Disco-polo and a Polish transcription of Mandarin

In one of the most important Polish newspapers, Gazeta Wyborcza, I encountered an article about the introduction of disco-polo to the Chinese music market. In case you don’t know what disco-polo is (and I’m pretty sure you don’t, unless you are from Poland), check out this Wikipedia entry. Basically, it’s a music genre that had its golden age in the ’90s and that some Poles adore, but for others it’s a synonym for bad taste, kitsch and “redneckedness” (most of the bands originated from small villages where they played at weddings etc.).

I have absolutely no idea why someone would try to sell this kind of music in China. And while in Poland it is (or, hopefully, used to be) popular mostly in rural areas and among less-educated people, the Chinese target is “between 25 and 40 years old, higher education, big city resident, high professional and social position, incomes much higher than average”. At least that’s what the producer says.

In autumn a disco-polo band BayerFull (in Polish bajer is a slang word meaning gimmick or sweet talk) is going on a tour in China. Its leader says “We’re entering the Chinese market professionally. Everything is arranged legally. We’ve had our Chinese costumes tailored, our dragons are ready. Our image is going to get people interested. But we’re not deceiving ourselves, we know we’re going to be treated as an oddity.”

And finally comes the language part:

For a month I’ve been cramming the lyrics in Chinese. Slower pieces like Wszyscy Polacy (All the Poles) or Wiatr miłości (Wind of love) go easily. Problems appear when it comes to those livelier ones like Majteczki w kropeczki (Dotted panties). By the way, we had to rename it to Red panties in the Chinese version.”

Check out this transcription (it’s Majteczki w kropeczki):


In the online edition of the newspaper it looks like this:

“Wo liu sui desh~hou ,
daole shangxué de niánl~ng.
Xiao Ma lái ka lái xiang wo gaobié skuo:
Ni yao l~kai wo ya,
weishénme hui zheyang?”.

Obviously, these are just encoding problems.

You can listen to the song in Polish with the chorus in what is supposed to be Chinese here.

Of course, I saved the best for last.

Below is an amateur “phonetic transcription from which BayerFull learns the lyrics”. The title of this song was originally Wszyscy Polacy to jedna rodzinaAll the Poles are one family, but in the Chinese version it’s Polak i Chińczyk to jedna rodzinaA Pole and a Chinese are one family.

The task is to decipher this “phonetic transcription”. Try to transcribe it into hanzi or pinyin and translate into English, if you like. If it turns out too difficult, I can translate the Polish lyrics into English to help you :)

(I don’t know if you can see the character ł clearly, it looks almost like l, these are the words in which it appears: Czungłożen, toł, siałohaj, tiaułu, hłansiau, czenszłej, cułomeng. You’ll have to learn something about Polish phonology to solve this problem.)

12 responses to “Disco-polo and a Polish transcription of Mandarin”

  1. John B says:

    Oh, this isn’t so bad… once I figured out the z with a circle above it is the pinyin ‘r,’ almost everything just fell into place (I left × marks where I’m not sure). Here we go:

    波兰人中国人都是一家人 | 嘿嘿来跳舞吧
    老人与小孩男人与女人 | 嘿嘿×××吧
    波兰人中国人都是一家人 | 嘿嘿来跳舞吧
    老人与小孩男人与女人 | 嘿嘿×××吧

    在这里在这里×人们都在×× | 波兰人中国人都是一家人
    在这里在这里大家都开心做梦 | 老人与小孩男人与女人
    波兰人中国人都是一家人 | 嘿嘿来跳舞吧
    老人与小孩男人与女人 | 嘿嘿×××吧

  2. 嘿嘿喜欢笑吧 ? (But that would mean the word breaks in the Polish pinyin are wrong.)

    czenszłej = zhenshui ?

    Not sure at all about that “d”.

    But at 1:40am I’m not sure what I’m sure of.

  3. Paweł says:

    John B: There’s just one thing you got wrong: 在这里在这里; Polish “j” is not the same sound as English “j”.

    Randy: 喜欢笑 is right.
    I’m not sure about that “d” either. What about “党人”? :)(though it doesn’t fit the Polish lyrics).
    Czenszłej is not zhenshui. The transcription is inconsequent.

  4. Are you sure it’s not reverse polish?

    what about 參加 for czenszłej?

    and how about dan being either 當 or 讓 .

  5. Paweł says:

    I think 參加 would be candzia. Randy’s guess was closer. :)
    Neither 當 nor 讓 seems right.

  6. John B says:

    Paweł, that’s right, dang it, I already knew that from the 老人与小孩男人与女人 bit…

    Maybe 在夜里, then? That could work, I suppose.

    What about 大人们 for danzenmen? Not sure why it would be ‘dan’ and not just ‘da,’ but it would fit with the 都 that follows, and this seems like the sort of song that words like 大人们 might be used in. :)

  7. John B says:

    Oh oh oh! If it is 在夜里, then could czenszłej be 沉睡? That would fit with the dreaming line afterward.

    Seriously, this is the most fun I’ve ever had with romanization. 😀

  8. in light of recent discoveries, why can’t dan be 但?

  9. Brendan says:

    My guess (building on the strong work done by John B and Randy above) is that it’s 在夜里当人们都在沉睡. Very stirring lyrics.

  10. pott says:

    My guess for ci hłansiau is 齐欢笑. 喜欢笑 would be sihłan siau.

  11. Paweł says:

    John B: Both 在夜里 and 沉睡 are correct.

    Brendan: I think 在夜里当人们都在沉睡 is plausible (I’m not completely sure, though).
    The lyrics are stirrig indeed :) The original version is written in really bad, ungrammatical Polish and it doesn’t make much sense. This Chinese translation is only 1/4 of the whole song.

    pott: You’re right. xi=si and qi=ci, sorry for my mistake.

    So it looks like everything is clear now :)

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