Category Archives: LANGUAGE

Damn these Americans and their screwed up English!

Notice how I couldn’t avoid two Americanisms in my title complaining about Americanisms! ;-)

This is the root of the problem, some Americanisms are darn fine ones but others just drive me completely bonkers crazy. Take the word “guess” for example. The way I use it it is a fine complement to the English version of “suppose”. I can say “I suppose you will be holidaying in Tuscany again this year?” meaning I don’t know for sure but there has been at least an element of deduction or calculation involved (say because the person has been to Tuscany the last five years in a row). I can also say “I guess not.” when I’m asked whether Obama will win the next election, giving the impression that whilst I still have an opinion, I really am guessing. Damn is a good, more widely known, alternative to sod in a similar way that screwed up works well instead of buggered up and there are many more Americanisms that I am happy to embrace and use. Should be said I’ve worked with Americans for a lot of my career so am more tolerant than others.

Where it goes horribly wrong is with phrases like “reach out” or the current favourite, “space”. I was listening to a podcast, I think Harvard Business Review, and the lady being interviewed was using space so often it was genuinely hard to follow what she was saying. I forget the details but she would say something like “We were testing atheletes who were operating in the basketball space.” instead of saying “We were testing basketball players.” and as the interview went on it was clear that the word space, in its new role, had almost unlimited applications. I might have let this go as a one-off nutty professor moment but it has been cropping up with annoying regularity so it would be great to head this one off at the pass!

The other example, “reach out” has been around for a while now and because of that has started to cross borders. What was purely an Amercian thing has now invaded the UK and shows no signs of stopping, hence the need to raise emerging dangers such as space at an early stage in the hope they don’t cross the Atlantic. Essentially, reach out is used to signify an attempt to communicate with someone but without being specific as to what method will be used. “I will reach out to him next week.” or “He reached out to me to discuss the situation in the Eurozone space.”. Saints preserve us!

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Polish-English Translation Competition #13 (closed)

The 13th translation competition absolutely coincidentally comes out on the 13th day of month. Given the waning attention Polandian’s readers pay to translation competitions, I am of the opinion it is high time we came up with something that would freshen up the content of the page. Before it happens, the last portion of translation puzzles. Here we go!

1. dać komuś popalić – to give sb a rough ride (island1)
2. radość życia – zest for life (Steve)
3. urżnąć się – to get hammered (-)
4. mieć przechlapane – to be in a doghouse (Steve)
5. salwy śmiechu – peals of laughter (siudol)
6. dojść do słowa – to get a word in edgeways (Decoy)
7. przypaść komuś do gustu – to take one’s fancy (Kasia)
8. podciąć komuś skrzydła – to take wind out of sb’s sails (Kasia)
9. otoczka dobrobytu – spare tyre (island1)
10. nie zmrużyć oka – not sleep a wink (daa)

There’s not leitmotiv this time, hope you won’t let me down, most of the phrases are really easy.

Good luck!

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Polish-English Translation Competition #12 (closed)

If some of you, dear readers, wonder if the translation competitions will ever disappear from Polandian, I can assure you we have had more down than we have to go. We are actually winding down, hence short phrases to guess in this round.

1. niedoróbka – glitch (-)
2. zaścianek – a backwater (Decoy)
3. parapetówka – a house warming party (Basia z Szwecji)
4. rozchodniak – one for the road (Grze$ko)
5. wymówka – a cop-out (Basia z Szwecji)
6. zrzutka – a whip-round (Steve)
7. zapeszać – to put a jinx on it (-)
8. wykapany… – a spitting image (of sb) (Steve)
9. bajzel – shambles (-)
10. bebech – paunch (-)

Keep you answers short and simple!

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Polish-English Translation Competition #11 (closed)

Traffic in Warsaw is snarled-up, hence it occured to me it wouldn’t be a bad idea to make speed a common denominator for this translation competition. Here we go!

1. iść pełną parą – to be in overdrive (-)
2. paliwożerca – a gas guzzler (Grze$ko)
3. ile wlezie – flat out (adthelad)
4. kumulacja – a rollover (TheAngol)
5. zdusić coś w zarodku – to nip sth in the bud (Pistefka)
6. bez zbędnych ceregieli – without further ado (Pistefka)
7. w gorącej wodzie kąpany – hot-headed (Kasia)
8. oberwanie chmury – a cloudburst (Pistefka)
9. klamka zapadła – a point of no return (Kasia)
10. na rzut beretem – within a stone’s throw (Kasia)

Hurry up!

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Polish-English Translation Competition #10 (closed)

Some of readers might be despondent these days. The school year begins today, the weather hasn’t been clement recently in Poland, the days are drawing in, and autumn is imminent. For no apparent reason all those unfavourable circumstances prompted me to make criminality a leitmotiv of the tenth translation competition. Actually not all the phrases below refer to law violations, but in each case there’s at least a tiny connection with some sort of misconduct.

1. dojść do rękoczynów – to come to blows (Steve)
2. podprowadzić coś – to pilfer sth (PMK)
3. wieszać psy na kimś – to badmouth sb (Kasia)
4. podwędzić coś – to pinch sth (Name)
5. przekręt – scam (EM)
6. zbić kogoś na kwaśne jabłko – to beat sb to a pulp (Arturwarrior)
7. możni tego świata* – movers and shakers (-)
8. zaszywać się – to hole up (Name)
9. mały, krępy, niewywrotny** – pudgy (-)
10. nadziany*** – well-heeled (Tomasz)

* bear in mind there’s a numerous group of people in this country who believe everyone who belongs to the elite surely is a criminal…
** hint: use only one word
*** justification – to translate one of Poland’s most outstanding thinkers: “if somebody has money, they must have it from somewhere”

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