You may have heard of the Polish gentleman who was beaten to death last week by a group of teens in Harlow in England. It is said that they attacked him after hearing him speaking Polish on the phone. I don’t know if they attacked and killed him because he was speaking Polish or because he was not speaking English. We are most certain it was because he was foreign.
I haven’t been physically attacked in Poland because I am foreign, or because I was speaking English on the street, or because I wasn’t speaking Polish. Nothing like that has happened to me…yet. I have been attacked because I was alone on the street, because I am a woman, because I was smaller, because I was weaker. That’s not exclusive to Poland, I must say.
The Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs has gone to the UK to discuss the matter with UK officials.
I haven’t been beaten on the street for being foreign, but others have. It’s not an everyday thing here in Poland, being beaten on the street. It’s rare actually. I don’t think it’s an everyday thing in Harlow either, but that man is dead just the same. I think those kids should have to learn Polish as part of their punishment. They’re sure to have plenty of time to do it while incarcerated. Then they should have to face that man’s family and apologize to them in Polish.
I haven’t been beaten on the street, but I have been shouted at.
“Mów po polsku ty głupia krowo!” he shouted in my face. (Speak Polish you stupid cow!)
“Mów po jakimś normalnym języku!” he screamed as his spittle hit me in the eye. (Speak some normal language!)
“Odwal się! Wystarczy po polsku?” I reply. (Piss off! Is that enough in Polish?)
“Brawo! Pani umie. Brawo!” he says as he claps his hands in applause. (Bravo! You can do it. Bravo!)
So I went from you stupid cow using the informal you (ty) to the formal Ma’am (Pani). From spitting in my face, to applause all in one short conversation.
But that’s just some weird guy on the street right? Normal people don’t think like that.
“Jesteśmy w Polsce. Mówimy po polsku!” she reprimanded us. (We are in Poland. We speak Polish!)
True. People in Poland speak Polish. My family speaks Polish. But we speak English too, and I will not let anyone shame me or my children when we speak English to each other.
Oh, the above statement came from the Principal of our children’s school. I was so happy to point out to her that they taught the kids the wrong words in the Polish national anthem. Kiedy, my dear, not póki. We are in Poland. We speak Polish.