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Addressing your Polish in-laws or boy/girlfriend's parents?


bug080 2 | 12
3 Jan 2015 #1
I am curious how Polish people address their in-laws or parents of their boy/girlfriend. Is it by the first name, or Pan/Pani+first name or something else? In my culture, people address their in-laws by "dad/mom", which I find a bit ridiculous.
wojtus - | 9
3 Jan 2015 #2
You'll be disappointed, but It's traditional in Poland to call them mom/dad (mama/tata) too. But only after the marriage.
pigsy 7 | 305
4 Jan 2015 #3
. But only after the marriage.

What about before marriage when you are boyfriend/girlfriend?
Szenk88HTAFC 2 | 47
4 Jan 2015 #4
I still called them mum and dad, even before marriage.
Veles - | 164
4 Jan 2015 #5
At your place I would call them Pan/Pani.
smurf 39 | 1,981
4 Jan 2015 #6
Call them by their first names, if they don't like it then in all likelihood they're probably *****.
smurf 39 | 1,981
4 Jan 2015 #8
Do, they won't use Pan when they address you so you shouldn't use such formal BS with them.
Vincent 9 | 852 Moderator
4 Jan 2015 #9
There's no harm in younger people showing respect to their elders.
wojtus - | 9
4 Jan 2015 #10
@smurf:
Original question was about polish common tradition. I don't think your enlightened ideas will help him get accepted by his future in-laws. It's always better to start formally and be sooner or later asked for informal way of addressing.

@bug080:
You should still use Pan/Pani to them. That's to show respect to people older than you. If you're relatively young (up to twenties), they may choose to address you by name, but it does not mean you can do the same (until they ask for it). If you're older, they should use Pan/Pani when talking to you as well.
smurf 39 | 1,981
4 Jan 2015 #11
accepted by his future in-laws

That's a dumb outlook to have. Why the fuq does he need to acceptance of future in-laws?
As long as his partner loves him that's all that matters. Come on, everyone hates their in-laws in Poland.

There's no harm in younger people showing respect to their elders.

Showing respect doesn't mean that you should be forced to use forced formalities.
Pay compliments, open doors for people, offer to help in the kitchen etc, that shows respect, using Pan/Pani just illustrates that you're a lemming.
Vincent 9 | 852 Moderator
4 Jan 2015 #12
Showing respect doesn't mean that you should be forced to use forced formalities.

Don't think anyone is forced, always thought it was part of Polish culture to show respect to elders, by addressing them correctly.
terri 1 | 1,665
4 Jan 2015 #13
In olden days, elders were addressed as 'plural you' (WY-in Polish). This is still used in small towns and villages.
You should NEVER call someone by their first name unless they have given you permission to do so.
Veles - | 164
4 Jan 2015 #14
This is still used in small towns and villages.

Never seen it. Never heard it. And I live in a village. It was used in the past, however.
OP bug080 2 | 12
4 Jan 2015 #15
Thanks for the replies everyone. I am a girl by the way. And yes I am quite young and they address me by my first name. I have good relationship with both of them but was a bit wary of addressing them with first name, so haven't so far. I shall try using Pan/Pani in the future, but they know me quite well so it might be too formal, I don't know :D
Veles - | 164
4 Jan 2015 #16
It is normal that they use your first name - you are a girlfriend of their son. If they would like you to use their names, they will suggest you that. If they don't, keep it that way. Even thought it's formal, it's normal.
OP bug080 2 | 12
4 Jan 2015 #17
So what is the better form, pan/pani + last name or pan/pani+first name?
Veles - | 164
4 Jan 2015 #18
Mostly, you don't need to use last name nor first name. For example "What do you think?", you may ask "co pan sądzi?". There is no name.
OP bug080 2 | 12
4 Jan 2015 #19
Wow, I didn't know that, I already use the Ty form like "Co Ty myslisz?" (since the beginning when I had very less knowledge of Polish). My boyfriend always told me it's absolutely fine to call them that way. But I have never directly addressed them, if I have to talk to them, I sort of just look at them and talk and hence no need of calling them out by name or something else.
jon357 63 | 15,569
4 Jan 2015 #20
Don't think anyone is forced, always thought it was part of Polish culture to show respect to elders, by addressing them correctly.

You should certainly start off that way. They may suggest first names themselves - in any case it would be polite to give them the choice.

A lot would depend on how old they are, how traditional or not they are, what sort of people they are - but best to start off formal and relax afterwards.
Veles - | 164
4 Jan 2015 #21
Wow, I didn't know that, I already use the Ty form like "Co Ty myslisz?" (since the beginning when I had very less knowledge of Polish). My boyfriend always told me it's absolutely fine to call them that way. But I have never directly addressed them, if I have to talk to them, I sort of just look at them and talk and hence no need of calling them out by name or something else.

To be honest, as they are aware that you are not Polish, they will not have problems. Just keep everything the way you do now. And if your boyfriend told you it's fine, then it is fine :) Don't worry about this.
wojtus - | 9
4 Jan 2015 #22
So what is the better form, pan/pani + last name or pan/pani+first name?

As said above, you should use "Pan/pani" alone (just think of it as a equivalent of "sir").
It's common and universal way to talk to anyone (except children) - useful as you may not know the name of person.

Using Pan/Pani+last name is the most formal way possible. It's used only in offices, business contacts and similar situations.
mafketis 24 | 8,857
4 Jan 2015 #23
By all means ignore smurf.

Call them Pan and Pani (Państwo when adressing both at the same time) if they prefer a more informal mode of adress they will propose it themselves (as is their perogative).

A lot has changed in Poland but the older person still has the choice of how younger people adress them. Pan and Pani cannot possibly offend them and when they feel closer to you they'll tell you to switch to ty/wy.
Wulkan - | 3,251
4 Jan 2015 #24
By all means ignore smurf.

Yep, he doesn't even speak Polish so why is he getting involved in such a discussion is absolutely beyond me.

bug080, Address him "pan" and her "pani" unless they invite you to call them by their names.
pigsy 7 | 305
5 Jan 2015 #25
Come on, everyone hates their in-laws in Poland.

Nonsense,I dont.
notancientyet
5 Jan 2015 #26
well I never called my Polish Mother in Law anything, but my bro in law would address her as pani of course. an now we are not ancient or outdated.
Roger5 1 | 1,458
5 Jan 2015 #27
At first you stick to formal terms of address, i.e. pan(i) plus name. After you've been in the family for a while they'll let you know if they're ready for a change. In my case my m-in-l and I have known each other for so long, and have shared so many good and bad times, that it would be strange if I didn't call her mamo.
smurf 39 | 1,981
6 Jan 2015 #28
I felt like

*hugs

The problem with using titles when address in-laws is this:
Once you use a title when addressing another person you are putting them in a position of authority over you. You give them a title and they are immediately in a higher position in societal terms.

People here say it's a respect thing. Well, the problem there is that you've been raised to think in that blinkered kind of way. A bit like Sharia Muslim women who honestly think that covering their whole bodies is a good thing.

It's obviously not.
The same goes for using titles.
Respect is a two-way street and once you use titles and they aren't reciprocated then you're never going to get the respect you deserve and never be on the same level playing field as the person you're addressing.
InWroclaw 89 | 1,915
6 Jan 2015 #29
The problem with using titles when address in-laws is this:

Interesting post, and I suspect that sadly it's largely true.
pam
6 Jan 2015 #30
Once you use a title when addressing another person you are putting them in a position of authority over you. You give them a title and they are immediately in a higher position in societal terms.

I can see what you're saying as it's how in the UK we would address teachers etc, but unless someone has the in-laws from hell, I'm guessing that it wouldn't take that long after first addressing them as Pan/Pani, for them to want to be called by first names. If they don't, then how they are addressed is likely to be the least problem someone will have.

People here say it's a respect thing. Well, the problem there is that you've been raised to think in that blinkered kind of way.

Is it so hard to address someone as Pan/Pani? What do you say to someone if you go into a shop and ask the assistant if they have something? It's considered rude to use 'ty'. It's hardly the end of the world is it?

Respect is a two-way street and once you use titles and they aren't reciprocated then you're never going to get the respect you deserve and never be on the same level playing field as the person you're addressing.

Agreed, it is. If it isn't reciprocated after some time, I would suspect that possibly you are not their favourite person.


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