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Poland: Shoe-Polish-Polish-language

Observations of Poland

In Poland people would come up to me and ask me something in Polish. I could have a backpack and a camera around my neck and they would still ask because I don’t think they honestly believe that anyone else would ever be in their country.
On my Polish excursion outside the tourist cities even in the hostels most people were Polish. I had found non-Australian dominated lands. When I told them I was from Australia they would double take and gasp “Australia?..ooo wow” then as the lady I met in the Laundromat then followed that with, “koalas”. Australia is so distant a concept I think they are not sure it exists.

The thing with Poland is, they speak Polish and while English is the new big thing with youngsters, most Polish people speak only Polish. I speak only English. There is a mutual understanding that I don’t speak their language and they don’t speak mine. Therefore there are no expectations. Of course I am not going to know Polish. They could never expect me to. And I don’t expect them to speak English. Before ‘the fall’ they would never have even heard English spoken, even on TV.

In Germany you can either have a go in German and have them most likely speak back to you in English but if you expect them to speak English then they probably won’t and you feel like a Western twat who wears an ‘I speak English’ crown. If you ask them if they “sprechen sie English” and they do, they will often give you an offended of-course-I-can-we-are-educated-people look. This makes me anxious so I usually eat at the self-service bakery.

Surprisingly Poland is easy when it comes to conversing, buying tickets and ordering food. It’s not easy because Polish is easy, Polish is alphabet vomit. Sometimes I think I can’t see properly when I am reading a street sign then I just realise I can’t read it not because I have early onset glaucoma but because my brain refuses to read a word with that many z’s. It’s a little confusing navigating a city with streets like ‘Ul. Marszałka Józefa Piłsudskiego’ which runs parallel with ‘Ul. Wojciecha Bogusławskiego’.

There is no angst in approaching someone in Poland. I don’t have to risk offence. A conversation between me and someone else involves pointing, gesturing, words going back and forth. I can order a ticket with “Bilety. Poznan. Proszę” the equivalent in Polish of “ticket. Poznań. Please.” Easy. They will come back with a “Poznań. Yes”. And a “one?” and we have both exhausted our English and Polish respectively. I nod. They nod.

I had a whole conversation with two Polish men in a hostel about boxing. How? I'm not sure. The boxer Adamek is Polish. That I got from boxing actions and the word Adamek over and over and over. That night was a match between he and a Ukranian. I think they wanted me to lend them my computer to watch it.

Me sorry nie Polski, nyet, no. I don't know what you want.

Posted by The Tipsy Gipsy 02:07 Archived in Poland Tagged language english polish

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