Russian and Polish, both Slavic languages, share a lot of vocabulary and they are indeed pretty similar, althought they are not really mutually intelligible. There are some words that are particularly tricky, however. Here is a funny list of my favourite Russian-Polish puzzles:

  • чашка — czaszka: in Russian a чашка is where your drink your tea from; if you used the same word in Polish you would be drinking from a skull

czaszka

  • сутки — sutki: the Russian word means “day”, the Polish equivalent “nipples”
  • позор — pozór: pozór means appereance, but if you use the same word in Russian, your appereance would be a disgrace
  • диван — dywan: in Russia you seat on a диван (sofa), in Poland you keep your dywan on the floor (carpet)
  • вонь — woń: in Poland, your parfume can have a nice fragrance (woń), in Russia your parfume would have a bad stench (вонь)
  • дворец — dworzec: in Poland a dworzec is where trains arrive and depart from. If you used the same word in Russian, your train would take you to a palace (sometimes this might be the case, like in Wroclaw, for example)

Dworzec_Kolejowy_Wroclaw_Glowny_1

  • Овощи — Owoce: once I presented to a Russian friend some owocowa herbata (“fruit tea”) I bought in Poland; she thought it was “vegetable tea”
  • кресло — krzeslo: in Russia you would be sitting comfortably in an armchair, in Poland it would be a plain, comfort-free chair
  • штука — sztuka: in Russia it is just a piece of plain, shapeless matter, in Poland that would be a piece of art!

And finally my (and I guess everyone’s) favourite:

  • урод — uroda: in Poland, women go to the salon urody if they want to look good, but never, never say to a Russian girl that she is full of uroda (pl. beauty), she might want to slap you (you just called her an ugly monster)!
IMGP2714-21-5-2
This is what they looked like before the uroda treatment

If you know some more funny Polish-Russian false friends or other funny false friends from other language couples, you can contact us here.

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