Thursday, 18 October 2007

O polityce

This was going to be a post about a disorder that is becoming increasingly common in Poland, known as 'dis-ortografia', whereby people are unable to tell whether a word ends in -ą or -om, for example. (Note that this couldn't exist in English because we do not have a phonemic orthographic system: where graphemes- letters- correspond to phonemes- groups of sounds which have the same meaning).

In other words it is a cheeky excuse for not knowing how to spell.

Dis-ortografic students get extra time in exams.

Anyway, I've changed my mind. The elections are coming up, and Poles are worrying about where to hide Granny's ID (so she can't vote Law and Justice- the current government), rather than how to conjugate it. Perhaps it's time to get my nose out of the dictionary and into the Gazeta Wyborcza.*
N.B. perhaps Conservative constituency parties in the UK might employ the ID-hiding method for the next leadership elections...

I have realised, after reading Justyna's latest post, that if I am going to try and speak authentic Polish, I'm going to have to learn how to talk about politics. I feel (momentarily) ashamed of my Anglo-Saxon - but mostly Anglo- reticence. Whatever happened to the teenager who stood up in school assembly to argue with the deputy head about uniform rules?**

But where to start?! Maybe I can practice on the Bad Obwarżanki Lady:

B.O.L.: Prosze?
me, conversationally: Dzien dobry Pani, poprosze butelkę wody mineralnej... i... co Pani myśle o korupcji na priwatizacji szpitalów?***

In all honesty, thus far Polish politics have not been a concern quite simply because my sole motivation in coming here was to get some experience in the profession and learn another EU language so that when I'm older I will get paid more and my kids will go to better schools.
But it turns out that I actually quite like Poland: I like the Bad Obwarżanki Lady, I like Car Guy, my flatmates, the Sacristan at St Giles and so on. And Polish grammar, to my warped little linguistic mind, looks like this:

It's chaos, but it's pretty...

If, like me, you are a total language-nut, try these to be getting on with:

Don't worry, I'll find some more...

*It has been observed that this blog contains Too Much Polish. The author resolves to moderate her self-indulgence in this respect. After all, she is not surprised to learn that not everyone finds the locative case as absorbing as she does. In fact, two floors up from her office lives an American TEFL teacher. He has lived in Poland for eight years and quite sensibly avoids the Polish language at all costs. Notably, he observed how irritating it was, on his latest trip home to the States, to Understand Everything. 'Like being able to read people's minds'. What a burden it is to be able to communicate. Thank goodness secondary schools in the UK have very sensibly put an end to this 'compulsory modern languages at GCSE-level' nonsense. After all, around 90% of all Poles under the age of 30 are able to communicate, at least on a basic level, in English. How fortunate, given that the average British adult, having studied either French, German or Spanish for at least two years, can get no further than 'Garçon!; 'Weissbier' or 'Donde esta la playa?'

Well, luckily Poland isn't a major player in Europe. Only 38.6 million inhabitants. And only an estimated 750,000 Poles living in the UK: a mere 1.24% of the population.
Good news for us inarticulate Brits, right?

**uuh... she got expelled... (and then moved to Poland and became a translator- let this be A Lesson To You, O rebellious youth of today).

*** This is supposed to say: 'Good morning. A bottle of water please. By the way- what do you think of corruption in the privatisation of hospitals?' But it probably says something entirely different. No-one said this blog was going to be easy. Take a tough pill.

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