June 1, 2011 | Polish
I start this language already knowing a whopping 15 words.
Today was the start of my Polish studies. One place I expect to visit a number of times in the coming months is Greenpoint, a heavily Polish neighborhood in Brooklyn.
I’m afraid I didn’t know/remember this characteristic of Greenpoint until last month, when Brandt and I went there for a friend’s book reading. As soon as we popped out of the Greenpoint subway station, we were surrounded by Polish. I was ecstatic. It seemed like a good omen for this upcoming segment.
Polonaise Terrace, Greenpoint
Polish (I Think) Meat Market
Polish Paper, Seen in a Greenpoint Bakery
Polish Memory Cards, Sold at Word Bookstore
I was in Poland once, I believe when I was about seven, with my family. This was in the 1970s—so a very different time for Poland.
During our trip, my sister Diana and I learned to count to ten in Polish, and also to say “thank you” and the all-critical “I don’t speak Polish.”
These things have stuck in my head all these years, despite the fact that I have never gone back. I’m not sure why. I remember that trying to say things in a language I knew absolutely nothing about was unbelievable fun.
Polish Sign on a Greenpoint Window
One of my strongest memories from this trip is that we didn’t know how to say 12, and my stepmother—who I believe taught us the numbers as she learned them herself—wanted to buy a dozen eggs, so she tried saying six twice.
It didn’t work, and we ended up short on eggs. By half, I believe.
My sister and I found that hilarious. I think we subsequently brought up this incident about 3,000 times during the remainder of our respective childhoods.
But in any case, I am actually starting out with way more vocabulary in Polish than I’ve had in a number of the other languages I’ve studied for this project.
Now, off to augment my seven-year-old self’s Polish vocabulary!