Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The many meanings of "proszę"

It occurred to Laurel and I that there is one particular word which we hear an awful lot in Kraków: Proszę.  It's pronounced as "PRO-shem", we originally learned its translation as "please."  That's one of its meanings, but it's also used to mean any of the following (my translations):

  • Please
  • Excuse me / pardon me
  • Next (as in, what a cashier would say to the person in front of a line)
  • Here you go
  • If I may
Also, proszę is often combined with "bardzo," which translates to "very."  At least, that's what I thought it meant.  Google Translate also gives the following for "bardzo":
  • Very
  • Greatly
  • Pretty
  • Badly
  • Some
  • Vastly
  • Plenty
  • Sorely
  • Ever So
  • Mightily
  • Jolly
You can see why "bardzo proszę" must always be determined by context.  In isolation, this phrase (in addition to making no sense to a native English speaker - "very please", anyone?) can have a lot of different translations.  Yet, it's pretty easy to understand what someone wants when they use it.  They usually want to call you up to the cashier stand, or give you change, or take your plate, or something similar.  It's a wonderful example of how complex such an everyday phrase can be when taken to another language.


Post a Comment

Design by Wordpress Theme | Bloggerized by Free Blogger Templates | free samples without surveys