When you, through carelessness or sheer bad luck, meet a Pole, you need to consider carefully what you are going to say. Poles are basically harmless when treated properly, but amateurishly initiated conversation may lead to a Pole become upset and verbally abusive, or even worse - become your friend forever condemning you to be on guard when talking to them.
Here’s a short list of things you should never say to a Polish person.
Poland? It must be terribly cold there. Either it must or it mustn’t - it does not really matter. What matters is that Poles, being confronted with this statement for centuries, evolved surprisingly wide range of responses: from downloading tons of meteorological data to prove you’re wrong, to bluntly pointing out that being from Boston, or Cleveland, or North Dakota you hardly have right to a moral high ground when it comes to frigid climate.
What language do they speak in Poland? Polish claim they speak Polish in Poland and strangely believe that this fact should be a common knowledge. This is a claim that cannot be verified since no American has ever been known to learn Polish. Or any other language for that matter. Taking Spanish or French in high school doesn’t count.
I am sorry, I’ve never been to Berlin. It’s best not to admit one’s lack of worldliness, besides most Poles fail to see a connection. The best response you can get to such statement is that Kennedy has been there and nothing good came out of it.
Are you a Russian-Polish or a German-Polish? People in Europe lived there for a really long time and in most cases they are still German-German, French-French and Polish-Polish. The borders moved more that any sane person could accept. That’s why all sane Europeans moved to United States 200 years ago. And then they proceeded to expel those who could not learn the language. Expelled group founded Great Britain. Or something like that.
I admire your accent! It’s safer to admire their shoes or hairstyle. Accent - differently from shoes or hair - is probably something they are trying to get rid of.
Is it true that marijuana is legal in Amsterdam? Poland and Holland are 2 different countries. Which of course you know, but it’s hard to remember when you are concentrating on understanding someone speaking with a heavy accent. And marijuana is legal in Massachusetts as well, so get over it.
I used to have a girlfriend/boyfriend, who had a Polish aunt/uncle once. That’s actually not your worst option. It hints that there is some connection and does not obligate you to know anything about Poland. But it might turn against you if a Pole gets upset that you dumped the girlfriend/boyfriend with a Polish connection.
If you cannot think of any other way of opening a conversation,you’d be well advised to avoid Polish persons entirely. They are prickly, impulsive, have unjustifiably high opinion about themselves and obscure sense of humor.