Thursday, April 30, 2009

Polish Prose

To further my study of Polish, I took an independent study, the materials of which was "Opowiesci Mojej Zony", or "Tales Told by My Wife." It's a collection of short stories (most are around six pages or so) and is meant to be used as a reader for intermediate to advanced students (trust me, I am on the low side of that spectrum.) The stories are quite interesting and very sweet. There is, however, something quite infuriating. Many of the sentences of these stories are many lines long (think half a paragraph easily.) One starts out talking about a father in the hospital, shifts to talking about that he'll come home with a lot of good things, and ends with a short discussion about the Russian and Austrian soldiers that are sometimes quartered in their house. A range of topics indeed.
James Joyce is known for his rambling on, his multitude of adjectives stacked upon each other; Ernest Hemingway knew how to work a sentence for building pace and tension; but these lines in these are simply run-on sentences. It's the Polish language and its plethora of cases that allow this to happen. I've seen it cross over from Polish into English. While correcting translations for Al, I was always irked by how the sentences never seemed to come to an end, as if she loved the thought so much that she couldn't bear to add a period, instead she'd tack on another clause (without a semi-colon!)

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