When I was young I used to ride in the back seat to church at Holy Name of Jesus in Stamford CT. In the car my father and his sisters would switch to Polish when they wanted to talk about “sensitive” topics. This was an effective strategy because the Polish language is incomprehensible. Mass was celebrated in 3 languages, Latin, Polish and English. I wasn’t a big fan of Mass but the hymns and songs in Polish are some of the most beautiful and moving music I have ever heard. Don’t believe me? Listen to Serdeczna Matko, Henryk Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3 or just about any Polish Christmas Carol.
With all the exposure to the Polish language from birth, you would think that via osmosis I would be able to sing along with “Oj Dana”, “Hupaj Siupaj” and “W poniedziałek rano”. I imagine how great it would be to sing along with these tunes cranked on the car’s CD player.
Thankfully the internet has been of some help. I’m awaiting receipt of “Sing Along With Stas” a CD with Lyrics! The most amazing thing to me is that it is impossible to find Polish lyrics for “Hupaj Siupaj”, one of the most recognizable polkas ever.
I think if I can decode the pronunciation of ą ć ę ł ń ó ś ź ż and the digraphs I may have a chance to mimic the singing. Did I mention my weakness in language (flunking Latin)? It won’t be easy, the pronunciation notes for the “ę” sound explain that it is absolutely impossible for a foreigner to comprehend without hearing it… it starts like the English “eh” and ends with a “wwww” sound with a thick French accent. Daunting isn’t it?
Trivia: Part of Gorecki’s Symphony #3 that I mentioned was used (very effectively) in a wonderful film “Fearless” starring Jeff Bridges.