In case you haven’t heard, Poland has suffered a serious spelling gaffe, by our President none the less.
Here’s what happened. President Bronisław Komorowski and wife wrote an entry in the book of condolences at the Japanese Embassy. He wanted to write that Poland connects with Japan in pain and in hope which should be “w bólu i nadziei” but instead he wrote “w bulu i nadzieji”.
What can I say? Even I know how to spell these words in Polish. President Komorowski responded in the only way he could. He apologized and has corrected his entry. He did also add a little dig at Kaczyński (opposing party) claiming that Kaczyński writes “obiad” (dinner) as “obiat”, but overall his apology was genuine.
Here’s my question: Why do Poles even have spelling problems? Excluding a few letters which have interchangeable pronunciation “u,ó” for example, Polish is completely phonetic. Sorry Polish people, I have to explain this to our English speaking friends who have suffered through years and years of spelling tests and spelling bees trying to figure out if it should be “so” or “sow” or “roofs” or “rooves”. Listen to me English folks…in Polish if you know how to say a word properly, you should be able to write it properly as well, with little to no interpretation. No homophones. Can you imagine that? English speaking people should make spelling mistakes. Our language is completely messed up.
Now back to the President’s mistake. Just how big of a mistake was it? You know, after 8 years of George W. I have a pretty high threshold for presidential gaffes but for those of you who do not know Polish, I will try to explain the extent of the humiliation. It is like if in one official letter, the President wrote, umm, I don’t know “definately” (instead of “definitely”) and, umm, I don’t know, “ejucation” (instead of “education”). Ok, the “ejucation” example is maybe a little harsh, but it is taken from reality**.
parody of the President from Szymon Majewski Show
Spelling mistakes really get on my nerves (of course when made by others). I was interested in looking at some terraced houses being built close to our place until I saw the price :) and the billboard advertising “wysoki standart” (high standard) instead of “wysoki standard”. With an ad like that you are just shooting yourself in the foot from the get go.
One of my students who is infamously unpleasant to all (to me as well) writes “ktury” instead of “który”. It was my pure pleasure to point it out to him. Normally I wouldn’t have said anything but it was right after he very strongly criticized my Polish skills. Revenge is sweet.
** This is taken from a real life example of a classmate of mine from university. We were asked to exchange compositions in English Literature class before handing them in. My classmate’s paper was entitled, “The American Ejucation System” or something like that. It was in no way his attempt at irony, believe me. I told him to take a look at “ejucation” and he slapped his forehead and said “Of course” to which he promptly changed it to “Ejucational”. Problem solved.
PS Here’s a link to an old post of mine about the Polish language – Polish is hard. Enjoy.