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


InWroclaw 89 | 1,915
6 Jan 2015 #31
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.

When I was at school, we used to call teachers Miss or sir. But I am advised that in many schools it became just first names after that - I'm not sure that's a good thing in a youngsters' school environment.
pam
6 Jan 2015 #32
But I am advised that in many schools it became just first names after that

I work in a school and none of the staff are addressed by first names, neither are they likely to be.
Paulina 10 | 1,733
6 Jan 2015 #33
The problem with using titles when address in-laws is this:

Smurf and others who have problems with understanding such a basic thing - please understand that here is a different country with a different culture and a different language and some things may work differently than in your country, your culture and your language.

It doesn't mean that your way is good and ours is bad, it's just means it's different.
Learn some tolerance, ffs.

I've read many times on this forum from British/American people how rude Poles are because they don't say "please" when they ask for salt at the table, or the Polish cashiers are rude because they don't grin at you and don't ask you how your day was and don't chat with you while other people are waiting behind you, or Poles are "too abrupt", etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

Well, in Polish language addressing a stranger as "you" is considered rude. It doesn't have anything to do with authority.
In Polish we don't have to say "please" every time we ask for something because in Polish language there are other ways to sound polite like saying "Could you...", for example ("Czy mógłbyś podać mi sól?") or just the tone of your voice. If someone is saying to you: "Kochanie, podaj sól" ("Sweetie, pass the salt") then for a Pole there will be nothing rude in this.

In Poland there is no other way to call your in-laws at the beginning. If the in-laws are very easygoing and just have such character then you won't feel awkward calling them by their names, but it would be rude and awkward to do it without their encouragement, imho.

My brother got married in May this year and up to that point his fiancée was addressing my dad and my mum as "pan" and "pani". It doesn't have anything to do with religion because both my brother and his wife are completely atheistic (although they are decorating their own Christmas tree at their place and are giving presents on Christmas so go figure lol). They're coming to my parents for a dinner every month, my parents are very friendly and the atmosphere at those dinners is very relaxed but it would feel simply akward if she was calling them by their names, since they're much older than she is. The last time I attended such dinner I haven't noticed her calling them anything so it must be stage 2: "Not calling your in-laws anything" lol The stage 3 will be calling them "mum" and "dad", but I think it will take all three of them a while before this happens. I'm sure my parents will be happy when it does happen. Both my grandma and my mum were already happy when my brother's wife said that they were at "grandma's place" after she and my brother went to my grandma at the countryside. So it goes both ways, but it must take some time so it wouldn't feel awkward.

I think I remember my uncle was calling my late grandma by a diminutive of her name but he didn't marry my aunt so I guess he couldn't really call her "mum" (although maybe he did, I don't remember). But he called her "Marysiu" or "Marysieńko" and not "Marysia". And he was not young himself already at that time.

Also, one of my aunts is "forever young at heart" and she demanded that we call her by her name and not "auntie". I've noticed her children are also calling her often by her name (the same with their dad). It's weird for me, I always call my mum "mum" and my dad "dad", but that's me and I would never say that my way is good and my aunt's way is bad.

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.

I don't know where you got it from that in-laws calling you by your name is a sign of disrespect o_O If your in-laws were calling you "pan" or "pani", it would mean they're either really stuck-up or they dislike you a lot... lol It seems to me you don't get it how it works in Poland...

The "titles" are dropped after some time and people are usually calling their in-laws "mum" and "dad". If even after a really long time the in-laws insist on being called "pan", "pani" then it's a sign there's something wrong with your relationship with your in-laws.

If you think that by calling your in-laws "pan" and "pani" they're getting respect and you don't if they're calling you by your name then I'm sorry but you're simply wrong. It's more about getting used to each other and accepting each other as members of the same family. When both parties will be ready then they will get to the stage 3 - calling in-laws "mum" and "dad". That's how it usually works in Poland.

Honestly, smurf, I don't know how you would survive in Japan lol My friend who graduated from Japanese studies said that she wouldn't be able to marry a Japanese guy because, as she said, they bow even when they talk to their bosses through a phone. That's different culture for you. You may not like some aspects of it, but don't expect the autochthons of a given country to change their ways, their culture only because some foreigner doesn't like it.

Of course, we've been raised to use "pan/pani", just like the British have been raised to be overly (in Polish view, for example) polite. You may find "pan/pani" too formal and we may find "you" too familiar. You may find Poles too abrupt, Italians or Greeks - too loud, and we may find the British way of speaking with all those "please" and "would you be so kind" unnecessary, irritating and maybe even servile.

If someone really wants then one can ask in-laws to be called by their name, but I think the general rule when living in a foreign country is "when in Rome, do as the Romans do". If I were living in the UK I would most probably use all those redundant "would you be so kind" etc., because that's, let's say, the British way and I wouldn't like to be impolite.

OK?

I suspect that sadly it's largely true.

Then you're wrong. *sigh*

Seriously, the arrogance and ignorance of some of the Westerners here is bewildering for me. Not everything has to be the way it is in your country! Grow up, people, and learn to accept other cultures. It's not like we're stoning people by calling them "pan/pani" lol
Veles - | 164
6 Jan 2015 #34
Good point, Paulina. :)

In fact, as far as I know, the usage of "pan/pani" comes from times of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and gentry. Members of gentry were using "pan/pani" in accordance to savoir-vivre rules that were present here. The peasantry was simply calling everyone by name, instead of the members of the gentry. Later, due to partitions, and later wars, the differences between gentry and peasantry/bourguise were not visible - in uprisings both classes were fighting, had same problems etc. This usage of "pan/pani" had spread and everyone was calling themselves this way, unless they were friends, colleagues, family members etc.

I am also confused with the arrogance of the "Western world" - it irritates me when someone from the west is surprised and shocked that someone in Poland doesn't speak English. Well, English is not an official language, as there is no reason for it to become, so Poles who live in Poland speak Polish (or regionally Kashubian language, or Silesian dialect of Polish language). Furthermore, I watched some videos about foreigners in Poland and they (at least feminine part) surprised, that Polish men are in a way gentle, as they open the door and let women first. It is also a part of our Polish culture, it is normal, and no... there's nothing tricky. In the past there was also "a rule" of kissing women's hand as a greeting, but it is not practised anymore.
smurf 39 | 1,981
7 Jan 2015 #35
please understand that here is a different country with a different culture and a different language and some things may work differently

That has nothing to do with putting yourself in a position where you, by using just language, put yourself in a position of obedience.

Your points are completely moot and I'm sorry that you wasted so much time articulating a while pile of nothing.
jon357 67 | 16,836
7 Jan 2015 #36
In the past there was also "a rule" of kissing women's hand as a greeting, but it is not practised anymore.

In certain circles this does still happen.
Veles - | 164
7 Jan 2015 #37
Though it's not common anymore. In the past there was no other way to greet a woman.
jon357 67 | 16,836
7 Jan 2015 #38
in the past there was no other way to greet a woman

Generally among social circles who were never a majority within society.

A nice habit though, and I do see it quite often.
Paulina 10 | 1,733
9 Jan 2015 #39
That has nothing to do with putting yourself in a position where you, by using just language, put yourself in a position of obedience.

;D

I've wasted all that time to explain to you that you aren't putting yourself in a position of obedience when addressing your in-laws by "pan/pani". I don't know, maybe you have some kind of chip on your shoulder and that's why you're demonizing a simple social convention.

Although I must say that it's not the first time on this forum when a Westerner interprets something innocent or neutral in a Polish behaviour as wrong, not correct, not the way it should be :)

The thing is, I've lived here all my life and I probably know more about social conventions here and understand nuances of those conventions better than some of the foreigners living here. And that's why I can explain things to you. Of course, if you don't want to learn and prefer to live with your prejudices then that's your choice...

And, again, what would you do in Japan? You wrote that "putting yourself in a position where you, by using just language, put yourself in a position of obedience" has nothing to do with being in a different country with a different culture and a different language. What do you mean by that? Bowing in Japan has everything to do with it being a different country, a different culture. It goes as far as being expressed in a physical action of bowing. It seems everything is wrong with Poles but I've never seen a Westerner telling the Japanese off for their culture of bowing. After all, why would they, it's such a cool culture and Japanese people are so polite and when Westerners go to Japan they bow like mad and take their shoes off eagerly, etc. right?

Well, read this: japaneseruleof7/how-to-bow-like-a-japanese

Japan has the reputation of being a polite nation. That's because, for tourists, everywhere they look, Japanese folks are welcoming, thanking, and bowing to them. What wonderful, simple people! They're so cute. In reality, it's about business. It's not that Japanese people are more or less polite than anyone else. It's that they're serious employees.
(...)
So take a step back. Next time you go to a store, a restaurant, or a bar in Japan, don't watch the clerks and waiters. Watch the Japanese customers. Quite often, they're a whole lot less than polite. They either boss the staff around, or ignore them entirely. They certainly don't bow to the staff.

Now, you can act however you like in Japan. Bow to the mailman if that's your thing. Thanks for bringing my electric bill, dude! Hey, it's a free country. But if you've gone to the trouble of learning some Japanese and trying to understand the culture, then you might want to pay attention to what everybody else does, and try to behave similarly. Just a thought.

It has everything to do with Japan being a different country with different culture, customs, social conventions.

Your points are completely moot

Are they? :) Where are your counterarguments then?

pile of nothing.

If you see a "pile of nothing" there, then you're blind (unfortunately).
Puolatar 1 | 7
26 Feb 2015 #40
Smurf and others who have problems with understanding such a basic thing - please understand that here is a different country with a different culture and a different language and some things may work differently than in your country, your culture and your language.

High five! You are absolutely right! :)
Dreamergirl 4 | 276
30 Aug 2016 #41
My boyfriends parents have invited me and him to go stay with them for 2 weeks at Christmas. I'm a bit worried because he says it's ok for me and him to share the same bed at his parents house? I didn't think this was accepted in Poland although he is older than me. Any ideas?
984562
31 Aug 2016 #42
Not every family is as conservative as you think. If they are they will put you in separate beds, is there a problem? It's only 2 short weeks ;) LOL
Dreamergirl 4 | 276
31 Aug 2016 #43
It's no problem but I'm just shocked that they let us share a bed. I suppose because I'm pregnant already that could be why. But it will be the first time I meet them so I'm a bit embarrassed
984562
31 Aug 2016 #44
Seems like they have already accepted you and your baby as part of the family. Don't be embarrassed, be prepared to feel the pressure to formalize your relationship unless you already have plans to do so, certain things stay constant.
Dreamergirl 4 | 276
31 Aug 2016 #45
I feel a bit bad that I'm already pregnant before I met them but they seem really nice people when I see them on Skype. Although neither them or my bf speak English. I thought they would be more strict being in Poland. I wouldn't mind seperate beds it would give me some rest lol but I don't think my other half would enjoy it
984562
31 Aug 2016 #46
Why? It's a part of life, nothing to feel bad about, seems to me that's understood by both your future in-laws as well as your bf. Be yourself and enjoy your stay, make the most of this opportunity.
Dreamergirl 4 | 276
31 Aug 2016 #47
U don't think that they will be angry on how young am I? He's 12 years older than me. Will that make them angry?
984562
31 Aug 2016 #48
No, ask yourself what's more important the age difference or the family. No one's judging otherwise you would already feel that vibe from your skype conversations.
Dreamergirl 4 | 276
31 Aug 2016 #49
No they seem very friendly with me at least. My other half gets told off a lot I think

Why are they nice to me and then in polish seem to tell him off?


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