ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Only Polish Spoken

Updated on September 18, 2009

 Last summer (2009), I participated in the Universal Congress of Esperanto in Bialystok, Poland.

Now I read a short article about a strange incident at the web site of the Polish radio, at

What happened was that two Italian participants of the congress went to the railway station and wanted to buy tickets to Vienna.

One of them asked if he could have a student discount.

He didn't ask in Esperanto, suspecting that the cashier might not understand that noble language, in spite of the fact that its initiator - LL Zamenhof - was born in Bialystok.

Neither in Italian, for the same reason.

He used the most common Esperanto substitute of our times - English.

Not a very good substitute, admittedly; but better than nothing.

The cashier refused to answer.

A lady present wanted to help the Italians.

The cashier was not amused. She shouted:


Whereupon she called over some security guards and proceded to sell the tickets.

Without giving any discount.

The lady present, mentioned above, was, in her turn, not amused.

She happened to be a journalist from one of the leading Polish newspapers, Gazeta Wyborcza, so an article about the matter appeared there later.

As I said, I was there myself, participating in the congress, but I didn't have any similar problems.

Although in my case, there would have been some logics in the madness.

You see, I'm Swedish, and Swedes have been quite nasty in Poland. Same as Germans, Russians and, to a certain degree, Turks.

Some centuries ago, and I'm not quite old enough to be personally guilty; but still...

But as far as I know, Italians have not attacked Poland.

As a matter of fact, the Polish national anthem was written in Italy.

The original version of the text was written in Reggio nell'Emilia in 1797 by Józef Wybicki, and the original title was Pieśń Legionów Polskich we Włoszech - "Song of the Polish Legions in Italy". It contains the lines Marsz, marsz, Dąbrowski/z ziemi włoskiej do Polski - "March, march, Dąbrowski, from Italian soil to Poland!".

Another ironic detail is the fact that Bialystok, today so extremely Polish, was at Zamenhofs time not very Polish at all. The mother-tongue of at least sixty percent of the inhabitants was Yiddish, and the administrative language was Russian. In the administration of Czarist Russia, it didn't even belong to the Russian part of divided Poland, but to Belarus.

The Italian roots of Polish nationalism was something I learned about at a lecture during the congress. You may learn some interesting things during Esperanto congresses.

But nationalists/patriots/chauvinists (pick your synonym) are not always very knowledgeable about history.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)