Adventures with language
That may yet come to pass, but I do sometimes wonder how many corruptions of the Polish language I am personally responsible for.
My students in high school were fascinated with English slang, and there was a bit of a fashion in parts of Eastern Europe (may still be for all I know) for writing grafitti in English. (I saw "Skateboarding is not a crime" on a wall in a town called Milanovek once.)
I remember teaching them "talking to the toilet" - (Aussie slang for "vomit") and how they howled with laughter.
Later I saw it on a wall, one town down the train line from mine.
Another one that made them laugh uncontrolably: I looked out the window and saw it was snowing. In Polish, snow is "snieg" (shh/nee-egg) "It's snowing" is "snieg pada" (literally "snow falls".) So I said, "Look, it's sniegging."
That one brought down the house.
Another that some of my friends liked was, "What are you doing today?"
And then there was the time I almost caused a Polish girl to expire with exhausted laughter in Prague.
We were walking through one of that most marvelous of city's parks one night, and I saw a bat.
I asked, "Co to jest po Polsku?" ("What's that in Polish?")
I heard something I thought sounded like "topesh," so I tried to confirm, "Topesh?"
She replied, with emphasis, "Nietopesz."
Two things I must explain: one is that the negative prefix in Polish is "nie," meaning "no," but also as a prefix non-, un-, a-, ab- etc. It's one of two or three areas in which Polish grammar is actually simpler than English.
(Polish also has one negative suffix: -bez, meaning "without" or "-less.")
The other thing is that Polish has about 50% more basic speech sounds than English, including a number of subtly different sounds that sound to us like "sh," and represented by "sz" and "s" with a few different diacritical marks that I don't have the type for on this program.
So (back to the park), I thought the young lady was saying, "Not topesh" and kept trying various combinations like "TOE-pesh," "toe-PESH," "toe-pezh" while she kept saying "NIETOPESZ" while choking with laughter and holding her stomach.
I think she had literally collapsed to the ground when I finally realized that "bat" in Polish, is "nietopesz."
Always happy to be a source of such innocent merriment to my friends.
Some day I'll tell how I tried to put together a term for "yankee" in Polish, and came up with a construction that means "half a chamber pot."