Nation of Poets#1

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Poles use a lot of rhyming expressions in everyday speech. The most famous is smigus dyngus – a rhyming name that sounds silly, but which actually fits well with the type of activity it describes!

I once told a friend that I like these rhyming expressions in Polish and he said:

‘What can I say? We’re a nation of poets!’

So to celebrate this nation of poets, here are some of my favourites:

Ryzyk Fizyk

This means well, it’s worth taking the chance.

It’s actually quite persuasive when someone says this. Including the word ‘fizyk/physics’ suggests that we’re not talking about ‘chance’ but the mechanical laws of the universe!

It was probably coined by Kopernik when the church were considering publishing his research!

Tak Czy Siak

  • tak czy siak
  • tak czy owak
  • albo tak, albo siak

These expressions mean ‘in any case, anyway or for better or worse. The rhyming works well to express that we’re talking about something that doesn’t matter.

What is a ‘siak’ anyway? Whatever it is, it similar to an ‘owak’ and it’s always an option. If you don’t like the first option, there’s always the ‘siak’ option.

In Chinese, the word tao means ‘way’ or ‘route’ and signifies the path to spiritual enlightenment in Taoism. For a Polish equivalent, then I offer you Siakism or Siakizm. If you are in two minds, then choose the way of Siak – it might not be a well-trodden path, but hey ‘ryzyk fizyk!’

Prosto z Mostu

Literally, ‘straight from the bridge‘. When I first heard this expression, I assumed it described having ‘first hand’ information about something – as if to get the best view of what’s happening, you should go and stand on the bridge! This made sense to me because the idiom does mention a specific location.

However, I learned that it actually means ‘bluntly’ and describes a communication style that is very direct or even rude.

As locations go, I wouldn’t describe the bridge as being the most vulgar. The sewer or the gutter maybe, but the bridge?

5 thoughts on “Nation of Poets#1

  1. Andy! Świetny blog! Zabawne i wnikliwe obserwacje rzeczy, które dla mnie są przezroczyste jak powietrze i fajnie, że mogłem je dostrzec. Gratuluję!

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  2. wyraz „siak” (i jego pochodne „siaki” itp.) jest już mało znany — krewny tego wyrazu pojawia się w innym utartym sformułowaniu „do siego roku”; można znaleźć filmik z prof. miodkiem opisującym potoczyście to słowo.

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    • That explains why I’d never heard the word ‘siak’ outside the expression ‘tak czy siak’. I always wondered what it meant.
      Just watched the film with Prof. Miodek…and learned a new greeting…only a few months until I can practice it!

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  3. “Tak czy siak” and “tak czy owak” mean “anyway”, as you correctly translated. However, “albo tak, albo siak” means something like “you can’t have it both ways” (and also: “there’s no third option”).

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