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May 20, 2024

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Did You Know?

Ideas for term papers, trivia games or just to pique your curiosity
Did you know – Have you heard ?
Compiled By Robert Strybel, Polish/Polonian Affairs Writer

Poland by any other name: The word Poland is widely believed to have been derived from the Polanie, the West Slavic tribe that became the nucleus of the Polish nation. It come from the Polish word “pole” (field), as the Polanie were largely field-dwellers. In other Slavic tongues it is Polsko (Czech and Slovak), Pòlskô (Kashubian), Poljska (Croatian and Slovenian) Польша/Pol’sha (Russian) and Польща/Pol’shcha (Ukrainian). Polonia is the term for Poland in the Romance language (the French spell it Pologne) and Polen in German and the Scandinavian tongues.

NATO –  talks, fly-past, tanks and pea soup: Held in July 2016 in Warsaw, the biggest NATO summit ever pledged to beef up the alliance’s eastern flank to deter potential Russian aggression. It included an aerial parade of 30 jet fighters zooming over the city and leaving trails of white and red smoke. Military hardware such as tanks and rocket launchers were displayed at NATO Picnics around the country, where people could also sample Poland’s iconic “żołnierska grochówka”, stick-to-the-ribs pea soup.

Poland sixth in population and area: With 38 million inhabitants and 120,726 sq. miles of area, Poland is the 5th most populous and the 6th largest of the European Union’s 27 member nations. Poland is the 34th most populous and 69th largest country in the world,

Europe’s largest brick church: The Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Baltic Port of Gdańsk is Europe’s largest brick church. Built in the Gothic style over a 142-year period (1346-1506), the structure dominates the Gdańsk cityscape.  The imposing edifice measures 105.5 (364 feet) meters in length and is 66 meters (217  feet) wide at the transept. Popularly referred to as the Bazylika Mariacka (Marian Basilica), it can accommodate a congregation of some 20,000 worshipers.

Polish – a language rich in variety: Polish is a language rich in variant forms and easy to coin new words and expressions in. One example: in English we all know the patronymic surnames Adams and Adamson. But their Polish equivalents include: Adamiak, Adamik, Adamiuk, Adamczak, Adamczuk, Adamczyk, Adamek, Adamski, Adamowski, Adamkowski, Adamkowicz, Adamkiewicz, Adasiak, Adasiewicz, Adaszewski, Adeszko and probably a few more – all originally meaning “Adam’s son”.

World’s best-known Poles: Outside of Poland the best-known Poles (not necessarily in this order) include include astronomer Mikołaj Kopernik (Copernicus), Pope John Paul II (now a Catholic saint), composer and piano virtuoso, Fryderyk Chopin, Nobel-Prize-winning scientist Madam Curie (Maria Skłodowska-Curie), Solidarity leader Lech Wałęsa and the heroes of two continents Tadeusz Kościuszko. What could you tell a non-Polish fellow-American about them?

Short king, tall queen: The Hungarian princess Jadwiga Andegaweńska (now St Hedwig), who became Queen of Poland in 1384 and married Polish King Władysław Jagiełło in 1386, was extremely tall. Her skeletal remains showed her to measure 180 centimeters (six feet) which was quite unusual in those times. No exact figures have survived for her husband but chronicles state that he was of slight height (“mizernego wzrostu”).

More…. next week – watch for it on the Post Eagle website!