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"No tak"; The Oddest Phrase In Polish For This American


jasondmzk
13 Mar 2013  #1
Or is it, "No, tak"? Is there a comma? It sounds like "no, yes.". I guess first I'd have to fully understand the Polish use of "No". As best as I can grasp it, "No tak" means something along the lines of "yes, well..", or "yes, but..."? A little help here, please.
Polson 5 | 1,771
13 Mar 2013  #2
Yes, it's something like 'well, yes', or 'see...'.
And yes, it's a funny particularity of Polish ;)
OP jasondmzk
13 Mar 2013  #3
Interesting. Could cause some trouble for a young lady dating a feverish young man whom doesn't speak Polish, couldn't it? (No! Yes!) So, what then, is the closest definition of the Polish "No"?
Polson 5 | 1,771
13 Mar 2013  #4
I think 'well' is the closest probably...

Reminds me of an anecdote my dad told me. He's French. My mum is Polish. The first time he had lunch at my mum's family, in Poland, he could not understand why when people were asked if they wanted more kluski, and answered 'no', they would get more kluski... They had just said 'no'!! ;)
pip 10 | 1,661
13 Mar 2013  #5
It has a few meanings.

it is a phrase in agreement or emphasis but not always and depending on how many used at one time.

no
no, no
no,no,no

all have different meanings.
I kid you not.
Lenka 2 | 1,366
13 Mar 2013  #6
Reminds me of an anecdote my dad told me. He's French. My mum is Polish. The first time he had lunch at my mum's family, in Poland, he could not understand why when people were asked if they wanted more kluski, and answered 'no', they would get more kluski... They had just said 'no'!! ;)

My teacher (American) asked a girl for her phone number and she said yes (Polish no) . He said bye and walked away. The girl was suprised went after him and asked him why he walked away before she gave him her number :)
Polson 5 | 1,771
13 Mar 2013  #7
Hehe, yup, can be pretty confusing in some situations ;)
OP jasondmzk
13 Mar 2013  #8
Imagine raising a little girl in two languages, with two different "no's". It's proving a hassle.
Maybe 12 | 409
13 Mar 2013  #9
The pronunciation of the English NO and the Polish No, is completely different, in English the O is clearly pronounced, whilst in the Polish it is short and swallowed. Anyway that is how i figure it.
OP jasondmzk
13 Mar 2013  #10
The pronunciation of the English NO and the Polish No, is completely different,

But the pronunciation of anything is different in English and Polish. When my wife says "no", it sounds like she's saying no with a Polish accent. And I'm sure it's the obverse when I say it. At least to our kid.
milawi
13 Mar 2013  #11
That's true, we usually don't pronounce English 'O' in the proper 'round' way, usually omitting the '£" sound at the end of it, so it can be confusing.

no
no, no
no,no,no

all have different meanings.

:) so true, but here the meaning is usually hidden in the intonation ( I think)
You can say 'No, no, no - wyglądasz dziś jak milion dolarów' - with rising intonation and 'No, no, no - tak nie wolno' with falling intonation. The first phrase will express approval or admiration, the second one disapproval.
zaqi0 - | 2
13 Mar 2013  #12
Polish "No" is like english "yes". You can use it in many situations. "No tak" (of course yes), "No nie" (of course not), if someone will ask you "Do you want an sanchwich?" Polish accented "No" will be accepting answer. But it's a rude form. Better to use "tak, poproszę, chętnie. mhm :)".
Gregrog 4 | 100
14 Mar 2013  #13
Heh, back in England when I was listening to my English supervisor giving me orders for night shift I was wondering why he was staring at me strangely ... than I realised I was answering him "No ok, no problem" ;)
peter_olsztyn 6 | 1,098
14 Mar 2013  #14
I noticed that my English workmates reacted to "no no" (expression of agreement catched from our conversation in Polish)
like a warning no, don't do it, stop or hold on I tried to avoid using it.
Lyzko
21 Mar 2013  #15
It's eternally entertaining, as well as often plain enlightening, what one can learn from language interference errors and misperceptions of the target language by foreigners. This "No, tak" is just one useful example of something which sounds like the exact opposite of what it actually is:-) On the the other hand, years ago I gave a German man a lift in my rent-a-car while I was visiting Stuttgart. He insisted on speaking English, and so (he was paying me, after all!!) I consented. He paid in advance and we drove off at a fiar clip. Approximately ten minutes into our journey he blurts out "Hold on!" and I motion to grip the leather straps to his right. A second or two later, he says louder "HOLD ON!". Irritated, I tell him again to hang on to the strap so he won't fall over on to me! Finally, he says in German "BITTE, HALT DOCH AN!", meaning "Will you pull up here, please!

He mistook "Halt an!" for "Hold on!", rather than "Stop over her!", which is what he meant to say. Stupidly, I didn't pick up on the glitch until it was barely too lateLOL
polonius 54 | 420
22 Mar 2013  #16
Learners of Polish should bear in mind that Polish 'no' meaning 'yes' is extremely colloquial, at times (in a more formal setting) even impolite and inapprorpriate.. In that sense it is comparable to a the very casual term 'na' said when handing someone something. Roughly it conveys the flavour of: Hey you, grab hold of this... The poilite term would be 'proszę'.
Zibi - | 336
22 Mar 2013  #17
The polish word "no" is simply an emphatic particle. It serves to emphasize the point a speaker is trying to make.
For example:

Weź to! means: take it!,

while

No, weź to! means: take it already! (could be said to someone delaying reception of an object which is being given, offered)
Lyzko
22 Mar 2013  #18
No, co słychać? = So (Well), what's up?

Ona oddawno nie już pracuje. - No? = She hasn't been working for the longest time. - Oh, yeah?
ShortHairThug - | 1,103
22 Mar 2013  #19
Ona oddawno nie już pracuje. - No? = She hasn't been working for the longest time. - Oh, yeah?

Ona od dawna już nie pracuje. :) No tak, chyba już czas znaleźć jakąś pracę. Mam nadzieję, że pomożesz.
OP jasondmzk
22 Mar 2013  #20
Huh. You know, the more you guys explain it, the more the Polish "no" seems to have in common with the Yiddish "nu?" It's almost always posed as a question, and the closest word in English would be "well?". I always thought it came from the German, "na"; but now... maybe they all come from each other.
ShortHairThug - | 1,103
22 Mar 2013  #21
When I hear "nu" Ну, погоди! Always comes to mind for some reason. :)
Ironside 48 | 9,695
22 Mar 2013  #22
No in Polish do not mean yes.
Yes=tak
No alone explains as Yeah or yep in English.
Meaning of Polish No in combination with other words needs to be learned.
Like:
No Tak - can mean - well, yes, or indeed, or sure thing or told you so - depends on intonation, circumstances and context.
Lyzko
22 Mar 2013  #23
Thanks, ShortHair!

I really meant that she's bezrobotnica and was merely using "No" in order to illustrate the nonchalance of the other person's response:-)
ShortHairThug - | 1,103
22 Mar 2013  #24
I really meant that she's bezrobotnica

You mean bezrobotna, :) Don't take it the wrong way, all I did is to expend on your thought. Good example btw.
Lyzko
22 Mar 2013  #25
Much appreciated, ShortHair! Always grateful for correction whenever need (..which, sadly, seems all too often these daysLOL).
Pola_P - | 2
15 Apr 2013  #26
A very interesting discussion!
As a Polish native speaker I want to confirm Ironside's opinion:

No in Polish do not mean yes.
Yes=tak" alone explains as Yeah or yep in English.
Meaning of Polish No in combination with other words needs to be learned.
Like:
No Tak - can mean - well, yes, or indeed, or sure thing or told you so - depends on intonation, circumstances and context.

It is worth to emphasise also polonius's explanation:

Learners of Polish should bear in mind that Polish 'no' meaning 'yes' is extremely colloquial, at times (in a more formal setting) even impolite and inappropriate...

Polish "no" instead of "tak (yes)" as a short answer shows our interlocutor as an uneducated person. It sounds somehow plebeian, sometimes: rude.

Many young Poles answer nowadays a telephone call (when they can see who is calling: someone well known) this way: "No, cześć!"
I am forty and I hate that. It sounds very rude for me and many people in my age or older agree with me.
The meaning of this phrase depends of the intonation. It can mean: "I have been waiting for your call so long and I am a little angry now!"

or it can mean: "Oh, it's only you. I hoped to get a telephone call from someone more interesting or important".
Both of these hidden messages are rude.

My advice for Polish learners: don't use a Polish word "no".
Lyzko
15 Apr 2013  #27
In colloquial speech, most of the time we all can come off as "rude", i.e. "casual". However, casualness or off-handed comments are not necessarily rude in other cultures:-)
Maybe 12 | 409
15 Apr 2013  #28
I had a student a few years back ( teenager), who use to reply with, " No ja nie!". It was hilarious, he combined Kaszubski and Polish.

This lad stood out amongst his peers, he was the thickest or the thick. His mother use to attend the classes with him and hang her head in shame as he was SO dense. What made it all the funnier was she's an Speech Therapist, " taught kids to roll their Rs", yet he sounded like he had rolled out of a barn. His father is very wealthy and owns a huge prominent business in the area.

So the kid has lots of cash and no brains.......
Lyzko
15 Apr 2013  #29
Money almost never equates with either class or level of schooling, frequently just the opposite!

Brains are another matter. Some of us are as clever as animals, having the instincts of a cougar, say, yet little to any culture which is what supposedly separates the human animal from our four-legged companions:-)

Regrettably, all too many don't see it that way. At least here in the States, "education" in terms of schooling, was basically cancelled under Ronald ReaganLOL
milawi
15 Apr 2013  #30
"education" in terms of schooling, was basically cancelled

what do you mean by that?


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