19 March, 2010

to add insult to injury (or "poke a sick man in the eye")

to buff monday's incident to a high gloss shine, i must add, that due to the formality inherent in the polish language, every sentence in the entire coldly polite exchange began with "proszÄ™ pani" or, in english, "madam."

imagine, if you will, the increasingly desperate moi, and the increasingly hostile bureaubitch, tossing this little linguistic gem back and forth to each other. what follows is an example. of course, due to my aforementioned lack of The Stamp Of Validity i can guarantee neither the validity of the translation nor its verbatim-ness. think of it, if you will, as more of an approximation:

moi: madam, i have brought you the very documents you have requested. these documents, madam, contain the very information you found lacking in the previous documents i brought you; the documents you sent me home with and now claim to have needed all along.

bb: madam, these documents are worthless to me. furthermore, madam, i am certain i have specifically told you that i needed blah blah blah.

moi: madam, you did no such thing. i am certain, madam, that if you had, instead of wasting time and money, i would even now, be officially recognized as married in my country of birth, a country, madam, the need for the passport of which i am increasingly questioning.

and so on.


jools said...

there's a screenplay in there, somewhere.

Pitur said...

Join the f***** club. We were trying to do the same thing. One person told us that yes, we can do it. Just sign some papers, have the signatures notarized and mail the whole thing to the consulate. Next thing you know, they are telling us that we should have signed the papers in front of them. Mind you it was the same person who told us otherwise a month before that. Were they fishing for a bribe?

Anna Maria said...

Ha, ha, yep, Polish is just so formal, descriptive and LONG. The only words that say the same thing, but are shorter than their English translation are: golasek and piwoszka. The rest is just sooo long. I am particularly sensitive to the unbelievable number of syllables we need because I write about fashion. In beautifully short and precise English you can simply say: "this dress is this season's must-have". Job done! Now try saying (writing) the same thing in Polish...

the polish chick said...

pitur - i don't think bribes are the thing any more. now it's just mental torture. also, what's the f***** club? are the membership fees high? will they have me? is there a gym?

anna maria - what's worst is that most polish publications have clued in to the shortcomings of the language and instead of taking a creative approach, they are now plonking in english words, even in cases where the word is not part of common usage (like computer related stuff) or in cases where i, an expatriate of 27 years, can think of the polish word off the top of my head. i am, in case you haven't noticed, a language purist.