In the town of Szczebrzeszyn in south-eastern Poland there is a beetle making a noise in the reeds, the sort of noise that beetles make; insects of the order Coleoptera, not lovable lads of the order Liverpudlian. There is a poem about this beetle, the poem, “Chrząszcz”, is by a chap called Jan Brzechwa and is well known in Polish speaking circles as being a bit of a tongue twister. Yes, like the Polish language generally isn’t a bit of a tongue twister?
In a week I’m going to Poland to attend a couple of nights of concerts at Łódzki Dom Kultury in the city of Łódź and one of my so-called Polish friends has asked that I recite this poem, she’d like to hear how I cope with the language. Hmmm… Well, I will try not to disappoint although I’m not going to recite the whole thing, just the first few lines or so but even then I will have to cope with words the likes of:
Szczebrzeszynie, brzmi, trzcinie, brzęczy and gąszczu.
Oh, it’ll be fine; I’ll have a plate of pierogi and a beer and it’ll trip off of the tongue.