Polish Vocabulary Sheet 1- Entomology

In England the majority of conversations are, naturally, about the weather. The Poles, having more predictable weather – almost uniformly snowless – need another topic of conversation. Being foreign (and therefore more than half mad) they can perhaps be forgiven for having made the eccentric, and to us incomprehensible, choice of insects. First-time travellers to Poland will find that a few minutes spent before departure in mastering the words for the commoner insects will be amply repaid on arrival. How satisfying to be able effortlessly to charm ones hosts with amiable pleasantries about grasshoppers, silkworms, maggots and wasps! It is considered the epitome of politeness, when being shown ones room, to comment favourably on the small number of bedbugs. You may even be rewarded for your courtesy by being moved to a better room, though this is no longer standard practice. Important note: in refined Polish society, it would be unforgivable to utter the word for “flea” without a simultaneous leap into the air. If you are uncertain whether the company you are keeping is refined, it is best to be on the safe side.

The pedantic reader should know that we are aware that not all the items on this list are, strictly speaking, insects; he (or indeed she) should however beware of pointing this out to a Polish Highlander, who is likely to have strong views on the matter.

English Polish glow-worm robaczek świętojański
insect owad gnat komar
ant mrówka grasshopper konik polny
bedbug pluskwa hornet szerszeń
bee pszczoła ladybird biedronka
beetle chrząszcz, źuk larva, maggot larwa
black beetle karaluch locust szarańcza
bumblebee bąk louse wesz
butterfly motyl midge muszka
caterpillar gąsienica mosquito moskit
clothes moth mól moth ćma
Colorado beetle stonka ziemnaczana silkworm jedwabnik
cricket swierszcz spider pająk
dragonfly waźka spider's web pajęczyna
flea pchła wasp osa
fly mucha woodworm kornik

Note on pronunciation: Some of these words are hard to say, especially the first one for "beetle", and the one for "flea" - that's "ch" as in "loch", and the "l" with a slash through it sounds like our "w". Go for it! Above all, make sure you get "bumblebee" right. It's pronounced "bonk", and nothing else will do.

Coming soon: Sheet 2 – sunbathing, and Sheet 3 – wódka.

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© Bob Newman 2005. All rights reserved.

This page last updated 22/03/2005