Tag Archives: Czech Republic

Polandian on Sunday #2

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Welcome to Polandian on Sunday with a brief summary of what happened this week in Poland.

1. The Polish-Polish pierogi war.

Pierogi, dumplings with many varieties of filling, are a Polish specialty. They have also become the subject of a major row.

As businesses serving pizza are called pizzerias, those serving pierogi are called pierogarnias. At least they were – until this week.

Pierogi places around Poland have received letters from the lawyers of the “Polskie Pierogarnie” company, demanding the word “pierogarnnia” be removed from their street signs, menus, business cards and ads. Apparently the company has registered the name “pierogarnia” at the patent office.

Many pierogi establishments argue “pierogarnia” is a generic name. Lawyers are already jumping with joy at the prospect of a long and difficult trial. So are Polish philologists, who as court language experts will finally be able to find a job connected with their studies.


2. A new biography of Lech Wałęsa’s draws an unflattering image

Previously there were the accusations of Wałęsa’s co-operation with communist secret services. This week is all about the new book claiming that Wałęsa, inter alia:
– peed into a font when he was 9;
– attacked peasant parties with an axe;
– had an illegitimate child, which he never officially acknowledged;
– and repeating the old claim that he was an agent of communist secret services.

The book, which is actually a master’s thesis, by 24-year-old Paweł Zyzak, caused a massive outcry this week. Controversial claims remain unverified, and in many cased unverifiable. Stories from Wałęsa’s youth are based on anonymous accounts from villages where Wałęsa used to live. Journalists soon followed the paths taken by Mr Zyzak – and heard the same things from the local peasant folk.

Established historians have criticised the work as not being compliant with proper methodology.

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Wałęsa is outraged. His first reaction was to say that he did not fight for a Poland such as this, and that he considered returning the Nobel Prize and other awards, and leaving the country. Mr Zyzak has been condemned by Poland’s top-people. The government is outraged too, and wants to control how the Jagiellonian University, founded 1364, protects scientific standards while granting degrees in its History Department—a proposal that some see as a breach of the universities’ independence and of freedom of speech.

Mr Zyzak is also the author of other original thoughts. As a Kaczynski brothers’ Law and Justice party politician he demanded that Gazeta Wyborcza, the most popular Polish broadsheet, be removed from schools because it “promotes hatred of the Polish state, and it spits on national and local authorities”. He also said that gay people are “animals and descendants of the devil”. In one article he wrote: “Fags, using individual physical and verbal attacks against them, cunningly gather people’s compassion”.

Since he might be stripped of his masters – he should be hoping for some compassion himself these days.

3. Barack Obama – a descendant of Polish monarchs?

In the desserts of the Sahara, in the jungles of Manhattan, on the beaches of the Seychelles: Polish people are everywhere in the world. As it turns out, the current occupant of the White House might be Polish too. At least a bit.

Previous studies proved Barack Obama’s connection to the English house of Plantagenet and Edward I.  A Czech expert explores the connection between the Plantagenets, the Polish house of Piast and the Bohemian house of Przemyślid (cz. Přemyslid).

Descent Table of Barack Obama, King Edward I of England and Mieszko I, Duke of Poland.

Mieszko I, Duke of Poland  ? – 992
Bolesław Chrobry (Boleslas the Brave), King of Poland 967 – 1025
Mieszko II, King of Poland 990 – 1034
Kazimierz Odnowiciel (Casimir the Restorer), Duke of Poland 1016 – 1058
Władysław Herman (Ladislas Herman), Duke of Poland 1043 – 1102
Bolesław Krzywousty (Boleslas III Wrymouth Piast), Duke of Poland 1085-1138
Władysław II, (Ladislas II Piast), Duke of Krakow and Silesia 1105-1159
Rychilda (Richilde Piast), 1135-1198
Sancha of Castille 1154-1208
Alphonse II, Count of Provence ca 1180-1209
Raimond-Bérenger V, Count of Provence & Forcalquier ca 1205-1245
Eléonore of Provence 1223-1291
Edward I Longshanks Plantagenêt, King of England 1239-1307
Elizabeth Plantagenêt 1282-1316
William de Bohun, Earl of Northampton ca 1311-1360
Elisabeth de Bohun ca 1350-1385
Elizabeth Fitzalan 1366-1425
Joan Goushill
Catherine Stanley
Dulcia Savage
Maud Bold
Jennet Gerard
William Eltonhead
Richard Eltonhead
Martha Eltonhead
Eltonhead Conway
Martha Thacker
Edwin Hickman
James Hickman 1723-1816
Susannah Hickman
Annie Browning
George Washington Overall 1820-1871
Susan C Overall 1849
Gabriella Clark 1877
Ruth Lucille Armour 1900-1926
Stanley Armour Dunham 1918-1992
Ann Dunham 1942-1995
Barack Obama 1961-

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Mieszko I Piast - probably Barack Obama's forefather.

4. The last etude at Okęcie

An étude is an instrumental musical composition, most commonly of considerable difficulty, usually designed to provide practice material for perfecting a particular technical skill. It was also the name of a terminal at Warsaw’s Okęcie Chopin Airport. First opened in 1976 it served as the arrivals hall until 1992, when Terminal 1 was extended and refurbished. The number of passengers continued to grow, and very soon exceeded its capacity. In 2004 Etiuda was reopened to accommodate the rapidly growing low cost airlines. It was thought of only as a temporary solution since Terminal 2 was in the last phases of construction. There were also advanced plans to open a new airport further away from Warsaw.

Things didn’t go according to plan: Terminal 2’s launch was repeatedly postponed and the plans for a new airport plans were abandoned. The tiny space of Etiuda was getting more and more crowded – from 474,000 passengers in 2004 – to 948,000 in 2008. Overcrowding, together with greatly insufficient number of places to sit, lack of bars, restaurants or shops, tiny toilets, no air conditioning and delayed flights – meant that each visit to Etiuda was an horrific experience, that stayed with each visitor for a long time. We’ve mentioned this at Polandian before as well.

This week Etiuda was finally closed (ignoring protests from Ryanair, Easyjet and WizzAir) – which was celebrated with a grande fete outside the terminal in the Polish 70s style. Telebims displayed scenes from cult Polish comedy films in which the terminal was featured. The public got hot tea with vodka from thermos flasks and egg sandwiches wrapped in breakfast paper. Old style ‘crew’ with odd haircuts and vile make-up presented a happening: a very rude and disrespectful ‘check-in’ service. A reminder of how it was during the communist days – now a laughing matter. A huge “Closed” sign was lit up to finish off the night. Etude is over.

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GOING UP

Nudists – who might be getting a brand new beach on Warsaw’s Vistula bank. The Warsaw’s City Council motion aims to recreate the once popular nudist spot near Wał Miedzeszyński. The project needs the support of the mayoress of Warsaw Hanna Gronkiewicz-Walz, whom you can contact with petitions at ajaworska@warszawa.um.gov.pl.

The Polish economy – according to The Economist Poland will be the only country in Europe, excluding Slovakia and Slovenia, with a GDP growth in 2009 (0.7% to be precise). Other countries will experience a negative GDP growth rate due to the current crisis. Poland’s prognosis for 2010 is a more optimistic 2.2% GDP growth rate.

Firefox web browser – which, for the first time had a larger market share (45.3%) in Poland, than Internet Explorer (45.0%)

GOING DOWN

Radek Sikorski – the current Minister for Foreign Affairs lost his bid to become NATO Secretary General. Reportedly the Americans wanted the Danish guy (Anders Fogh-Rasmussen). Mr Sikorski should have thought twice, before he supported McCain against Obama the Piast.

The Centre of Contemporary Art in Toruń – which has hidden from view a part of its own exhibition on Saturday. The exposition entitled “Lucim lives on” presents peasant inspirations in modern art. One of the elements of the exhibition was a film, which the CoCA director, politically appointed figure, perceives as ‘obscene’ or ‘pornographic’. Conservatism and censorship is hardly a surprise when you think that instead of a speech from the curator presenting the CoCA’s programme during its launch ceremony, there was a priest offering prayer for the CoCA to “make benefit the glorious people of Toruń”.

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10 things that make Polish people laugh

THERE’S MORE LIKE THIS ON OUR NEW SITE – POLANDIAN.COM

Sensitive content warning: this post contains sexual references and swearing, which some people may find offensive.

There are some things that make everybody laugh regardless of their cultural background. There are, however, some differences in sense of humour between nations. Even in the English-speaking world, some things that are dead serious to Americans seem incredibly funny to the British (and probably vice-versa).
Here’s a subjective list of things that are guaranteed to make Poles laugh:

1. The Czech language

The thought that a language might make people laugh may sound surprising, but it’s true. The Czech language sounds ridiculously funny to the Polish ear. Although both languages derive from a common core and have many similarities they evolved for centuries on their own. Most Czech words sound to Poles like diminutives of their own words, pronounced with an awkward accent, which could be likened to dwarf-speak. What is more, many similar-looking and sounding words have completely different meanings. Simple notices about bus departures at a bus station in the Czech Republic can make a Polish person laugh like crazy; the Czech word for ‘departures’ means ‘faeces’ in Polish. ‘Laska’ (Czech for love) is Polish for ‘blow job.’ I could go on like this for a long time. Anything, which would be normally regarded as funny – when it has the Czech factor added – leads to Poles going completely mental.

An example of Czech language:

and again, with modern audio:

2. Foreign people speaking Polish

Foreign people speaking Polish, or foreign people generally, used to be a very rare thing in Poland. Hearing them speaking Polish is always entertaining. If you’re a foreigner and you want to make the atmosphere more relaxed, say something in Polish (and try to squeeze in some mistakes). Poles will be impressed by your effort to learn their language, that many people regard as difficult (but don’t be fooled, it’s pretty easy).

Example of foreign people speaking Polish:

3. Politics

Political jokes and political satire during communist times were a way of coping with the annoyances of the system. And there was always something to laugh about. There was a saying that Poland was “the merriest barrack in the communist camp.” This approach to politics continues today, and it has to be acknowledged that Polish politicians basically write scripts for comedians with their irrational acts.

Polish politics meets The Muppets

4. Poland

This might come as a surprise, but Poles love to laugh at themselves (but they don’t like it when others do so) and everything that is substandard, weird, awkward, broken, or baldly organised in this country.

5. Westerners

The way that westerners don’t understand some things about Polish reality makes many people laugh (and others sigh). Westerners used to be particularly funny in the past, when Polish reality was more complicated, and they were thought to be unable to comprehend it. The lost foreigner used to be a regular feature in Polish comedy films and series.

6. Hong Kong

Look how people laugh when you mention Hong Kong

7. Peasant people

Years of communism and appreciating the working class and peasant people didn’t really work on the Poles. Peasant people or unqualified workers are commonly associated with inarticulate language, bad grammar, poor vocabulary, tasteless demeanour and occasional problems with personal hygiene. They are a constant source of fun for urban and middle-class Poles. They are mercilessly mocked by the whole pop-culture.
(Stereo)typical peasant person (here fragments of a genuine local election advert):

Poles are in fact huge snobs.

8. Lack of general knowledge

As stated above, Polish people have a tendency towards snobishness. This, combined with an education system focused on feeding students general knowledge basics from all disciplines, makes Polish people sensitive to signs of lack there-of. Not knowing the capital of Bolivia, the main river in Russia, or the exact date of the battle of Racławice, can put you to shame. Be warned. Have ways of escaping questions of this kind in advance. Or you might become a laughing stock.

9. Mohair berets.

Mohair Berets

In the Polish army different beret colours stand for different departments in the army. Mohair berets stand for the elderly ladies (babcias), followers of a local powerful conservative ultra/pseudo-Catholic televangelist leader. Mohair berets is their favourite headgear – and the faithfulness and discipline they they display resembles that of the army – hence the name. Mohair berets are guardians of the social order as they see it. Although in popular belief mohair berets are perceived as blind-to-argument, overwhelmed by all sorts of conspiracy theories, uneducated, aggressive, and xenophobic.

Cabaret mocking mohair berets:

Mohair beret lady arguing her political views calls a street seller speaking for news tv a ‘bitch’:

10. Psychodelic Christian music-videos

Here is the original, aired on a Catholic show on Polish public tv with a genuine Catholic bishop. “Christian is dancing”
Remake
Cocaine-LSD remix
Then came mathematics remake “ Parabolas are dancing”


If you enjoyed this post why not visit my news blog, or click on Pawel on the left to see my other posts on Polandian.

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