Healtcare in Poland
The Body (Ciało), Being Ill and Being Healthy
Naturally there’s loads of vocabulary to learn when it comes to learning the parts of the body in Polish, but it’s worth the effort because it’s common language that pops up all the time, from use in simple descriptions and general conversation, to more important situations, like communicating ailments with healthcare workers.
A lot of the Polish people I know who have studied English, had to endure at least one version of a classic nursery rhyme in lessons, and more often than not it was our beloved ‘Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ that popped up when it came to learning the vocabulary of the body. I suppose the repetition helped to sufficiently ram the words home; so why don’t we start here too and then get onto the harder stuff?
‘Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ ( Głowa, ramiona, kolana, pięty)
Everyone loves to dig out the children’s songs, so here we go. Let’s take this line by line for an excuse to repeat, and remember, once you’ve sung it through once, you have to start again at double speed!
Głowa, ramiona, kolana, pięty, (Heads, shoulders, knees and heels [toes])
kolana, pięty, kolana, pięty, (Knees, heels [toes], knees, heels [toes])
Głowa, ramiona, kolana, pięty (Heads, shoulders, knees and heels [toes])
Oczy, uszy, usta, nos! (Eyes, ears, mouth and nose)
(The Polish word for toes is palce u stop, so you can see why in the Polish version, this is changed to pięty (which means ‘heels’) for euphony).
After that suitably light hearted introduction, let’s look at some other vocabulary for the body in Polish, and take a look at how we can say you’re not feeling well, or – even better – if you’re feeling great.
Na Twarzy (On the face)
Let’s start at the top again, hair down: Włosy (Hair), czoło (Hair), brwi (eyebrows), policzki (cheeks), podbródek (chin), dziurki w nosie (nostrils), zęby (teeth), buzia (mouth, usta which we say in the song ).
Tors (Upper body)
From the neck down; Szyja (neck), bark (shoulder), klatka piersiowa is 'chest' but simply piersiowa will do, brzuch (stomach), talia (waist line), plecy (back), ramię (arm), and dłoń is hand.
Dolne Partie Ciała (Lower body)
The Polish word for 'leg' is noga (nogi is the plural 'legs'), kolano is 'knee', and stopa is 'foot'.
'Jestem Chory': Saying you are ill in Polish
The Polish word for 'sick' or 'ill' is Chory and you can use it with the verb 'to be' to indicate that you or someone else is not feeling very well, by saying jestem chory (I am ill), or jesteś chory (You are ill). Both of these examples can be used as questions as well - jestem chory? (am I ill?) - and other subjects can be addressed by using the other verb endings of the verb 'to be' (-eś, -cie, -emy, etc).
You can also use a whole range of adjectives that indicate something about your body in just the same way. For example, 'jestem zmęnczona' (I am tired) or ' jestem głodna' (I am hungry).
'Jestem zdrowy/a': Saying you are healthy in Polish
This is what most of us want to be saying, Jestem zdrowa means ‘I am healthy’, but you can also usually let people know by your glowing tan or perhaps by letting them know, ‘Chodze na silownie’ (I go to the gym!).