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published: 04 Dec 2020 in Customs

7 Polish truths to live by

Joanna Czarnecka
Joanna Czarnecka

Editor

Do you ever hear a Polish saying or a proverb and find it confusing but oddly inspiring? Today we are taking a look at our favourite Polish “words of wisdom”. See if you know them all!

Nie od razu Kraków zbudowano (Kraków was not built in a day) - this one may sound familiar to your ears. Neither Rome nor Kraków was built in a day, which can only mean that success takes both time and effort and rarely, if ever, happens overnight.

Nie ma tego złego, co by na dobre nie wyszło (There is no loss without some gain) - as a similar English saying goes, “Every cloud has a silver lining”. We need to try and make the best out of difficult or unpleasant situations in life, looking for the positive aspects of failures which may not be apparent at first glance.

Gdyby babcia miała wąsy, toby była dziadkiem (If grandma had a moustache, she would be a grandpa) - the proverb probably comes from a known Yiddish expression “If grandma had a beard, she would be a grandpa”. Both sayings suggest that there is no point in considering purely hypothetical scenarios. Apparently, Italians use another (arguably the funniest) version of this proverb: “If my grandmother had wheels she would be a bicycle”. Which one do you like best?

Śpiesz się powoli (Make haste slowly) - a literal Polish translation of the Latin oxymoron “Festina lente”. It is used to convey that you should act in a deliberate manner instead of rushing through tasks. Decisions made in haste or under pressure will often lead to mistakes.

Każdy jest kowalem swojego losu (Everyone is the smith of their own fortune) - whether you are the smith or the architect of your life, remember that it is you who needs to take action in order to achieve your goals.

Pożyjemy, zobaczymy (We will live, we will see) - a very common Polish expression used to say “time will tell how the situation plays out”. Similar to the English “wait and see”.

Jakoś to będzie (It will all work out somehow) - one of the most beloved phrases in Poland is sometimes considered to be a Polish take on “hygge”. Poles like to think that no matter what happens in the future, everything will somehow work out in the end. Maybe we will need to use our improvisation skills to get through difficult times but we will succeed eventually!

Not all Polish words can be easily translated into other languages. Read about the most "untranslatable" Polish expressions!

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