Ah, swear words, what an underestimated subject. Considered rude, but, really, a true necessity of life. Don't leave your home without them.
When it comes to Polish translation, in certain contexts, the swear words (curse words) have their both prominent and well-deserved role to play. True, English is not completely toothless in this respect, but still there is no comparison. The Poles lead by far.
Sex related swear words are most useful and, thus, most common. Let's see, the so called four letter word, or to be explicit, "fuck" - no need to be prudish here - after all it is a linguistic exercise we are involved in corresponds rather well to its Polish counterpart, although, already from the beginning Polish has an advantage here - with a whole eight letter-word. There are certain similarities regarding the use of the word in both languages, a few examples:
To fuck - pierdolić
To fuck off - odpierdolić (się)
To fuck up - spierdolić
The Polish word, however, is much more flexible than its English counterpart and has many more uses, which can make it a bit hard to translate. There are so many verbs can be replaced by the "p"-word!
To beat up - napierdolić
To break - rozpierdolić
To run - spierdolić
To steal - podpierdolić
To throw away - wypierdolić
and so on...
The flexibility of the "p"-word makes me often wonder why they do not start teaching Polish starting with it. I promise you, it will take you far in some places. (I call the "p"-word a crutch word, since it is used to replace other words and, thus, belongs, in the first place, in an uneducated man's limited vocabulary).
The translation of the speech of a street lout could look something like that (the Polish version is left out, in order as not to hurt the sensitive readers' feelings (if they happen to read this):
"I fucked up. It was a fucking day. I had a fucking drink and then I was fucked. And then this fuck comes up"
- You get the drift.
Another "nice" Polish swear-word is "kurwa" literally a "whore", although in some contexts translated as a "bitch", or even as "shit", a very useful word indeed. As a matter of fact the above translation from Polish could use a few "kurwas" in the proper place to further strengthen the argument. Please, note that although the "k"-word is also a crutch word, it is often used instead of a "comma" in the speech, thus giving the speaker a chance to recover, before continuing the argument. Thus, the above utterance, to sound more like a Polish slang
, should be liberally sprinkled with several "kurwa's in the right places. Here is a possible translation the way it could be spoken between the "real" Poles (a joke). In this context, though, I would not use the literal translation, since this would not convey its true meaning and beauty.
In this context I'd rather go for "shit" which in English can play similar role as a "comma" to the "k"-word.
"Shit, I fucked up. It was a fucking day. I had a fucking drink and then, shit, I was fucked. And then, shit, this fuck comes up"And so on...
Of course, the "kurwa" words still can be used as a regular swear word describing the quality of the person in question. "Ty kurwo," meaning literally "you whore", works well, but I'd rather translated it as "you bitch", unless it has to do with the profession of the person concerned. It should be also taken into account that, as I understand, the use of 'whore' has been lately discontinued and replaced but a more respectable "sex-worker". Although, the new form is usable under respectable circumstances, I can't envision how you can swear at someone by calling them "sex-worker". Back to the drawing board.
A nice variation on the "k"-word is a "genealogical"-swearword: "skurwysyn", i.e. in the literal translation "the son of a whore", although translated frequently as "the son of a bitch", which comes close. It is yet another widely used Polish expletive that is a must in anyone's Polish vocabulary. Although, it does not have a direct correspondence in Queen's English, the American "mother-fucker" comes close and could be used in some contexts to translate it. But the Polish "s" word is much more flexible than that; it can denote someone we dislike, someone that played a nasty trick on us, even a person we admire - all depending on the context and the way to pronounce it (which is hard to convey in translation.) Please note that the incest word that is used to translate the Polish "skurwysyn" is more or less a taboo in Polish. Funnily enough the Russians, with their ubiquitous expression "job Tvoju mat", do not have anything against expletives involving incestual sexual relations, which only shows that, after all, the Poles and Russians do not have all that much in common (at least in this respect)".
The subject of swearwords is huge and thus a suitable subject for a number of doctoral dissertations, at least. I haven't even touched the surface: what about calling someone świnia - a "pig", which can mean many different things, besides denoting the proper animal, "diabeł" the devil (go to the devil, that translates as "go to Hell" is a frequently used swearword), cholera the name of the disease, i.e kolera, yet another crutch word, but also a way to abuse a person as well (similar in the function to the English "bastard") and many, many more. In this context let us not forget about the sexual organs that are frequently used in Polish and less frequently in English (I told you that the Poles are in the lead) to abuse the members of respective sex.
I won't go on here, since as an introduction to the intricacies of the Polish swear words, the above should give you a good idea about the subject. Time to run... (Please see the proper Polish translation for this expression above).
----------Contributed by: Steven B, Australia 2005