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Little-known facts about Poland


Polonius3 1,000 | 12,448
1 May 2015 #1
Little-known facts about Poland and Poles:

slavorum.org/25-facts-about-poland-that-you-didnt-know
jon357 63 | 14,280
1 May 2015 #2
Some of these are spurious to say the least. Hevelius did live in PL however he was of German (and possibly some British) background and unlike Niklaus Copernicus Poland doesn't claim him to be Polish. There are other similar things like pointing out that the ground floor is called the ground floor and not the first which is upstairs. This is normal for most of the world and hardly a 'little-known fact' about Poland.

Also the 'first constitution' in Europe isn't Poland's. Nor was Copernicus the first person to suggest the solar system is heliocentric - he was the first to mathematically prove an existing theory.

Several other howlers too.
OP Polonius3 1,000 | 12,448
1 May 2015 #3
Hevelius was a German-speaking Lutheran living in Gdańsk when it was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. He was also known to have studied the Polish language.

The 3rd of May Constitution was Europe's first modern constitution. Iceland has something in olden times that might be construed as a constitution-like charter.

For Americans the 1st floor is the ground floor, the floor above it -- the 2nd floor. This compilation was obviously geared for an American audience.

Myself I'm wondering whether Poles should take credit for Jewish achievements. I doubt whether Max Factor was an ethnic Pole. When he emigrated there wasn't even a Poland on the map.
jon357 63 | 14,280
1 May 2015 #4
Your points in order:
1. Glad you agree he was a German. Not even the nuttiest nationalist crank would describe him as Polish.
2. No, there are two much older. Neither is Iceland's. One still (and always) legally in force.
3. This isn't about Americans. All of Europe and most of the world do it the same way as Poland.

The last point is related to your favourite topic. Analogous to Scottish sportsmen being British when they win and Scottish when they lose, there are plenty of people who would deny that somebody Jewish is fully a Pole but doesn't mind the list of Nobel prize winners which would otherwise be rather small.

There are a few other questionable ones on that list - it looks like it was written by teenagers from elsewhere in Europe. Looking at the site I'd guess the former Yugoslavia.
Kurzer555 - | 12
1 May 2015 #5
@Polonius3 You can certainly take credit for Polish Jews' acheivements. In Israel being of Polish extraction 'Polani' is a badge of honour and there is certainly some snobbish elitism concerning this. I include myself here. Most Polish Jews and their descendents are actually insulted and sad that Modern Poles don't include at all us in their definition of Poles today. Do certain Poles think the same about the Polish Tatars or the Non-Catholic Orthodox Poles in the East? I guess it's all about whether you define a Pole according to Dmowski or Piłsidski. But feel free to include us we would be honoured!
Roger5 1 | 1,458
1 May 2015 #6
I'd guess the former Yugoslavia

Certainly somewhere without articles in their language. I wonder whether the revolting habit of drowning pizza in ketchup is actually dying out. Hand kissing definitely is. I haven't seen it in ages.
jon357 63 | 14,280
1 May 2015 #7
The slathering ketchup on pizza is alive and well, but in the more expensive places they make their own. Garlic sauce too. And look surprised when you don't want any (plus stare when you don't eat it with a knife and fork)!
Roger5 1 | 1,458
1 May 2015 #8
De Grasso gives you a little tub of ketchup and one of garlic sauce. Years ago I ordered a pizza and it came pre-drowned in ketchup. It could have been anything underneath; it just tasted of ketchup. Next time I went to that pizzeria I specifically asked for no ketchup. The guy looked at me as if I were a little simple, but went ahead and baked my order. Before closing the box he called me over, held a ketchup bottle over the pizza and, with an imploring look, offered me one last chance to come to my senses.
Dougpol1 33 | 3,409
1 May 2015 #9
offered me one last chance to come to my senses.

Weird things about Poland.......of which that is one - now that would be a long thread :)
Roger5 1 | 1,458
1 May 2015 #10
Why do shops stock tinned fish in the fridge?
jon357 63 | 14,280
1 May 2015 #11
Or why there are bathrooms with no window, even on an external wall...
Gosc123456
1 May 2015 #12
There are also kitchens without Windows (i.e. in those communist blocks)
jon357 63 | 14,280
1 May 2015 #13
Plenty of those all around.

Also in Poland there are no letterboxes in the 'hole in the door' sense.
johnny reb 20 | 4,516
1 May 2015 #14
Why do shops stock tinned fish in the fridge?

I eat a lot of the Polish tinned herring made by Pampa and keep mine in the cupboard.
A tin of those with some cheese. biscuits and beer makes a meal.
Support Poland !
kpc21 1 | 763
1 May 2015 #15
Or why there are bathrooms with no window, even on an external wall...

If you are having a bath, or shower, you would rather not want anybody watch you :)

2. No, there are two much older. Neither is Iceland's. One still (and always) legally in force.

If you mean the American one, they have written that the 3rd May constitution was the first in Europe, the second in the world (after just the American one). If you know an older one - tell us about it :)

Something that isn't known even by most of Poles is that between 1974 and 1991 Poland had the tallest object in the world - a longwave radio broadcasting antenna. And nothing tallest had been built anywhere before 2010.

When he emigrated there wasn't even a Poland on the map.

And what does it have in common with his nationality? Poland didn't exist on the world map for 123 years, but it survived as a nation, although the occupying countries were doing their best to destroy Polish culture. I wouldn't say it's anything unique, but still the lack of Poland on the maps doesn't mean he couldn't be a Pole.

According to Wikipedia he was Jewish. But there were many Jews that considered themselves Poles at the same time. To be sure about his nationality, one would have to find sources relating what he was saying about it.

Considering the fact about dog names - personally, I don't know anybody having a dog called Burek. It's known as an example of a name for a dog (another, maybe even a more popular one, is Azor), but I don't believe that there are such statistics at all. There is, however, a proverb "Nie jednemu psu Burek" - literally "Not only one dog is called Burek". Meaning is rather obvious.

About secondary education - currently the final exams (Matura) are deliberately made simple to make Poland look well in statistics.

About Kevin Home Alone and Christmas - I wouldn't call it a tradition, but actually there were some protests of viewers when a TV station that had been showing this movie every Chritmas for a long time (Polsat) once decided not to do it :)

About the film dubbing - it refers only to TV, not to cinemas, and this way of translating movies isn't called dubbing :) It's better than dubbing in that you can still hear the original actors. Dubbing in Poland also exists, but on TV it's used only for movies for children, or for some "for the whole family". In cinemas the films are usually displayed in two versions - with dubbing and with subtitles. Subtitles aren't used on Polish TV almost at all. If so, then rather as an addition to a Polish soundtrack, for the deaf people (they aren't normally displayed on the screen, they are sent via teletext on the 777 page, or now, in the era of digital TV, via the "DVB subtitles").
ItsyBitsy
1 May 2015 #16
I have seen canned dog food in a referigerator box in carefour.

Also never saw oregano or garlic powder for pizza,when asked for garlic they gave me fresh sliced garlic instead.
yehudi 1 | 432
11 May 2015 #17
Most Polish Jews and their descendents are actually insulted and sad that Modern Poles don't include at all us in their definition of Poles today.

You're exaggerating! I'm a descendant of Polish Jews and I'd be surprised if modern Poles would consider me Polish today. Within Israel the word "Polani" (Polish) is a code word for a bourgeois person with old-fashioned European mannerisms, like Menachem Begin for example. A "Polish Mother" is the Israeli equivalent for what Americans refer to as a Jewish Mother. (Since nearly every mother here is Jewish, that term wouldn't mean anything.) So a "Polish mother" is a loving, overbearing smothering mother who dotes over her children. All of these references aren't based on ethnically Polish people at all but to Polish Jews as they exist in the popular imagination.
OP Polonius3 1,000 | 12,448
14 May 2015 #18
Remember, there is this opinionated expat crony of yours who claims a scrap of paper (citizenship certificate, passport, etc.) is everything. By his standards any citizen of the Najjaśniejsza Rzeczpospolita would be Polish. Hevelius was defintiely a citizen.

I don't necessarily buy into that, but since you two usually support each other, that may be your view as well.
jon357 63 | 14,280
14 May 2015 #19
If you are having a bath, or shower, you would rather not want anybody watch you :)

Pretty hard to watch through obscure glass - and anyway, natural light and fresh air are the most important things. Mind you, in PL, I've seen people deliberately block ventilation holes!

If you mean the American one, they have written that the 3rd May constitution was the first in Europe,

Nope - both in Europe. Two written constitutions are older than the defunct Polish one. One (you'll have to find out where, but a clue is that it's in southern Europe) of them is even still in force....

About the film dubbing - it refers only to TV, not to cinemas,

I've come across it in cinemas and on video too unfortunately. It isn't unique to Poland - the Russians do it as well. I've heard various contrived excuses from people trying to explain why it's better - they don't ring true.The reason it's still done are four fold. Firstly because it's much cheaper - not only to do but also in licensing the film for use on the Polish market, secondly because Slavic languages in general and Russian & Polish in particular tend to be more verbose than English making dubbing awkward. Thirdly, a significant section of the Polish film audience finds reading a chore, and finally, because it allows for quick and easy bowdlerisation.

Hevelius was defintiely a citizen

There wasn't the same concept of citizenship then, and nobody (except you) claims him as Polish, With Copernicus, nationality is a grey area. With Hevelius, it isn't.
Harry
14 May 2015 #20
Hevelius was defintiely a citizen.

He certainly chose to live as a subject of the Polish crown and he was born in territory which recognised the king of Poland as the sovereign of that area, even if he didn't have Polish parents and didn't speak Polish as a first language. That is rather different to people who are not born in Poland, don't have Polish parents, don't speak Polish as a first language and refuse to take Polish citizenship (because taking it would mean needing to give up the citizenship they prefer to have). However, I would love to read more about your claim that Hevelius was a Polish citizen, to my knowledge he was a citizen of a Hanseatic city which was loyal to the Polish crown (usually).
DominicB - | 2,701
15 May 2015 #21
Or why there are bathrooms with no window, even on an external wall...

There are also kitchens without Windows (i.e. in those communist blocks)

Those blocks were built purposely with no bathrooms or kitchens. Plumbing is expensive, and workers were supposed to use communal bathrooms and communal cafeterias. A lot of the bathrooms and kitchens you see in blocks were installed later.

About the film dubbing - it refers only to TV, not to cinemas, and this way of translating movies isn't called dubbing :) It's better than dubbing in that you can still hear the original actors.

Which means I can't hear neither the original actors nor the lektor.
Actual dubbing is very expensive. The Germans have developed it to an art form, to the point that it is often more enjoyable than watching in the original language because the voices are supplied by professional voice actors.

currently the final exams (Matura) are deliberately made simple to make Poland look well in statistics.

I have yet to figure out the purpose of the Matura exam, and suspect there is not longer one, and that it's just a vestige of an earlier educational system that has somehow survived despite the fact that it is a very poor indicator of whether the student is prepared to study at university. Had a student that passed the Matura with straight 5's, but was hopelessly prepared to study at university.

Why do shops stock tinned fish in the fridge?

I often wondered that myself, whereas eggs are not.
jon357 63 | 14,280
15 May 2015 #22
Those blocks were built purposely with no bathrooms or kitchens

Have you actually been to Poland? There are no blocks "built purposely with no bathrooms or kitchens", not since the war, anyway. Even in Russia they didn't do that.
DominicB - | 2,701
15 May 2015 #23
I lived there 12 years, and yes, I have been in blocks that were built without private bathrooms and kitchens from the 1970s. In Wrocław, Warsaw, Skierniewice and Chojnice. There were still indeed blocks that still had communal bathrooms twelve years ago, and there are still now plenty of apartments that have the dreaded "anneks kuchenny", a tiny corner of the apartment that has been fitted with a tiny makeshift kitchen counter, or with the amazing 1 square meter toilets and 2 square meter bathrooms, likewise installed after 1990 or more recently.

Oh, I see what you are talking about. When I said "without bathrooms", I meant without bathrooms and toilets in the individual apartments, rather than just communal bathrooms and toilets at the end of the hall. Sorry for the ambiguity.

Actually, Poland wasn't unique in this at all. When I studied in Denmark in the late 1980s, I was quite surprised to see apartment buildings without individual bathrooms or toilets both there and in Sweden. I even lived in one myself when I first got there before I found a better place.
jon357 63 | 14,280
15 May 2015 #24
Nope, they didn't have that in Poland either in the PRL years. Some of the 5 story early 60s blocks just had little kitchenettes, since the day's main meal was supposed to be at work, however that never really caught on and people just use them as normal kitchens. All had their own bathrooms, very occasionally 2.

You can still find shared toilets in nineteenth century buildings that haven't been modernised, however the little known fact in question is that Poles often build flats and even houses with the bathroom on an external wall but no window at all. No shame about a glass panel in the bathroom door though!
OP Polonius3 1,000 | 12,448
15 May 2015 #25
Why all the mystery? If you know of an older constitution in the south of Europe, why not name it. San Marino, Vatican, Macedonia or whatever? Why all the p*ssy-foting?

This isn't about Americans but it was compiled FOR Americans, hence it relates to their familar frame of reference.
jon357 63 | 14,280
15 May 2015 #26
There are actually two, one (like the Polish one defunct) from the Seventeenth Century, from Northern Europe, and one, still in force in a Latin country. Both mentioned on this forum already.

Why all the mystery

Well, apart from me being assimilated Polish and therefore being mysterious by habit now, we are after all talking about little known facts :-)
DominicB - | 2,701
15 May 2015 #27
All had their own bathrooms, very occasionally 2.

Definitely not all of them. Probably not even most of them. Like I said, I have been in several apartments that were retrofitted with in-apartment bathrooms well after construction, with the telltale signs of secondary plumbing installation clearly visible, especially in this block in the middle of Wrocław, where we looked at an apartment when we first moved there:

dolny-slask.org.pl/605652,foto.html

Obviously built as a workers dormitory, it was once a coveted address in Wrocław. I could barely keep myself from puking in the building because of the overpowering smell of cat urine in the stairway. Hard to believe this is only a literal stone's throw from Rondo Postanców Śląskich.

The kitchenettes you speak of were not originally fitted with plumbing as far as I can tell. Nor with refrigerators. There was only a small counterspace with a hotpad. And even then, I don't think the building I mentioned above was even originally fitted with that much. The aneksy I saw were obviously makeshift, and crudely crammed in where they were not intended to be. Now that I think about it, I think they were still not fitted with a water supply or drain.

On the other hand, in Wrocław I lived in an apartment building built for young engineers in the 1970s. Those apartments were fitted with full-sized kitchens and bathroom/toilets with bathtubs. No insulation, though. When I left a year ago, it was still largely fitted with the original inhabitants, as well. At 53, I was one of the younger people in the building.

As for kitchens and bathrooms without windows, I've seen that even in expensive brand-new apartments. My friend bought one in Wrocław. I warned him that the kitchen would be oppressively dark when the building was finished, but he didn't think that was important until he moved in. It was like eating in a tomb.
jon357 63 | 14,280
15 May 2015 #28
Definitely not all of them

All PRL era flats were built with bathrooms and kitchens - the buildings you describe are perhaps not apartments - they sound like hostels for people who live elsewhere. Plenty of places like than even now and some of them post-PRL.

As for kitchens and bathrooms without windows, I've seen that even in expensive brand-new apartments.

Even detached new-build houses. It used to actually be illegal in the UK (under very old planning laws now repealed) but in Poland they think very differently. Frustrating to have no bathroom window.
Harry
15 May 2015 #29
I often wondered that myself, whereas eggs are not.

The eggs thing I can help you with. Eggs in the USA are washed immediately after being laid (soap and lots of hot water), in Poland they are not. Washing eggs is a rather bad idea, it washes away a natural layer which protects the egg; wash the egg and you greatly increase the chances for bacteria to get in. Also, in Poland laying chickens are vaccinated against salmonella, while in the USA they are not, meaning they can and do pass on salmonella. The last reason is that if eggs have been refrigerated at any point after being laid, they need to stay refrigerated (otherwise they'll sweat and most probably get mouldy).

So there you go, wonder no more (mother has kept chickens for decades, pet chickens really).

[edit]Thanks mod!
DominicB - | 2,701
15 May 2015 #30
the buildings you describe are not apartments - they are hostels for people who live elsewhere.

No. Those are something altogether different, and yes, those hostels still exist. There are still several PRL-era ones in Wrocław, as well as more recent ones. The building I described above was built to serve as primary residence for families, and still serves that purpose today. Same with the buildings I described in the other cities.


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