Ponglish: Diary of a Pole

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Eight years ago I arrived in the UK with my fellow countrymen: rocket scientists, brain surgeons, state attorneys, film directors and hairdressers. They let us flow out of the plane and spread all over the country.

Back home, in Poland, I grew up watching Mr. Bean, listening to Brit Rock and thinking every Londoner has marmalade on toast with tea for breakfast. Having lived here for nearly a decade I have developed an affection to my current whereabouts. I can’t really imagine living without this beloved dry humour! Even though Mr. Bean is yet to be spotted.

Apart from the friendly mentality of the Brits (most of you will frown now), I like the language. Which paradoxically becomes a lingua franca even amongst the Poles themselves. Some fifteen years ago I had my auntie come over from the USA, she tended to throw in some odd American-sounding words into her ever exaggerated statements. Back then I thought: “What did she catch out there?!”

Today I think the bug has spread further and so I hear myself taking lancz (lunch), making kola (calls), having cziken (chicken) and bukując holideja (booking my holidays). This linguistic patty has even gotten its own name: Ponglish.

A couple of weeks ago I tried to form a one man army resistance force and use the former ways of saying things for a week. I ended up sounding rigid, anti-progressive and possibly exuding an anti-assimilating attitude; such an embarrassment – had to drop it.

What is the situation like with English in Poland? It quickly overtook Russian and now goes arm-in-arm with German [Ed. WHHHHHAAAAATTTT?????? :-)]. It is probably due to globalisation, the Internet and also the ‘2005 EU-mingle fest’ which makes the Polish relatives want to learn English. The pace is fast, burn my school book ‘How do you do?’ and Siri-text me: ‘You alright?’.

Since some Polish cities have become popular Stag Do destinations, my friend reports to me from Cracow that signs, posts, menus are both in Polish and English. All in attempt to make it attractive and hospitable to foreign tourists … and/or it’s adapting for UK Poles to feel homely when they get back there as soon as they hit my auntie’s age.

Thank you for reading!

Konrad Krzysztofik (Specialist Translation Project Manager at K International)