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Grammar of traditional birthday song "Sto Lat"


Turbowicz 4 | 13
15 Apr 2014 #1
Hej--jak leci?

Tomorrow is Mamusia's 86th birthday, and was thinking about the traditional Sto Lat. Just noticed after all these years that "niech żyje nam" is actually third-person singular, according to prof. Oscar Swan's terrific online dictionary: polish.slavic.pitt.edu/polish/

So it seems that the person being recognized with a rousing Sto Lat isn't receiving the good wishes directly. It's as if they're in the room, but the singers are addressing each other instead. I feel like I'm missing a cultural subtlety here. So why "niech żyje nam" instead of "niech żyjesz nam"?

Serdeczne pozdrawiam.

Andrzej in The OC.
Wulkan - | 3,249
15 Apr 2014 #2
So why "niech żyje nam" instead of "niech żyjesz nam"?

because "niech żyjesz nam" is not gramatically correct
OP Turbowicz 4 | 13
15 Apr 2014 #3
Dzięki, Wulkan, but what's wrong with "niech żyjesz nam"?
Wulkan - | 3,249
15 Apr 2014 #4
The form is wrong, correct would be "żyj nam"
Ziemowit 13 | 4,405
15 Apr 2014 #5
ust noticed after all these years that "niech żyje nam" is actually third-person singular,

It indeed is.

So it seems that the person being recognized with a rousing Sto Lat isn't receiving the good wishes directly.

And the Anglo-Saxon singers do the same thing when thay sing:
For he's a jolly good fellow ... and so say all of us!,
in a song which is the equivalent to the Polish "Sto Lat!"
OP Turbowicz 4 | 13
15 Apr 2014 #6
I agree that "For (S)He's a Jolly Good Fellow" is similar in that respect, but to me that's merely a coincidence, whereas "Happy birthday to you" is obviously directed at the celebrant. I suspect that there's a grammatical rule that I don't understand about Sto Lat and "niech żyje nam." Can anyone explain? Dzięki.
rybnik 18 | 1,461
15 Apr 2014 #7
Turbowicz, don't overthink this one. It is what it is :)
We wish the celebrant a hundred years in the third person.
Wulkan - | 3,249
15 Apr 2014 #8
Happy birthday to you" is obviously directed at the celebrant. I suspect that there's a grammatical rule that I don't understand

why is "For (S)He's a Jolly Good Fellow" in third person? I'm not a native English speaker. I suspect that there's a grammatical rule that I don't understand. Turbowicz can you please explain me that?
jon357 67 | 16,921
15 Apr 2014 #9
why is "For (S)He's a Jolly Good Fellow" in third person?

Because it's about him or her rather than to him or her. Even though the person is usually present.

I suspect that there's a grammatical rule that I don't understand.

Not here, but interestingly something like the polite form in Polish does exist in English, mostly used in shops. "Would Madam like a coffee?" etc. Very old fashioned and I think I've only ever heard it in films.
Wulkan - | 3,249
16 Apr 2014 #10
Wulkan:why is "For (S)He's a Jolly Good Fellow" in third person?

You didn't get my sarcasm but I appreciate your effort.
OP Turbowicz 4 | 13
16 Apr 2014 #11
Serdeczne appreciate your effort. (Not a native Polish speaker.)
PolandFan1111
19 May 2016 #12
Merged: Question on Birthday Song

I wanted to send a catchy birthday song to a polish friend and I don't know a single word of polish. Is this just a general happy birthday song which is appropriate to send, or is it commemorating the birth of someone specific? Thanks!!!

youtube.com/watch?v=CDzTy5YEpw4
smurf 39 | 1,981
19 May 2016 #13
youtube.com/watch?v=CDzTy5YEpw4

Naw, that's not really popular, it's a translation of the English Happy Birthday, some people sing it but it's not very popular

This is the standard one



It's a crappy version, but that's the name: sto lat

It means 100 years, basically you don't wish happy birthday, you wish them 100 years.


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