Saturday, December 15, 2012

Ohboyka, It's A Trójka (and Other News)

Polish, in addition to ordinal numbers, cardinal numbers, and collective numbers, has noun names for numbers as well.  The easiest thing to picture for English speakers is the troika. (trojka, trójka).  These numerical designations are pretty common throughout many Slavic languages and are fairly similar; Some of the spellings are different in the different slavic languages, so I have included some of the most common spellings you will encounter.

Let's talk about the trójka (now I'm spelling it in the Polish fashion, with the accent on the o that gives it a "u" sound, and the "j" instead of the "i".  Congratulations.  You are now in Polish world.

A polish noun word describes some identity or group that occurs in the number stated, and usually performs some type of action.  Maybe there's a trójka of bullies over there waiting to argue the finer points of Brownian motion with you.  Or maybe they just want to contain you in the basement for an indefinite period.

But maybe our trójka wants to stop fiddling with your civil liberties and wands to just fiddle in cadence and harmonies and let people listen.  But after playing the oboe for a while, you realize that you might be late to take the trójka (bus) across town to buy costumes for your szóstka which the same (or at least close to the same) is performing across town.

So let's review the different ways that you can come up for a group, or a spy cell, a committee, or something else you can express with a finite group of people all working to do something dangerous or innocuous.

If you have only one, it would be a jedynka.  You have separated yourself into a unit of one, away from everybody else on the earth, for whatever devious scheme you have on hand.  Personally, I hope it involves a banjo.  Those things are insidiously revolutionary.

But then old Piotr shows up with a washboard to play with the banjo.  Now you're a dwójka.  Add another member, you've got a trójka.  See how fun this can be?

Hopefully your trójka is forming for music rather than vigilante justice (although there are definitely times when the two concepts are indistinguishable).

So the rest of the numbers that you are going to use, as more folks show up, are:


We can even go farther.  If we want to make some really wild music, we'll throw some bizarre instruments into the mix and have


...and so forth.

In other news for the day, I've added widgets that will give you a Polish word of the day and a Dutch word of the day.  Maybe I'll eventually add more languages.


  1. You've got small mistakes in 'dziewiątka' and 'dziesiątka'. There should be 't', not 'd'. Your blog is really interesting and funny for Pole ;)

  2. Thanks, you're right. I'll correct those. I guess sometimes I just type too fast and don't proofread enough.