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suze
104638.  Fri Oct 20, 2006 9:10 am Reply with quote

One of the two countries which is gracious enough to allow me to belong to it, even though neither my father nor my grandfather was born a Pole. (My father's first nationality was American, although he later became Canadian and very much later Polish. My grandfather was born a Prussian, later became a citizen of Danzig/Gdańsk and after that an American.)

Poland has changed its borders and temporarily ceased to exist more times than one can shake a stick at, but all that stuff is in the history books.

Between 1569 and 1795, Poland and Lithuania were joined as one in what was termed Rzeczpospolita Obojga Narodów (Republic of Both Nations); this so-called republic actually comprised a kingdom and a grand duchy and proclaimed that "our state is a republic under the presidency of the King of Poland". The state also included what are now Belarus, most of Ukraine, and parts of Russia.

It was the first state in Europe to adopt a written constution - the Konstytucja Trzeciego Maja - just 3˝ years after the nascent USA became the first in the world so to do.

Poland's largest minority community is probably Ukrainian - they have come to Poland to do all the jobs that no-one wants, replacing the large number of Poles who have come to Britain to do the same for higher wages. (I say probably because it is difficult to say how many people in Poland are ethnically German - most of those who stayed after WWII adopted Polish names.)

Although there are very few non-white people in Poland (and unfortunately, many Poles are still somewhat unreconstructed in their attitude to people of colour), there have been Muslims in Poland since the 14th century. These people are of Tatar origin, and originally came to Poland as mercenaries. Only a few thousand remain, most of them living in Białystok, but the mosques they built can still be seen.

Polish twaróg (curd cheese) has a lot to answer for. The stuff spread from Poland to Germany, where its name was Germanised to Quark. As it was considered an inferior sort of thing, Quark came into use in German as a word for "nonsense" - which seems to have been the inspiration for James Joyce's use of the word and hence its adoption into physics.

Finally just now, liquor. Wodka, as I prefer to spell it, probably originated in Poland (the Russians inevitably dispute this) and the Polish brands actually taste of something. While the most popular beers in Poland are lagers much like those you would find in Germany, look out for a remarkable beverage called Żywiec Porter. This brain damage strength stuff (9.3% ABV) is not unlike Nigerian Guinness, and even grizzled manual working Poles balk at drinking it with a chaser.

 
Tas
104651.  Fri Oct 20, 2006 9:20 am Reply with quote

Quote:
While the most popular beers in Poland are lagers much like those you would find in Germany, look out for a remarkable beverage called Żywiec Porter. This brain damage strength stuff (9.3% ABV) is not unlike Nigerian Guinness, and even grizzled manual working Poles balk at drinking it with a chaser.


Kind of a Polish special brew, then?

:-)

Tas

 
dr.bob
104678.  Fri Oct 20, 2006 10:40 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Polish twaróg (curd cheese) has a lot to answer for. The stuff spread from Poland to Germany, where its name was Germanised to Quark. As it was considered an inferior sort of thing, Quark came into use in German as a word for "nonsense" - which seems to have been the inspiration for James Joyce's use of the word and hence its adoption into physics.


So sub-atomic particles are ultimately named after curd cheese?

Fantastic! That's a groovy thing to learn on a Friday afternoon :)

Must try and slip that into conversation next time I'm discussing particle physics.

 
samivel
104682.  Fri Oct 20, 2006 10:53 am Reply with quote

If I'd any chance of discussing particle physics, I would do the same thing. Sadly, I'm fik - I only just know what particle physics is.

 
Jenny
104735.  Fri Oct 20, 2006 1:20 pm Reply with quote

Personally, I rather like to think of the universe as being made of a substance not unlike soft cheese, the hitherto undiscovered 'dark matter' (the cheese having been around for awhile and therefore gone off).

 
Gray
105487.  Mon Oct 23, 2006 5:11 am Reply with quote

Time for another link to Google Moon. Make sure you zoom RIGHT in...

 
WordLover
117694.  Sat Nov 18, 2006 6:46 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
The stuff spread from Poland to Germany, where its name was Germanised to Quark. As it was considered an inferior sort of thing, Quark came into use in German as a word for "nonsense" - which seems to have been the inspiration for James Joyce's use of the word and hence its adoption into physics.
That's an interesting theory. I don't see the connection, though; only a coincidence that Joyce's word happens to be spelt the same way as the German one.

See [3] for the Joyce quote; not just the line "Three quarks for Muster Mark!" but the whole poem of which that is the first line.

"Quarks" there looks to me merely as an internal rhyme for Mark, which would fit in with all the other rhymes there. As for the idea that Joyce took a German word for "nonsense" and used it in the plural... I'm not convinced, myself.

Here's Murray Gell-Mann, the man who coined the name "quark" for the subatomic particle, in [2]:
Murray Gell-Mann wrote:
In 1963, when I assigned the name "quark" to the fundamental constituents of the nucleon, I had the sound first, without the spelling, which could have been "kwork." Then, in one of my occasional perusals of Finnegans Wake, by James Joyce, I came across the word "quark" in the phrase "Three quarks for Muster Mark." Since "quark" (meaning, for one thing, the cry of a gull) was clearly intended to rhyme with "Mark," as well as "bark" and other such words, I had to find an excuse to pronounce it as "kwork." But the book represents the dreams of a publican named Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker. Words in the text are typically drawn from several sources at once, like the "portmanteau words" in Through the Looking Glass. From time to time, phrases occur in the book that are partially determined by calls for drinks at the bar. I argued, therefore, that perhaps one of the multiple sources of the cry "Three quarks for Muster Mark" might be "Three quarts for Mister Mark," in which case the pronunciation "kwork" would not be totally unjustified. In any case, the number three fitted perfectly the way quarks occur in nature.


s:
[1] James Joyce, Finnegans Wake
[2] Murray Gell-Mann, The Quark and the Jaguar, W.H. Freeman, New York, 1994, pp 180-181, cited by http://www.xs4all.nl/~jcdverha/scijokes/10.html
[3] http://www.phantazm.net/science/penguins_in_modern_physics/science.htm

 
jamesy227
556420.  Mon May 18, 2009 3:20 pm Reply with quote

I'm off to krakow for a long weekend in the beginning of July and after some local knowledge.

The main purpose of the trip is to visit Auschwitz and doing some research online the salt mines look well worth a visit as well.

Will also be looking to try some of the aforementioned beers and wodkas.

Any other tips on things to do or try when we are there.

thanks

 
Sadurian Mike
556425.  Mon May 18, 2009 3:23 pm Reply with quote

Hit the delis if the Polish shops in Swindon are anything to go by!

 
suze
556481.  Mon May 18, 2009 4:30 pm Reply with quote

jamesy, one of the High Wranglers once asked me about Kraków, so I may as well paste here what I said back then:

"I've only spent a few hours of my life in Kraków - it's down south, and as such people from Gdańsk think of it in the same sort of way as ... well, as people from Bolton think of Tunbridge Wells. (My reason for being there was also that it was on the way to Auschwitz. Don't go to Auschwitz if you happen to be in a bad mood that day, and don't listen to Leonard Cohen or Coldplay beforehand.)

The city itself is interesting though - it has an ancient university, tends to be left wing, and in general has a bit of a Bohemian feel to it. Just wander around and see what there is to see, I guess.

The main tourist destination in the immediate Kraków area is probably the Wieliczka salt mine about ten miles out of town (easy enough by public transportation, or I'd be pretty sure that hotels put on group trips just as they do for Auschwitz). It's a World Heritage Site no less, although it ceased to be a working salt mine a couple years back.

English and German are both pretty widely spoken, so just keep nie mówię po polsku (I don't speak Polish) in the back of your mind. Be aware that Polish people don't always take much notice of signs which say zakaz palenia (no smoking) - it's not a country for people who really don't want to be anywhere near smokers."

 
Sadurian Mike
556497.  Mon May 18, 2009 4:46 pm Reply with quote

I have heard that visiting Auschwitz can be a physically unsettling experience as well as emotionally (as in, people report chills and whispers on the air). I'd be interested in how you find it, jamesy, as I am unlikely to get the opportunity to experience it for myself.

 
suze
556506.  Mon May 18, 2009 4:53 pm Reply with quote

I'd pretty much agree with what you've heard, Mike. I'm glad I went, but I wouldn't go again.

 
CB27
556732.  Tue May 19, 2009 6:45 am Reply with quote

I wuoldn't recommend a trip to Auschwitz to everyone, it can be very unsettling, but at the same time I've also met people who came away "disappointed" because they couldn't make the conncetion between the physical remnants and the stories and images they've heard/seen.

If you're going to travel round the south of Poland, I'd recommend going to Zamosc as it's quite an interesting place (especially if you like looking at architecture like me).

 
samivel
556998.  Tue May 19, 2009 11:53 am Reply with quote

I didn't even know you were architecture.

 
jamesy227
557021.  Tue May 19, 2009 12:34 pm Reply with quote

Thanks for the tips everyone and I will feedback on how I get on at Auschwitz.

Going with 3 other friends and we each have a general interest in history and all felt it was something we wanted to go and do, especially if as a recent article suggested some of the buildings are starting to collapse.

My parents went to Krakow a few years ago but didn't go to Auschwitz. They were born during WWII and my mum couldn't really explain why she just said she didn't feel it was for her.

Will have a look into Zamosc - thanks CB

 

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