I can speak Polish!
Today I held my first conversations completely in Polish. The converations weren’t much at all, but still I did not resort to English.
The first conversation was in a taxi from the archives to the hotel. Neither the driver nor I said much. I just told him “Hotel Marriott”. He repeated the destination and drove me there. Upon arrival he told me the price of the fare. I paid and left the taxi, offering him a “Dziekuję” (Thank-you) as I left.
I then stopped by a flower stand to pick up some roses for my cousin Kasia. The salesperson showed me her wares, picking one bunch of flowers, then another, extolling the virtues of each. I just kept saying, “Nie” (No). To be honest, I didn’t understand most of what she was saying, but I got the general idea.
Finally she showed me a bunch of roses, the outer petals white, the heart of each rose glowing with a delicate pink color. I asked, “Ile kostuje?” (“How much does it cost?”) and the vendor clearly stated the price. If there’s one thing I’m good at in Polish, it’s numbers. I deal with numbers in every Polish document I translate: dates, ages, house numbers, numbers of banns of marriage, etc. I agreed to the price simply by saying “Dobrze” (OK). I gave the salesperson the correct amount of money and told her “Dziękuję” (Thank you).
I learned one hint about flowers last night at dinner with my cousin Christa and her cousin Adam. An odd number of flowers is suitable for the living and an even number is appropriate for the deceased. I’m glad I learned this tip, because Adam looked truly horrified when I told him it was common in the United States to give a spouse or lover a dozen or half-dozen roses! Fortunately, the vendors in the flower stalls had conveniently packaged many of the bunches of flowers in groups of five.
I also met several cousins today for the first time: Wojciech (related to my Niedziałkowski ancestors) and Kasia and family (related to my Danko ancestors).
I still have other relatives to meet later this week but, unfortunately, my time in Poland seems to be passing by too quickly!
One thing that I kind of got a kick out of while writing this post was that I noticed that, here in Warsaw, Google automatically connects me to Google.pl, the Polish version of the Google home page!
Copyright © 2009 by Stephen J. Danko