Monday, May 11, 2009

Wisdom from Polska

I like little proverbs. Simple pearls of wisdom. Four words will do.  Happy wife, happy life.  Measure twice, cut once.  Better late than never.  Better safe than sorry.  Waste not, want not.  No pain, no gain. Early birds catch worms.  Loose lips sink ships. 

But for some of the real gems you have to allow for a few more words... like Mr. Gump's: life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get.  Or a dull pencil beats a sharp memory.  I read a funny one today: If in doubt, go left.  Sometimes, a couple of proverbs can leave a guy a bit confused: does the early bird really catch the worm or do good things come to those who wait?  And do many hands make light work or do too many cooks spoil the broth. I guess it depends on who the hands belong to. Come to think of it, many proverbs seem to be food-issue warnings: don't count your chickens before they hatch, put your eggs in one basket, bite the hand that feeds you, or bite off more than you can chew, cry over spilled milk, or judge a cookbook by its cover ;)

Anyway, the reason I bring all of this up is that the Polish language has some great little proverbs. Strangely enough, I stumbled on some of these online today and now I'd like to share a few with you.  
A couple of them send me right back to my young'in days. 

Here's a standard one from my dad: "Śpiesz się powoli" which translates literally into 'hurry slowly' but more specifically meant 'slow the heck down you crazy child or you'll hurt yourself'.  
And my mother would sometimes toss out "Złej baletnicy przeszkadza rąbek u spódnicy" which translates to 'A poor ballerina is bothered by the hem of her skirt' and essentially means 'quit yer bitchin!'.

Here are some more:

"Gdy pies je, to nie szczeka, bo mu miska ucieka"  An eating dog doesn't bark or his food will run away.  In other words: don't talk with your mouth full.  "Gość w dom - Bóg w dom"  Guest in the house, God in the House.  From my experience, this is a good description of Polish hospitality.  "Kto rano wstaje, temu Pan Bóg daje"  Who wakes up early gets stuff from God.  A Polish early bird, being VERY catholic, would naturally expect a gift form God to be much better than just 'a worm'.  "Jak sobie pościelisz, tak się wyśpisz"  The bed you make is the one you'll sleep in... as in ye reap what ye sow.  "Lepszy wróbel w garści niż gołąb na dachu" I like this one: A sparrow in your hand is better than a pigeon on the roof.  "Myszy harcują, gdy kota nie czują" When the cat's away, the mice will play. "Nie chwal dnia przed zachodem słońca" Don't praise the day before the sun has set... cuz it might yet suck!  "Paluszek i główka to szkolna wymówka" A sore finger and a headache are standard excuses for not going to school.  Polish people are big on education.  I think it's because the communist culture that my parents grew up in rewarded very few things - but education was one of them.  Here's another: "Ucz się ucz, bo nauka to do potęgi klucz." Learn, learn, because education is the key to greatness.  "Piękna miska jeść nie daje."  A pretty bowl won't feed you :)  "Wolnoć Tomku w swoim domku" Tom is allowed to do whatever he wants in his own house.  "Dobrego nawet karczma nie zepsuje, a zlego nawet kosciol nie uratuje."  A good man won't be spoiled by a tavern, but not even a church can save an evil man. And that's good, because I like a good tavern :)

Here I am with a friend named Andreas having a couple of beers in one of the coolest tavern's that I will ever be in.  It was called 'The Brazen Head'.  Peace.


Sam Holland said...

You are a wise man Jake...
Nice blog

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