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woda na młyn in English

Discussion in 'Polski (Polish)' started by guniang, Jan 9, 2012.

  1. guniang Senior Member

    Dear all,
    The sentence is as follows:
    'Obecny kryzys Unii Europejskiej to woda na młyn dla populistycznej i ksenofobicznej kandydatki skrajnej prawicy'

    How to translate 'woda na młyn'?

    Any suggestions are welcome.

    Thank you in advance
     
  2. jazyk Senior Member

    Brno, Česká republika
    Brazílie, portugalština
    The current crisis of the European Union provides ammunition for the populistic and xenophobic (female) extreme-right candidate?
     
  3. dreamlike

    dreamlike Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    How hiliarious that is.. we're in the middle of the crisis and it's right-wing politicians and the political axe they have to grind on it who are under the spotlight, not people at the helm of the European Union we owe crisis to... hiliarious or disturbing, can't decide between the two...

    As regards the phrase in question, I suggest using grist to the somebody's mill

    Your sentence would be: The current crisis of the European Union is all grist to the mill of the populistic and xenophobic far-right female candidate.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2012
  4. I too would use 'grist to the mill.'

    P.S. There is no crisis. It's just an excuse to fcuk people over even more. ;)
     
  5. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    What does woda na mlyn mean in Polish?
     
  6. dreamlike

    dreamlike Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    Skandale są wodą na młyn dla brukowców = Scandals are all grist to the mill of the tabloid newspapers.

    If something is "wodą na młyn", someone lust after this thing because it's useful or advantageous for them.
     
  7. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    Could you provide other examples with this idiom. Where does it come from? It comes as a surprise to me.
     
  8. Zamach na polityka PiS-u jest wodą na młyn dla przeciwników powszechnego dostępu do broni palnej.

    To znaczy, że przeciwnicy powszechnego dostępu do broni palnej wykorzystają ten zamach do swojej propagandy, mówiąc na przykład, że to dowód na to, iż broń palna jest zła i gdyby wszyscy ludzie mieli dostęp do broni to w przeciągu tygodnia wszyscy by się wybili. :)
     
  9. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    Cos podobnego jak na byka czewona plachta?
     
  10. dreamlike

    dreamlike Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    To nie to samo znaczenie.
     
  11. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    A jakie, jako sam idiom?
     
  12. dreamlike

    dreamlike Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    I can't think of any other idiom which has the same or similar meaning. Maybe someone will lend you a hand, though. Perhaps this will clear things up for you:

     
  13. Liliana, let me put it more clearly for you. :) If a non-native speaker of Polish states authoritatively that something in Polish sounds stupid (while it doesn't ;) ), it makes me react somehow, often harshly. Now, if this non-native speaker of Polish keeps stating that something sounds stupid in Polish, it is wodą na młyn to me. By doing that, he or she causes me to do my thing. Do you get it now? :)
     
  14. dreamlike

    dreamlike Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    That's one hell of explanation :D
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2012
  15. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    Thank you. I did not say anything sounded stupid, unless you are talking about somebody else. I am just not familiar with this idiom.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2012
  16. No sweat. :)

    Buck up, Liliana. Where did I say you said it? :)
     
  17. guniang Senior Member

    Dear Liliana,
    I don't know if I'm going to explain it well, but 'woda na młyn' means that something what someone is saying/ doing suits you well because it somehow confirms your opinion/ this what you are saying and makes you argue with greater intensity. You make use of his words/ action, even if he doesn't want to support your views.
     
  18. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    Just like someone is preying on somebody's feelings or actions, because it suits them; these actions are the food for their own agendas, even if they do not believe in the ideas they express?
     
  19. guniang Senior Member

    I can't agree with the part 'even if they do not believe in the ideas they express', maybe I don't understand well what you mean, 'preying on somebody's feelings or actions' seems to me a very good definition.
     
  20. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    Thank you, Guniang, this must be a new idiom, right? I only know, dolewac oliwy do ognia, dzialac jak na byka czerwona plachta, z idiomow podobnych. To be food for somebody's agendas I think, this would be the meaning.
     
  21. guniang Senior Member

    In fact, it's an idiom well established from a long time.

    Good luck with discovering the richness of Polish idioms :)
     
  22. marco_2 Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    From Polish-Lithuanian dictionary: coś jest wodą na czyjś młyn; to jest jak woda na czyjś młyn - ká nórs yrá kám nórs ramstis, whatever it means.
     
  23. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    Thank you. it does not make sense to me in any language. I just do not understand the concept or the image and how the two are connected. It does not make sense to me in Lithuanian either, it is a totally different image in Lithuanian. I have never heard it. It has nothing to do with a mill and water. I think I understand it more or less in English, water over the mill. It might have roots in another language.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2012
  24. dreamlike

    dreamlike Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    It is typical for idioms/fixed expressions that they make sense only when taken as a whole :) That's the case with "woda na czyjś młyn"
     
  25. Lorenc Junior Member

    Italian
    May I can intrude here... there's a similar saying in Italian which is tirare/portare acqua al proprio mulino, which literary means `to draw water to one's own mill'; it means to look after one's own interest, possibly to the detriment of someone else's. This is the image it depicts: a watermill works better when it is powered by a stronger stream of water, even though this may have an ill effect on people's mills. It seems to me that the Polish proverb in question (previously unknown to me) describes the same situation.

    p.s.
    The word młyn is, according to the etymological dictionary by Bruckner, an early loanword from latin and hence cognate to Italian mulino (English mill also has the same late-latin origin).
     
  26. I daresay the Italian idiom isn't similar to the English/Polish one to the extent that would help Liliana grasp its meaning.

    I agree with dreamlike that most idioms are not to be understood by their individual constituents.
     
  27. dreamlike

    dreamlike Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    I think that the two phrases are similar, but only to a certain degree. They have two things in common -- the first thing is that words of which they are made are the same, and the second is that they both imply benefit of a person they're used in reference to. The Polish phrase, however, does not necessarily mean that one benefits from something he or she did at the expense of other people. The other difference is that in the case of Polish phrase, it is the actions of other people that one avails of rather than his own, deliberate actions.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2012
  28. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    NB. The English expression has nothing to do with water: grist is corn that's put into the mill for grinding:)
    NB². British speakers and American speakers tend to disagree whether it should be to the mill or for the mill:rolleyes:
    grist for one's mill
    Grist to the Mill
     
  29. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    Thank you Ewie. I speak quite a few languages and sometimes I am not sure which proverb comes from where. Do you think the English expression means something like to provide ammunition to your enemy or adversary?
     
  30. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    Yes, that's a pretty good alternative, Lil:thumbsup:
     
  31. marco_2 Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    Yes, and I can add that this idiom exists in other languages, look at these headlines:

    - Russian: Резкий снос ларьков - вода на мельницу сетевых магазинов.
    - Bulgarian: Cъдът в Страсбург наля вода в мелница на ислямисти.

    Соmpare also German: Wasser auf jds Mühle liefern.
     
  32. bibax Senior Member

    Czech
    Czech: voda na mlýn (Řecká krise je vodou na mlýn euroskeptikům);
    Slovak: voda na mlyn (Kahnova sex aféra vodou na mlyn antisemitom);

    Exactly the same meaning like in Polish.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2012
  33. kknd Senior Member

    Polska / Poland
    polski / Polish
    isn't this idiom too popular in european languages? should we look into latin or only slavic languages for it's source?… (source of water, of course… :p)
     
  34. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    Another Polish idiom, quite similar in meaning to the one in question, is ‘coś jest komuś na rękę’.
    I can see how the idiom got the figurative meaning. Many mills used to be located by a river, which was its natural source of energy/power. Thanks to the water flowing through the blades of a wheel submerged in it, the whole mechanism of the mill could be propelled. In the idiom, someone’s words or actions are the 'energy/power propelling' someone else’s cause. Have a look here for more examples. This idiom is known in many European languages (cf. the French 'apporter/etc. de l'eau au moulin de quelqu'un'; also have a look here.). I am wondering if it didn't come from Latin or Greek originally.

    The Italian idiom has got a different meaning, as has been already said, but it comes from the same source and we have its equivalent too: ciągnąć/pędzić/lać/wodzić wodę na swój młyn. Sometimes abbreviated to 'na swój młyn'. Cf. Każdy (młynarz) na swój młyn wodę ciągnie. ‘ciągnąć wodę na swój młyn’ is less frequent these days in Polish (See here for samples.)
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2012
  35. dreamlike

    dreamlike Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    That sounds like a fair summary, Thomas. I think you exhausted the topic. I'd like to make one more point, however. "Coś jest wodą na czyjś młyn" and "Coś jest komuś na rękę" are indeed strikingly similar, but rarely can they be used interchangeably. Also, the latter does not imply that we were provided with "ammunition", as Lilliana called it, by our opponents. And one more thing, "Coś jest komuś na rękę" lends itself more readily to being used in usual (for lack of a better word) contexts:

    - To spotkajmy się około 15:00.
    - Mi to na rękę (mi to odpowiada, it suits me).
     
  36. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    Well, to me they can be used interchangeably very often. However, ‘coś jest komuś na rękę’ is an expression with broader meaning. ‘coś jest wodą na czyjś młyn’ is mainly used when you evaluate something negatively. So, in the example from PWN I gave:
    Brytyjski premier Baldwin już 9 marca wypowiedział się o „trójstronnym układzie przyjaźni między Wielką Brytanią, Francją i Niemcami”, co było wodą na młyn Hitlera.
    I wouldn’t cringe at ‘coś jest na rękę komuś’:
    Brytyjski premier Baldwin już 9 marca wypowiedział się o „trójstronnym układzie przyjaźni między Wielką Brytanią, Francją i Niemcami”, co było na rękę Hitlerowi.
    Here you can also see quite often ‘tylko’ or ‘bardzo’ used to reinforce the expression. I would feel the same about the sentence in the original post if it were equipped with it as well as the sentences on Google wiadomości.
    At the moment, I can’t think of a context in which I couldn’t use ‘coś jest na rękę komuś’ in a sentence which contains ‘coś jest wodą na czyjś młyn’ (but I’m not saying there aren’t any and would be happy if someone provided one).

    I wouldn’t change ‘coś jest wodą na czyjś młyn’ in the example provided by you, Dreamlike. That’s not the realm of this expression. With it, the whole would be out of kertel.

    I also think that there is some difference in the register between the two expressions. ‘coś jest wodą na czyjś młyn’ sounds more formal and to my experience is mainly used in written Polish whereas ‘coś jest komuś na rękę’ is rather neutral or a triffle informal and is used in speech as well as in writing.
     
  37. dreamlike

    dreamlike Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    Well, it might prove difficult to asses the frequency of instances in which both "coś jest wodą na czyjś młyn" and "coś jest komuś na rękę" are correct, but I'd lean towards rare frequency. Anyway, it's just splitting hairs now.
     

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