Photo: pikselstock/Shutterstock

How to Talk Like a Polish Person in 8 Easy Steps

by Olga Mecking Feb 16, 2016

1. Roll your R’s.

To speak proper Polish, you need to roll your R’s. All the other kinds of R’s don’t count. Need an example? Czarna krowa w kropki bordo gryzła trawę kręcąc mordą. Alternatively, try listening to Shakira’s “Rabiosa” — that’s how you pronounce it. Polish people swear a lot and, as they saying goes, you can’t swear without a properly rolled R.

2. Add little decoration to letters.

Latin letters are plain and boring. Add something to make them pretty! You can add dots (ż), lines (ź, ć, ó, ł, ś) and ogonek — a little tail (ą, ę). It adds a few more sounds to your repertoire and your alphabet looks way prettier!

3. Get rid of some letters.

The letters “v”, “q” and “x” don’t exist and besides, we don’t need them. Instead, use w (wideo), q (kwatera), and ks (seks).

4. Discover the power of “no”.

The Polish “no” can mean anything from “yes” to “that’s interesting, go along”. It can express a warning, adoration, or a threat. And it’s a great way to start a sentence.

5. Diminutives and augmentatives.

Like the Dutch, Polish people love diminutives. We love them so much that we actually make gradations (pies — piesek — pieseczek, which means dog — cuter dog — even cuter dog) and even make diminutives from adjectives (mały — malutki, which means small and the diminutive of small, something like “teeny-tiny”). And to balance things out, we also have augmentatives which is just the opposite: to make something feel bigger than it is: pies — psisko (dog — big dog) for example.

6. Aspect.

The craziest thing about the English language is tenses. Why are there so many tenses? Polish people only have 5 tenses and they attach the so called aspect to them, which specifies whether the action has been finished or not. For example if you cooked soup and it’s not done, you say: “gotowałem zupę“. But if you want to say that you cooked soup and it’s done, you say: “ugotowałem zupę”.

7. Swear. A lot.

Polish people use swearwords as interpunction marks. You can swear in diseases, you can use the Polish equivalent of the F-word (there are a few to choose from), call someone a penis or if you really dislike someone, call them a prostitute. The latter can also be used in the place of coma in a sentence. Here’s more about Polish swearwords.

8. Learn to count properly.

Polish people only count to four. It is known. Anything over 5 is considered “a lot”. Let me explain. I told you about cases, but you also use them for numerals. So one dog is pies. Two dogs is dwa psy. But five dogs is pięć psów. It doesn’t make sense? Sorry. That’s how it is.

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