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One never knows, does one? (Polish equivalent)


Pan Zuk Gnojowy 10 | 24
3 Mar 2012  #1
Hey Everybody.

Quick question that I can't seem to find an answer to:

Is there a Polish equivalent to the, now slightly obscure, depersonalised pronoun "One", in English.
(some of these examples might transgress the intended use of urmm... one-ism :) )
Meaning : "I"
"One feels a bit depressed at times like this."

meaning "you"
"How is one today?"

more often meaning Undefined 3rd person ergo: People in general.

"One can never tell"
"Eating too much Bigos does make one fart rather often, does it not?"
"One has to take the rough with the smooth, does one not?"
"One cannot live on bread alone, old boy"
"One's past shapes one's future"

that kind of thing.

Obviously in most of these, you could, and probably would use "you".
This form is rather redundant and one tends to avoid it, unless one enjoys one's friends taking oneself for a member of the Royal elite..

I can think of at least one in a Polish equivalent using "Człowiek"
gumishu 11 | 4,956
3 Mar 2012  #2
you use various impersonal constructions in Polish

like using words trzeba, można, wiadomo

impersonal forms are also created adding się to some verbs and using them in the third person - Czuło się, że coś się wydarzy. One could sense that something was going to happen.

and yes sentences using 'człowiek' are also used like - One learns from mistakes. Człowiek się uczy na błędach.
a.k.
3 Mar 2012  #3
"One can never tell"

Nikt nie jest w stanie powiedzieć.

"Eating too much Bigos does make one fart rather often, does it not?"

Jedzenie zbyt dużych ilości bigosu sprawia, że się raczej często pierdzi, czyż nie?

"One has to take the rough with the smooth, does one not?"

Trzeba akceptować zarówno złe jak i dobre strony rzeczy (I'm not sure of the idiom meaning), czyż nie?

"One cannot live on bread alone, old boy"

Nie samym chlebem człowiek żyje (it's a proverb in Polish)

"One's past shapes one's future"

Czyjaś przeszłość kształtuje czyjąś przyszłość.

As gumishu has already said there are various ways to avoid using a defined person
gumishu 11 | 4,956
3 Mar 2012  #4
Pan Zuk Gnojowy:
"One can never tell"

Nikt nie jest w stanie powiedzieć.

Nigdy nie wiadomo is a very good translation, too

Pan Zuk Gnojowy:
"One's past shapes one's future"

Czyjaś przeszłość kształtuje czyjąś przyszłość.

there is some ambiguity to your translation a.k. (it can mean that one's past can shape somebody else's future)

I think 'Przeszłość człowieka kształtuje jego przyszłość.' is a better one

Pan Zuk Gnojowy:
"One cannot live on bread alone, old boy"

Nie samym chlebem człowiek żyje (it's a proverb in Polish)

I would translate it as: Nie da się przeżyć na samym chlebie. (as I don't think the phrase has a proverb value in English and is just a plain sentence)
OP Pan Zuk Gnojowy 10 | 24
3 Mar 2012  #5
Thanks for the replies, I had a feeling there would be a myriad of methods for the same aim. I'll take time to study your translations later, thanks for them.

As for "Man cannot live on bread alone", apologies if I've misread you Gumishu, but it definitely does have the same proverbial meaning in English as Polish!

Nie samym chlebem człowiek żyje - was actually one of the first bits of Polish I ever learnt, except, working in a crisps factory at the time, I changed it to: "Nie samym chipsem człowiek żyje"
gumishu 11 | 4,956
3 Mar 2012  #6
As for "Man cannot live on bread alone", apologies if I've misread you Gumishu, but it definitely does have the same proverbial meaning in English as Polish!

it's ok - I wasn't aware it has a proverbial sense in English too
a.k.
3 Mar 2012  #7
a myriad of methods for the same aim.

I'm not a linguist but I think that there are actually two which correspond with English 'one':

Trzeba/Porzeba = one needs/has/must to
Wiadomo, że = it is known that (but in some context might be translated as 'one doesn't know')
Można = it is possible, allowed (but also in some contexts 'one can')
Należy = it should be (but also 'one should')

e.g.
Trzeba się ciepło ubierać zimą = one needs to wear warm clothes in winter

Powszechnie wiadomo, że woda zamarza na mrozie - It's widely known that water freezes at the freeze (rather obvious statement...)
Nigdy nie wiadomo co mu wpadnie do głowy! - One never knows what next idea will pop to his mind! (someone is unpredictible)

Można się tam kąpać? - is it allowed there to bath?
Można się przeziębić na tym mrozie! - one can get cold on this freeze!

Należy spożyć przed (data) - it should be eaten before (date)
Należy najpierw pomyśleć zanim się coś zrobi! - one should think before doing something!

verb (of the III person form) + się

Chodzi się w kółko i nie wiadomo co ze sobą zrobić - taka nuda tam panuje!
Używa się tego w ten sposób:
W stanie delirium ma się halucynacje i zawroty głowy.
Myśli się, myśli, i nie można nic wymyślić.


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