walić kulą (w płot)

anthox

Senior Member
English - Northeast US
Cześć wszystkim,

I often have trouble when I come across the word "kula" because it can mean a ball, or a sphere, or a bullet/projectile, so I have to rely on context to understand the meaning.

I was reading a poem by Julian Tuwim which contains the line "O, madame, kulą wal!" I understand it grammatically, but I'm not sure of the meaning. Literally something like, "Pound/strike/hammer in (with) the bullet"? Is it a way of saying something like, "Fire the gun"?

While trying to figure this out, I googled the phrase "walić kulą" to see examples.

In this one: "Dzielna rencistka słysząc krzyki dochodzące z góry, wspięła się po schodach i zaczęła walić kulą w drzwi, zza których wydobywały się niepokojące odgłosy," it seems like the phrase means "pound on the door (with one's fist)," a meaning I didn't know "kula" could have.

But I also found several hundred results containing the phrase "walić kulą w płot" which appears to be figurative, for example: "Bo kurs jest nieprzewidywalny i nawet prognozy ekspertów potrafią walić kulą w płot." I think the literal meaning is something like "pound (fist? bullet?) into a fence", and I guess it means something like "take a wild guess"?

So, to clarify, I would like to ask you Poles what comes to mind when you see "wal/walić kulą" and if I am correct in my deductions about what the phrases mean in the above contexts.

Bardzo dziękuję.


Edit: Clearer formatting.
 
  • jasio

    Senior Member
    I often have trouble when I come across the word "kula" because it can mean a ball, or a sphere, or a bullet/projectile, so I have to rely on context to understand the meaning.
    There's also another meaning: a crutch. And I wouldn't bet if the list is already complete.
    But you're not alone with your problem. We also have to figure out the meaning of the word from the context, we only have somewhat more experience. :-D

    In this one: "Dzielna rencistka słysząc krzyki dochodzące z góry, wspięła się po schodach i zaczęła walić kulą w drzwi, zza których wydobywały się niepokojące odgłosy," it seems like the phrase means "pound on the door (with one's fist)," a meaning I didn't know "kula" could have.
    She actually pounded on the door with her crutch as this way it hurts less, while the sound is much louder.

    But I also found several hundred results containing the phrase "walić kulą w płot" which appears to be figurative, for example: "Bo kurs jest nieprzewidywalny i nawet prognozy ekspertów potrafią walić kulą w płot." I think the literal meaning is something like "pound (fist? bullet?) into a fence", and I guess it means something like "take a wild guess"?
    This phrase is more typically expressed as 'trafić (jak) kulą w płot'. It's actually an idiom meaning 'to be completely wrong', 'to miss by far', 'to miscalculate'. Probably it's related to a firearms training: if you miss a target your bullet will hit whatever is aside it - a bullet catcher of some sort, a brick wall, or anything like that, including a (solid) fence.

    I was reading a poem by Julian Tuwim which contains the line "O, madame, kulą wal!" I understand it grammatically, but I'm not sure of the meaning. Literally something like, "Pound/strike/hammer in (with) the bullet"? Is it a way of saying something like, "Fire the gun"?
    First, I've found information that attribution of this poem to Tuwim is not quite correct.
    Secondly, it's a sort of a phonetic joke - if read aloud it may sound as if it were spoken in French. Or perhaps the other way round: it may be written pretty precisely using a French ortography:
    O, cotrain, je m’emboulle,
    taquilosse, comme ou jalle,
    o, cotrain, palisoule,
    om, madame, coulon valle!
    Il est trosque, il est bouge,
    à ma créve, qui pis vrai.
    O madame, o, tonouche,
    o madame, o tomb rain!
    Anyway, some of the lines are absurdous or they do not link one with another so discussing a specific meaning of the phrase in question may be somewhat pointless.

    Oko trę, że mam ból - kto jest autorem tego wiersza?
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Cześć wszystkim,
    I often have trouble when I come across the word "kula" because it can mean a ball, or a sphere, or a bullet/projectile, so I have to rely on context to understand the meaning.
    This trouble occurs also with a huge number of English words. I'm pretty familiar with eight languages and English is the most ambiguous of them.
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    There's also another meaning: a crutch. And I wouldn't bet if the list is already complete.
    But you're not alone with your problem. We also have to figure out the meaning of the word from the context, we only have somewhat more experience. :-D


    She actually pounded on the door with her crutch as this way it hurts less, while the sound is much louder.


    This phrase is more typically expressed as 'trafić (jak) kulą w płot'. It's actually an idiom meaning 'to be completely wrong', 'to miss by far', 'to miscalculate'. Probably it's related to a firearms training: if you miss a target your bullet will hit whatever is aside it - a bullet catcher of some sort, a brick wall, or anything like that, including a (solid) fence.


    First, I've found information that attribution of this poem to Tuwim is not quite correct.
    Secondly, it's a sort of a phonetic joke - if read aloud it may sound as if it were spoken in French. Or perhaps the other way round: it may be written pretty precisely using a French ortography:


    Anyway, some of the lines are absurdous or they do not link one with another so discussing a specific meaning of the phrase in question may be somewhat pointless.

    Oko trę, że mam ból - kto jest autorem tego wiersza?
    Or a much simple example of phonetic humour: "Dupont train au trottoir"
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    if the pronunciation is not even close, it's a pour joke.
    Besides: dupont - tłumaczenie słowa – słownik francusko-polski Ling.pl
    If we are to nitpick, then a joke can be poor, but not pour. Besides, I have known what Du Pont means in many decades. And, there are no rules about such language joke: what is more important, a correct use of the imitated language (French), or a phonetical correctness of the imitating language (Polish).
     

    anthox

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    This trouble occurs also with a huge number of English words. I'm pretty familiar with eight languages and English is the most ambiguous of them.
    I am not surprised. I often feel that everyday English is lacking in certain ways, compared to Polish which feels more precise. I'm curious to know if you would say Polish is less ambiguous than the other languages you're familiar with, or is there one that you find most satisfyingly precise/specific?
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I am not surprised. I often feel that everyday English is lacking in certain ways, compared to Polish which feels more precise. I'm curious to know if you would say Polish is less ambiguous than the other languages you're familiar with, or is there one that you find most satisfyingly precise/specific?
    When I wrote my post I thought first of all about German and French compared to English. The two first mentioned languages produce often new words in an analytic way, composing them of existing words, which gives a self explaining term. In English there is a greater tendency to be brief and either give an existing word a new meaning. The result is that English words have often tens of unrelated meanings. Only Chinese beats English in this respect. For example: to translate the English word "construction" to Norwegian one has to choose one of six different words to convey the correct meaning. Often the context does not help to choose the right one, but it helps to check a French or German version of the document to find the exact meaning.
    Polish, and other Slavic languages differ from English in using verbs that have very specific meaning and in addition indicating the aspect of the verb (perfective or imperfective). The Romance languages share the same feature to a certain extent. The Slavic languages share also the tendency of analytic coinage of new terms.
     

    jasio

    Senior Member
    In English there is a greater tendency to be brief and either give an existing word a new meaning. The result is that English words have often tens of unrelated meanings. Only Chinese beats English in this respect. For example: to translate the English word "construction" to Norwegian one has to choose one of six different words to convey the correct meaning. Often the context does not help to choose the right one,
    True, especially in a marketing parlance, when a specific word is chosen from a range of possible alternatives not only because of it's intended "dictionary" meaning, but also because of the emotions conveyed by other meanings of this same word or related words. Translating such things is a nightmare unless you may consult an expert to deeply understand what all the text is about.
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    True, especially in a marketing parlance, when a specific word is chosen from a range of possible alternatives not only because of it's intended "dictionary" meaning, but also because of the emotions conveyed by other meanings of this same word or related words. Translating such things is a nightmare unless you may consult an expert to deeply understand what all the text is about.
    A good example of vague English words is "gun" that can mean both a 6 mm pistol and a 890 mm canon.
     
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