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Like I said in the comments to the previous post, it’s official, I have the best readers ever! Thank you so much for all your kind words, and even more – for your suggestions.
Today’s post is inspired by a comment made by Thomas in the post below. Remember his problems with finding the Polish equivalent to “you’re welcome”? I couldn’t believe what kind of nonsense he found in his dictionary, and so I decided to do some googling of my own and see what I could come up with.
While there are quite a few free on-line dictionaries (which in my opinion are a better choice than on-line translators), the one that I like the best is Ling.pl.
It’s not just one dictionary, what Ling does is to compile answers to a query from every source in its database. Or at least that’s how I think it works.
Knowing Polish is not really necessary to use the service. Just type a word in (use the Polish letters they show you if it’s a Polish word), hit enter and then waddle through the multitude of results. From what I’ve seen, Ling also includes definitions from the dictionary that Thomas had mentioned – Ectaco, which personally, I have found to be less than perfect, to put it gently. Very gently.
So how do we say “you’re welcome!” in Polish? There are a couple of ways to do it. Ling (if you have the patience to read through the definitions after you punch in “welcome” into the search box) gives these two:
Nie ma za co means something like “nothing to it” or “that’s nothing.”
Proszę bardzo is the same as “please.”
Both are used to answer when somebody’s thanking you, like this:
Then I wanted to find out if one of these phrases was more popular than the other, and so yesterday, I got on the phone and called ten random businesses and administrative offices in Warsaw and beyond, and asked a bunch of idiotic (but still plausible questions). I wanted the people to spend some time on looking for an answer to give me a reason to thank them profusely and then listen to their responses. Apart from one very rude woman at a certain institution of higher learning in Warsaw, which because I’m such a great gal, shall remain nameless, who hung up on me almost immediately, everybody was extremely nice and helpful.
They patiently searched for a solution to my imaginary problem and when I finally showered them with a slew of “dziekuję bardzo”, five responded with “nie ma za co”, two said “proszę bardzo”, one said “nie ma sprawy” (no problem) and one – “z przyjemnością” (with pleasure).
So, the conclusions?
Poles are very conscientious when it comes to acknowledging somebody’s thanks and use a variety of expressions to do. And I definitely don’t like the Warsaw School of Social Sciences and Humanities. Their loss, because I am seriously considering going back to school. For real.
On the other hand, the good ladies at the University of Warsaw were super patient and super polite. I spoke to two, one said “nie ma za co” and the other – “proszę bardzo”. So there you have it.
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