Co za debil!

Discussion in 'Polski (Polish)' started by Encolpius, Apr 10, 2014.

  1. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Prague
    Hungarian
    Hello, why don't you say: Co za debila! :) There must be an accusative after "za" or am I wrong? Czechs say "Co je to za debila", so I am perplexed... :) Thanks. Enc.
     
  2. vianie Senior Member

    Slovak
    Hello, maybe it's just a cross connection of "co to (jest) za debila?" and "jaki debil!". There is more than one of such cross-made "wrong" phrases in the West Slavic languages.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2014
  3. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    Hello Encolpius,

    "za debil" and "za debila" are both grammatically fine. However, they are used in different contexts.


    "Co za debil!" is an exclamtion and you would only use this form in similar cases:
    Co za idiota/idiotka/baran/głupek/człowiek/upał/okaz/itd!

    In this case "za" isn't a preposition. It's originally an adverb (cf. "za dużo"), which here together with "co" makes up the somewhat exclamatory stock phrase "co za" which intensifies the following noun phrase. It's similar in meaning to "ale" or "jaki". "co za" can be additionally reinforeced, for example, by "to": Co to za debil!


    In "za debila", as in "Wyszłam za debila." (I married a moron.), "za" is a preposition and the noun is used in the accusative.


    :idea: Caveat for Polish students: be cautious about "debil"; it is offensive.
     
  4. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Prague
    Hungarian
    Hello Thomas, very interesting explanation indeed. Thank you.
     
  5. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    It may be worth adding that the intensifying expression "co za" can sometimes be followed by noun phrases in the accusative too:
    Co za barana sobie wzięła za męża!
    In this case it's easy to see that it's determined by the verb's government (in an ascending order of intensity):


    1. [*=1]Wzięła sobie barana za męża.
      [*=1]Wzięła sobie za męża barana.
      [*=1]Barana sobie wzięła za męża.
      [*=1]Ale barana sobie wzięła za męża.
      [*=1] Co za barana sobie wzięła za męża.

    I'm not sure I'd use "to" in this case, however.
     
  6. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    "co za" is easily translated to English as "what a", German "was für ein", and French "quel". It is always followed by a noun in nominative, and "za" definitely does not ean here"behind" or" after".
    But i am surprised by the explanation of the use of "za" as an adverb. It does not explain the construction and the relation to "co".
     
  7. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    It isn't in my example. I've come across it used like that in a very colloquial Polish. Your contribution makes me think, however, that this type of usage may not be standard.

    Had that ever been mentioned? :confused:

    I was also surprised a little. Anyway, here's what I found in my dictionary while writing my previous message:
    za
    [...]
    6. w funkcji przysłówka
    [...]
    b) z rzeczownikami tworzy wyrażenia o silnym zabarwieniu uczuciowym
    Co za dzień ciągle leje!
    Co za dureń!
    Co za ludzie (przyszli)?
    Co to za hałasy?
    Słownik języka polskiego PWN © Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN SA


    co
    [...]
    2. ndm,
    pot. zaimek równoważny pod względem funkcji składniowej z innymi zaimkami względnymi lub pytajnymi
    [...]
    c) jaki; jak
    Kapelusz tego koloru, co płaszcz.
    To już nie ten człowiek, co dawniej.
    Co za upał!
    Co z niego za lekarz.
    Słownik języka polskiego PWN © Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN SA
     
  8. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    But we still do not come nearer the deciphering of the origin of the tandem "co za". In th etymologic dictionary by Brückner the word za is listed also as an old question particle "za"and "aza".
     
  9. Geo98 New Member

    EU
    It requires nominative.
    English equivalent would be "What a moron..! , What kind of a moron..."
     
  10. Agiii

    Agiii Senior Member

    Polish
    Encolpius, do you speak German?

    The German equivalent would be the construction was für.

    And it's Was für ein Mensch! (Nominativ), although you generally need Akkusativ after für.

    Was für
    is a whole expression, just like co za in Polish.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2014
  11. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Prague
    Hungarian
    Agiii, you are fantastic! German escaped my notice. Very interesting comment indeed. Now I should ask Germans why nominative. :D
     

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