Big Fat Dictionary of the Latest Polish Language, A

Bartek Chaciński
Big Fat Dictionary of the Latest Polish Language, A
  • Znak
    Kraków 2003
    144 x 206
    180 pp
    ISBN 83-240-0369-X

How do the Poles speak nowadays? Bartek Chaciński has been considering this question since May 2002, when at the request of the editors of Poland’s biggest daily newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza, he started writing a column in its weekly supplement on the latest neologisms to have appeared in the Polish language. He analyses his subject from the viewpoint of a tracker of changes, a fan of new words, and sometimes a creator of linguistic curiosities too. In his dictionary he shows that neologisms are not the product of barbarians who have attacked us from God knows where, but just the continuation of cultural evolution, with roots that reach down into Warsaw street slang, for example. Now his extremely popular columns have appeared in book form. Naturally, you can read it like an ordinary dictionary, putting it on the shelf and only reaching for it to check something. But you can also read it through from A to Z, not so much like an ordinary dictionary, but instead as an account of modern, big-city, Polish popular culture, already pervaded by the Internet, blogging, clubbing, hip-hop and so on. To some people this whole concept, taken out of context, might seem awful and hard to accept, because it has few references to so-called high-brow culture and little concern for tradition. “However,” writes Chaciński, “I suggest you look at it from a different angle – as evidence of linguistic inventiveness and spontaneity, and above all as proof of the incredible power of informal language.”

Bartek Chaciński (born 1974) is a journalist and translator, and writes or has written for most of the leading Polish pop culture magazines, from Świat komiksu [“Comic World”] and Nowa Fantastyka [“New Fantasy”] to City Magazine and Przekrój.