It’s the Big Day. The opening matching of the Euro 2012 football championship in Warsaw will see the home team slugging it out with Greece. Whatever the outcome, today, I feel…call me gushy and mushy…proud of Poland.
Plenty of insults it has endured in the years long prep to get the grounds ready for men in shorts to shoot (but usually, miss) goals. Jibes were fired at PL, doubting that it could get the stadiums ready in time. Complaint galore, too, about the major roads not being able to handle the increased traffic. And there’s gripes aplenty over the construction of the second subway line blocking up major arteries in the capital. The organizers ploughed on, and today, we have show time.
And just prior to show time, the lime light fell on nation’s command of the English language. Several official slogans have fallen prey to screwed-up translations. Before hauling the evidence before you, I must say hats off to the effort Poles make to speak English to foreigners. They don’t pull the indignant French act. They are apologetic if a facility lacks bi-lingual info. Not only do they master the silly idioms, they also fuss over the correct accent. Yet, they condone us for not speaking their language, excusing us by saying, “Polish is a difficult language”. So while the execution of the slogans is wonky, the spirit behind it gets top marks.
Exhibit A is “Feel Like At Home”. It’s blown up and plastered on to the central station. The phrase was supposedly checked and verified as sound by native speakers, so said the officials. The Prime Minister went on air to jest about the flaw, and stressed that it basically means the whole nation are hosts to the visitors.
Exhibit B: “Fun welcomes Fans”. If Australia did that, they would have got away with it as a cheeky word play. But that’s not the privilege of non-native speakers of QEII’s tongue. What bothers me more is that chap with the tilted head. He looks somewhat spooky, don’t you think? Unless you had toured a bit of the city, you wouldn’t have known that’s Chopin as seen in Warsaw’s Łazienki Park. It’s an attempt to use meaningful icons but the banner ends up reeking of trying too hard. Who’s the chick with the trumpet? That’s Syrenka, the symbol of Warsaw.
On the opposite side of the same tower, they got it right with a simple message.
Warsaw welcomes you.