July 1, 2011 | Polish
Polish People Are Everywhere!
I am getting language assistance in unexpected places.
Lately I am encountering Polish almost as much as I encounter Spanish. It has been surprising, since Spanish is ubiquitous in New York and Polish is not.
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According to the Modern Language Association Data Center, in 2000 in New York City, there were 1,832,365 million Spanish speakers versus 60,770 Polish speakers.
But, as I have mentioned previously, I encounter Polish people close to daily at my favorite café. In addition, as I have not mentioned previously, a number of Polish contractors do regular work in my building.
I am friendly with a couple of them who I think will speak with me in Polish when I become more interesting and conversational, and can go beyond spouting random and therefore socially inappropriate things such as Rower jest stary (the bicycle is old) or Kot jest pod stołem (the cat is under the table). Currently they tend to revert to English with me.
There is also a Polish employee at the physical therapy office I have been going to. (Physical therapy is my latest, and most successful, effort to date to restore my running ability, such as it is. It’s actually working, I think. I hope.) His name is Michael, and besides being Polish and a taskmaster (good for physical therapy; you don’t want a pushover), he happens to be a natural-born language teacher.
Today when he stretched me after my assigned strength-building exercises, he quizzed me on what I had been learning. He asked me about the vocabulary I knew and then made little forays off of that. I left feeling as though maybe I knew a little more than I had thought I knew. (Which is good; all the declensions have been giving me a confidence crisis.)
And there’s more!
At this local shop I go to maybe once every few weeks, there is a new Polish-speaking employee. She moved here when she was five, but her parents sent her to Polish school on the weekends and she grew up speaking to them in Polish, so she is fluent.
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This morning when I was in there, I told her a couple of the sentences I had learned recently, including Drabina jest zepsuta. That means, “The ladder is broken.” She laughed.
In a final coincidence, this afternoon a New York friend skyped my husband and me from his travels abroad, and he just happened to have a Polish friend with him.
Drabina jest zepsuta, I told her, as an illustration of my Polish prowess. She laughed.
Yes, indeed, I am quite the conversationalist.