Saturday, April 26, 2014

Rubbing And Spreading: -cierać, -trzeć

It has been a while since I posted a blog post here.  I have been studying Polish just about every day, but haven't taken the time to create a blog post.  Perhaps my recently ended campaign for US Congress kept me a little too busy to make blog posts. :-)

Verbs that end with -cierać, -trzeć seem to have meanings associated with "rubbing" or "spreading" for the most part.  Most of these verbs follow the pattern of -cierać for the imperfective and -trzeć for the perfective though "patrzeć" is a little different, as we shall see.

These verbs tend to conjugate in "-am, asz" for the -cierać form, and in "trę, trzesz" for the -trzeć form.

docierać, dotrzeć - to reach, to arrive, to get through to

This verb seems to be the farthest from the "rubbing" or "spreading" meaning of the root.

dotrzeć do czegoś - to get through to something

nacierać, natrzeć - to rub (in); to charge, to attack

natrzeć na (+ accusative) - to charge at...

obcierać, obetrzeć - to wipe; to chafe (skin)

Buty mnie obcierają - My shoes are chafing against my feet

pocierać, potrzeć - to rub

przecierać, przetrzeć - to wipe; to sieve; to wear through

przycierać, przytrzeć - to wear down, to chafe, to fray

rozpościerać, rozpostrzeć - to spread (e.g. blanket, wings); to stretch

rozpościerać skrzydła - to spread one's wings

rozpościerać się, rozpostrzeć się - to extend

ścierać, zetrzeć - to scrape, to abrade; to rub out, to wipe off, to clean; to grate (e.g. carrots)

ścierać kurze z (+ genitive) - to dust...

ścierać się, zetrzeć się - to wear out, to wear off, to wear thin; to clash

wcierać, wetrzeć - to rub in

wcierać krem w skórę - to rub cream into the skin

wycierać, wytrzeć - to wipe off

Proszę wytrzeć buty - Please wipe your shoes

"Patrzeć/popatrzeć" is different from the above verbs in that it never takes on the -cierać form, and simply uses the "-po" prefix for the perfective.  It also conjugates as "-rzę -rzysz."

patrzeć, popatrzeć - to look (at) 

patrzeć na siebie w lustrze - to look at oneself in the mirror 
patrzeć przez okno - to look through the window
patrzeć w lusterko - to look in the mirror
patrzeć przez okno - to look through the window Tylko patrzeć jak... - It won't be long before...
Miło byłoby popatrzeć jak bawi się z Aaronem - It would have been nice to see her play with Aaron
Nienawidziła patrzeć na siebie w lustrze - She hated looking at herself in the mirror
Tylko patrzeć jak... - It won't be long before...
patrzeć na kogoś z góry - look down one’s nose on somebody

I am including "rozprzestrzeniać, rozprzestrzenić" here mostly because it is a synonym for "rozpościerać, rozpostrzeć" and because the "-trzeć" root seems to elongate to "-trzeniać, -trzeć."

rozprzestrzeniać, rozprzestrzenić - to spread / -iam -iasz, -nię -nisz

szybko się rozprzestrzeniać - spread like wildfire

rozprzestrzeniać się, rozprzestrzenić się - to disperse / -am -asz, -nię -nisz

rozprzestrzeniać się z szybkością błyskawicy - to spread like a wildfire

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Mixing It Up In Polish (Big Time)

I had previously posted this in three parts, but recently decided to consolidate it into one post and add some more words to it, as well as alphabetize the list by the first entry.  I did that because I was having a hard time figuring out whether I had already included words, so alphabetizing them and having them in one list will make it easier to determine whether I have already considered any given words.  From now on I will just add words to this post when I have identified more easily confused words.

When you are learning Polish, there are a whole lot of words that can be easily confused with each other.  For an English speaker, this is compounded because all the words are tongue twisters anyway.  You have no idea how many times I repeated the words "coś zjeść" (something to eat) over and over again before I could finally say them somewhat reliably.

Plus, when you learn new words that are similar to other words you knew, it can suddenly create a minefield of confusion.

Here are some words that I have gotten mixed up about at one time or another:

bezbronny – defenseless, unprotected
nieuchronny – inevitable

chwała – glory
chwila – moment, while

czeluść – abyss, depths
czułość – sensitivity, tenderness, sentimentality

cześć – reverence, worship (also used as "hello" or "goodbye" informally)
część – portion, part, section, piece
sześć – six

dokonany – accomplished, executed
pokonany – defeated

dowód – evidence, proof
powód – reason, cause, ground, motive

flet – flute
flota – fleet

gałka -- knob, ball (like an eyeball), scoop (as in ice cream)
pałka -- club (cudgel)

grzywka – fringe (hair)
grzywna – fine
grzywa  mane

kaczka – duck
paczka – package
taczka – wheelbarrow
teczka  briefcase, folder

komar  mosquito, gnat
konar  bough, branch

koparka  excavator
kopiarka  photocopier

kosa – scythe
koza – goat

kotlina – basin, hollow
kotwica – anchor

lawina – avalanche
macica – womb

leżak – deckchair
lizak – lollipop

lina – rope, cable, line
linia – line, route

łaska – favor, grace, mercy, generosity
łuska – (fish) scale, husk, (ammunition) shell

mąka – flour (I picture myself going into a sklep spożywczy [grocery store] and asking for a kilo of wheat torture, please)
męka – torture, torment

nadludzki – superhuman
przeludnienie – overpopulation

nadmiernie  excessively
niezmiernie  extremely, immensely, very

nawias – bracket, parenthesis
zawias – hinge

niezniszczalny – indestructible
znieczulenie – anesthesia

oparty – based, grounded, founded
uparty – stubborn, obstinate

opór – opposition, resistance
upór – obstinacy, stubbornness, determination

odprawa  briefing, clearance, gratuity, rebuff
oprawa  frame, rim, cover, binding (book)

pochodzenie  origin, descent
pogodzenie  reconciliation, resignation

początkowy – initial, preliminary, elementary
porządkowy – serial, ordinal

podeszwa  sole
poszewka  pillowcase

pokrywka  lid, cover
pokrzywa  stinging nettle

poprawienie – improvement, correction, revision
uprawnienie – entitlement, right, authorization

poszewka – pillowcase
soczewka – lens

potwierdzenie  confirmation, corroboration
stwierdzenie – statement, assertion

poważanie – respect, esteem, deference
poważnie – seriously, gravely, with dignity

powtórnie – once again, one more time
powtórzenie – repetition

pozbawiony – deprived
rozbawiony – amused

pozór – pretense, appearance
pożar – blaze, conflagration

przyczyna – cause, reason
przyzwoity – decent, proper

przygoda – adventure
przyroda – nature

ręcznik – towel
rzecznik – spokesman
rzeźnik - butcher

szczepionka  vaccine
szczypiorek  chive

skazany – condemned, doomed
wskazany – advisable

spinacz – paper clip
szpinak – spinach
wspinacz – climber

sporny  controversial, debatable
spójny  coherent

stały – solid, constant, permanent, direct (current)
trwały – permanent, durable, enduring, lasting (probably both these words mean pretty much the same thing except for maybe the “direct current” [prąd stały] connotation; I've seen both “stały związek” and “trwały związek” for “steady relationship”)

ścierka – dishcloth
ścieżka – path

świt – dawn, daybreak
świta – suite, retinue, entourage

trujący – poisonous, toxic
trwający – lasting

uderzenie – blow, stroke, hit
zdarzenie – event, occurrence
zderzenie – collision, crash

uległy – submissive, docile, compliant
upadły – bankrupt, fallen

ułożony – arranged, well-mannered
złożony – complex, composite, compound

uwieńczony – crowned, adorned with wreaths
uwięziony – trapped, stuck, imprisoned

wadliwy – defective, faulty
wątpliwy – questionable, doubtful

wezwanie  call, summons
wyznanie  confession, admission, religion
wyzwanie  challenge
zerwanie  rupture
zeznanie  testimony

władanie – reign, possession
włamanie – burglary

właśnie – just, exactly
własny – (someone's) own

wpływ – influence, impact
wstyd – shame, disgrace

wygląd – appearance, looks
wzgląd – regard, consideration, respect

wykaz – list, statement
wyraz – expression, word

zabarwienie  tinge, tint
zbawienie  rescue, deliverance, salvation, redemption

zabieg – procedure, treatment, operation
zasięg – range, reach

zbocze  slope
zboże  corn, cereal, grain

Other potentially confusing items:

Phrases with "północ" can be confusing because the word can either mean "north" or "midnight":

na północy – in the north
na północ – to the north
z północy – from the north

o północy – at midnight

"Południe" can mean either "south" or "noon" as well:

na południe – to the south
na południu – in the south
z południa – from the south

po południu – in the afternoon
w południe – at midday

There are also a whole bunch of words that have to do with thinking and/or mental processes that either contain "-myśl" or "-mysł" (where the accented mark switches between the "s" and the "l".  There are just so many that it makes my head swim.

Also I have mixed up a lot of words that start with "przy"- and "prze-".

I'd be interested in hearing what words you have gotten mixed up with other words in any languages you were studying.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Cutting Edge: Ciąć

The root "-ciąć" means "to cut."  There are several variations of this word, and most of them have pretty close-knit meanings; that is, the meanings of the derivative words don't seem to wander much from the main root, unlike with other Polish verbs.  The main distinguishing feature of this group of words seems to be the irregular present-tense conjugation:


This conjugation seems to follow all the "ciąć" words through the different variations with different prefixes.  On occasion, one might stumble upon the slangy imaginary infinitive "tnąć," which is an incorrect form of "ciąć" reverse engineered and bastardized from the irregular conjugation, though there does exist a participle "tnąc" (with no accent mark on the final consonant).

The words that end in the variation "-cinać" have a more regular "-am -asz" conjugation, for example:


The main word related to this root is:

ciąć, pociąć - to cut, to cut through, to clip, to chop, to hack

ciąć na kawałki - to cut into pieces
ciać na plastry - to cut into slices, to slice
ciać na kostkę - to cut into cubes, to dice
ciąć się o coś - to fight over something

docinać, dociąć - to cut (all the way) through, to cut extra, to cut to fit; to taunt

docinek - taunt (noun)

nacinać, naciąć - to cut down

nadcinać, nadciąć - to nick, to score

nadcięcie - (surgical) incision; nick, notch (noun)

obcinać, obciąć - to cut, to clip

obcinać włosy - to have one's hair cut
obcinać paznokcie - to cut one's nails

odcinać, odciąć - to cut off, to chop off, to cut away

pociąć - to cut up, to chop, to shred; to incise

podcinać, podciąć - to trim, to prune, to clip

podcinać komuś nogi - to trip somebody (up)
podcinać/podciąć sobie żyły - to slit one's wrists
podciąć skrzydła - to take the wind out of somebody’s sails

przecinać, przeciąć - to cut, to slice; to cut short, to interrupt

przeciąć sobie palec - to cut one's finger
przeciąć wstęgę - to cut a ribbon
przeciąc zakład - to close a bet
przecinać na pół - to cut in half
przecinać ciszę - to break silence
przecinać kłótnie - to interrupt an argument

przecinek - comma (noun)

przycinać, przyciąć - to trim, to crop; to catch

przycinać na wymiar - to trim down to size
przycinać drzewa/krzewy - to prune trees/bushes
przyciąć sobie język - to bite one's tongue

przycinanie - pruning (noun)

rozcinać, rozciąć - to cut, to cleave, to sever

rozcięcie - dissection, slit; vent (noun)

ścinać, ściąć - to cut off, to fell (tree); to smash (ball in sports); to coagulate

ścinać zakręty - to cut corners
ściąć żniwa - to cut down the harvest
ściąć się - to flunk

ucinać, uciąć - to break off, to cut short; to have, to do

ucinać/uciąć sobie drzemkę - to take a nap

wcinać, wciąć - to cut into

wcięcie - indenture, notch (noun)

wycinać, wyciąć - to cut out

zacinać, zaciąć - to cut; to whip, to lash; to clench, to set; to jam

zacinać się, zaciać się - to cut oneself; to be stuck; to persist; to stammer
Coś się zacięło - Something got stuck

Friday, November 15, 2013

Cursing In Polish

Probably some of the most important words you can learn in any language (after you learn where you can run off to when you are doing the pee dance, and where you can get something to eat that is not currently squirming) are swear words.  Expressing frustration, anger, ridicule and disgust are important parts of creating shades of meaning, and Polish seems to be especially expressive in this regard, next to maybe Russian.  The Polish nation has been through a wide range of historically frustrating experiences (to put it mildly), and this has colored the vernacular with a wide palette.

One site that has a plethora of cussage is "YouSwear" which has a number of Polish curse words, among other languages (curiously enough, they also have curse words in "Chicken").  There is also the Toolpaq Guide To Polish Curse Words as well, which is more systematic and discriminating in its treatment.  Another list is on Nawcon, which has a page called "Polish Language Swearing."

A site that is not quite as comprehensive is the "Cursing And Swearing Dictionary," which, nonetheless, seems to cover some of the basics.  There is another short list on, and a short blog post on Transparent, which discusses usage somewhat but not nearly enough.  Also, there are some words on Memrise, but you can only see five words a page and there are a total of twenty.

Doubtless there are other sites out there as well...let me know if you find the gold mine.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Just Had To Remove A Link To An Infected Site

I just had to remove a link in my list of language learning blogs to a site that is apparently infected with malware.  It was called speakingadventure-dot-com (it's spelled out...DON'T GO THERE!!!).  I did not click on the link at any time after that site was compromised so I doubt I was infected.  The link had been on there for quite some time but the site must have recently gotten infected as Google Chrome would no longer let me on my blog site and gave a malware warning about content from this other site.

Though I could not get to my blog at all, I could get to the maintenance pages, and I just searched all the gadgets for any trace of the site that Chrome was telling me harbored the infection.  And, bingo, I found a link to it and just deleted it, resolving the problem in less than ten minutes after getting the warning and being blocked from my site.

So keep in mind that at any moment, any link that you have posted on your site could become infected somehow.  Or, even worse, someone could hack into your site and it could become infected as well.  Sobering thought.

Whew...I'm glad it was not something more involved, and I'm glad I figured it out quickly.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Fried...Or, Really, Fraj-ed

The only two words I have found so far in Polish with the root "fraj-" in them are:

"frajer, frajerka" which means "sucker"

"frajda," which means "fun" or "for kicks"
e.g. ale frajda! (what a blast!)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Przeciw: Opposition

I bet y'all have been waiting with bated breath for my next post (probably not, but ya never know), seeing as how I haven't put anything new on here in a while.  I've been kinda busy showing up for the craziness lately at the Texas Capitol.  Maybe that has nothing to do with learning Polish, and shouldn't be in a Polish learning blog.  Au contraire; I beg to differ.  I studied Polish on several occasions while I was there, even while I was chanting along with the crowd.  And, besides, it's my blog, so I can write what I want.  Ha ha.

But I digress, let's get back to the topic at hand.  I want to talk about "przeciw,"  which, in general, has to do with stuff that is opposite, contrary to, or against something.  A fitting topic to talk about in relation to thousands of screaming protestors who shut this mother down.  Yippie-ki-yay.

"Przeciw" or "przeciwko" means "against."  It is a preposition, and takes the dative case.  It also forms a prefix for a ton of compound words in Polish.  I'm not going to go into all the words that are involved here, because there are a whole lot of them.  Just turn to your friendly neighborhood Polish dictionary for further guidance on this subject.  But I will talk about a few of the derivative words that are used most frequently.

"Przeciwny" means "opposite" or "contrary."  "Przeciwnie" is an adverb that means "on/to the contrary."  And "przeciwieństwo" is a noun that means "opposition" or "contrast." "Przeciwnik" refers to an "adversary" or "opponent" (another noun).

"Sprzeciw" is a noun that means "opposition" or "objection."  "Naprzeciw" is a preposition meaning "opposite" or "across from."  It takes the genitive.

"Sprzeciwiać/sprzeciwić się" means "to oppose, to stand against."

Some examples of how to stand tough against those who keep us in shackles:

powstawać przeciw - to rise against
protestować przeciw - to protest against
walczyć przeciwko - to fight against
głosować przeciwko - to vote against
w przeciwieństwie do - in contrast to
przeciwdziałać - to work against, to counteract

Saturday, June 22, 2013

More Phrases For Reinforcement

I did a previous post on phrasal reinforcement, or reinforcing the meanings of individual words by using them in conjunction with other words to create a unit of meaning that helps to illustrate their usage.  Here are some more noun phrases (usually adjective/noun or noun/noun) for thine edification.

słusznego wzrostu - of considerable height
zdrowy rozsądek - common sense
konferencja prasowa - press conference
działanie uboczne - side effect
wieża obserwacyjna - watchtower
rozstrzygający głos - decisive vote
odkryty teren - open space
handel zagraniczny - foreign commerce
pigułka antykoncepcyjna - contraceptive pill
przyciąganie ziemskie - gravity
kamień nerkowy - kidney stone
barszcz czerwony - red borscht
pracownik umysłowy - while-collar worker
zespół rockowy - rock group
psotne dziecko - mischievous child
ślepa uliczka - dead end
deficyt budżetowy - budget deficit