Sunday, June 27, 2010

Somewhere a Dinner Gets Cold – Gdzieś Stygnie Obiad

I have just read an interesting article  "Somewhere a Dog Barked" by Rosecrans Baldwin published here in Slate.

The article addresses the literary use of phrases such as “somewhere a dog barked”  and “a dog barks in the distance”. These phrases and other similar ones show up in a wide array of literature over time. So, what’s up with the barking dogs?

The author of the article suggests that the barking dogs could just be the lazy remains of an author thinking through the scene while still writing. In Baldwin’s opinion, use of these phrases when said dog never makes an appearance are “empty and cheap”, but the author does make another suggestion of just what could be behind all those barking dogs - perhaps those barking dogs represent an inside joke between authors, a kind of “Hey. I’m a published author, too” kind of a thing.

I am convinced that the same phenomenon occurs in Poland as well, not in written literature, but on television. Before you read on, please note that I am totally serious. I think the writers of one Polish television program have made some kind of a bet, probably over a bottle of vodka. The bet being this: “Hey, I bet you can’t work this phrase into each and every episode” which was answered by “You are on, sucker!”

From that hypothesized bet made years ago (in my imagination) we now must endure the oft-repeated phrase, “Umyj ręce bo obiad stygnie” on Klan (Wash your hands. Dinner is getting cold). If you don’t believe it, just watch a couple of episodes with my (imaginary) bet in mind and tell me that they don’t say it way too often to be by accident. I think I’m on to something.

Or maybe a barking dog is just a barking dog and a cold dinner is nothing more than a cold dinner.

Not to jinx any remote chance of anything I have written ever being published, I finish this post listening to the faint hum of my computer, the rhythmic breathing of my sleeping children and the sound of a dog barking somewhere in the distance.

Good night

Gdzieś Stygnie Obiad

Właśnie przeczytałam ciekawy artykuł “Somewhere a Dog Barked” autorstwa Rosecrans Baldwina opublikowany tutaj w Slate.

Ten artykuł dotyczy literackiego użycia takich zwrotów jak „gdzieś zaszczekał pies” i „pies szczekał w oddali”. Te zwroty i inne podobne pojawiają się w szerokiej gamie literatury poprzez różne epoki. O co chodzi z tymi szczekającymi psami?

Autor artykułu sugeruje, że szczekające psy to mogą być leniwe resztki autora i jego myśli w trakcie pisania. Według Baldwina, używanie tego zwrotu, kiedy wskazany pies nigdy nie pojawi w historii ani przed ani potem jest „puste i tanie”. Chociaż autor ma pomysł, co kryje się za tymi szczekającymi psami. Może to jest prywatny dowcip między autorami – jakieś „Hej, patrzcie na mnie. Ja też jestem publikowanym autorem.”

Jestem przekonana że takie samo zjawisko istnieje w Polsce, nie w literaturze ale w telewizji. Przed dalszym czytaniem, proszę wziąć pod uwagę, że mówię na serio. Myślę, że pisarze jednego z seriali telewizyjnych mają jakiś zakład między sobą, prawdopodobnie założony przy butelce wódki. Zakład jest taki: „Hej. Na pewno wy nie możecie wykorzystać takiego zwrotu w każdym odcinku”, na który dostał odpowiedz „Coś ty. Możemy! Zakład stoi, frajerzy!”

Od tego hipotetycznego zakładu ustanowionego wieki temu (tak sobie to wyobrażam) teraz musimy znosić często powtarzany zwrot „Umyj ręce, bo obiad stygnie” z Klanu. Jak nie wierzysz mi, proszę, obejrzyj kilka odcinków mając ten (fikcyjny) zakład na myśli i powiedz mi, że nie nadużywają tego zwrotu – o dużo za dużo żeby to było przez przypadek. Chyba coś w tym jest.

Albo szczekający pies to po prostu szczekający pies a stygnący obiad to nic więcej niż tylko stygnący obiad.

Nie chcę zapeszać mało prawdopodobnej szansy, że moje prace będą kiedyś opublikowane, tak więc, kończę ten post słuchając cichego szumu mojego komputera, rytmicznego oddychania dzieci z sypialni, i szczekanie psa gdzieś w oddali.

Dobranoc

7 comments:

ucieczka said...

But on english-language sitcom's there is also a phrase 'wash your hands before eating" :) However, yes -Klan is winning in the usage of this.

I don't know if you won't be mad if I comment about the translation itself? Misiu checked this so maybe I better shut up, but as I started to talk about it, I probably can say what I'm pointing at. Just please don't be mad, no hard feelings!! I love to read you, really I do!

I have a question about the translation.
I would understand two meanings of 'bet over a bottle of vodka' - as you have said, they were drinking and came up with this idea, and as 'the one who uses it the most times wins vodka'. later you say that “You are on, sucker!”. So instead zakład między sobą, prawdopodobnie założony PRZY butelce wodki" "should be" - "O butelke wodki".


And in the sentence "Hej, patrzcie na mnie. Ja też jestem publikowanym autorem.” I would use - autorem wielu publikacji. This is only a correction between ładny - piękny ;)

Chris said...

Don't worry and thanks for the love :)

About the vodka, it should remain przy. I was thinking that they were drinking and came up with the idea, not that vodka is the prize.

And about the dogs, I was thinking that it could be used when you are published for the first time, so I think that could stay as it is too.

Anyhow, thanks for paying such attention and basically reading my post twice, in English and then in Polish. I appreciate it and now I know how to bet "o butelke wódki". That could come in handy :)(bet on a bottle of vodka)

Anonymous said...

Me too, me too ( have read twice in English and in Polish ). Maybe you are right, Chris, about the jokes and the bets. However I find in these repetitive ( to the point of becoming annoying ) sentences some writers' way of constructing their worlds :
'Umyj rece, bo obiad stygnie'
means perhaps : there is obiad, it is nice and hot, you have it cooked and served with TLC ( what a bliss ), someone here loves you and cares for you, this world is safe just remember about hands, there are rules, nasty germs must be removed, all is now shining gently, just enjoy !
And with the dog it must be similar - although poor me always afraid of dogs and sometimes being alone in some strange places... no, definitely the dog's barking isn't as reassuring as the goracy kapusniak na stole !
Zofia

Chris said...

Zofia- I hadn't thought about it that way and I think that you're on to something. I mean they have to set the scene and create their world using short-cuts like "wash your hands" (dinner will be served with love) or "I'll put the kettle on" (you are an honored guest)'cause the show is only 20 minutes long :)

In the article (or comments to article) it was also suggested that the appearance of the dog represents God's presence (or absence, I don't remember now). That's interesting too.

Thanks for reading (4x).

Totally unrelated...I've never eaten kapuśniak.

Mama G. said...

Hey! 'Umyj ręce' is probably used because of children who watch Klan - its familiar and educational sitcom :)
BTW - Love your posts! Always makes me smile :)
Good day to You and dont forget to wash your hands!

Anonymous said...

Kapusniak is meant here as a kind of metaphor :-)
Am rather a hopeless cook myself but somehow got this idea that watery bigos could pass for kapusniak, just serve it piping hot. And so the clever kitchen slave is able to produce 'zupe' and 'drugie danie' ( kapusniak and bigos ). Do not ask me for a dessert because am getting upset :-)))
Zofia

Chris said...

Mama G- Thanks for the compliments. Now when I think about it, I say, "go and wash your hands" about 15 times a day (minus the "dinner is getting cold" part) :)

Zofia- Anyhow, it's too hot to cook, right?