"Co to za dźwięk?"

Translation:What is this sound?

December 31, 2015

This discussion is locked.


What does 'za' means here? Why is it needed?


"Co to za" is a whole expression where you are askking about the source of sensation (sound, smell). Without "za" this question would translate as "What is a sound?" – as if you've never known a word "sound".


Nice, I like the literal translation: "What is behind that smell, noise, etc.?"


Funny thing is that the literal translation of "to" is never "is". It's not even a verb.

EDIT: I'm also not sure about translating "za" as "behind", since the case doesn't match (and I don't perceive these two meaning close, even if the word is the same).


I guess even if it doesn't actually mean 'behind' in this context it will still help me remember :)


Some English speakers say "what is behind that...?" to mean what is the cause...I wonder if this turn of phrase is typically Irish?


Wouldn't a better translation be "What kind of sound is this?"


I don't think so. I can think of two cases when you use phrase "Co to za dźwięk?": 1. when you suddenly hear something strange or perhaps you are frightened by a sound or noise. 2. when you play guessing game. I am not native English speaker, but I don't think you would use expression "What kind of sound is this?" in any of above cases.


I think it would be "Jaki dźwięk to jest?", but I'm not 100% sure.


Someone could say that, but "Jaki to jest dźwięk?" seems more natural.


You are right, unless one wants to make a Yoda impression, one would say "Jaki to jest dźwięk?". However in casual talk one would typically skip verb 'jest' and say "Jaki to dźwięk?". In quiz or teaching context it is almost guaranteed that verb is skipped, f.ex "Jaka to nuta?", "Jaki to kraj?", "Jaka to litera?" etc.


Could you not say 'Co jest ten/tamten dźwięk?', or does that not make sense?


No, it does not.


Everything could be so easy... ;-)


... if only Polish were more like Spanish...


That's correct. Other examples: Co to za smak? = what flavor is it? (about food) Co to za książka? = what book is that? Co to za kobieta? = who is that woman? but Co za kobieta! = What a woman! ( doesn't need to be about woman. It's just a common example ) There is also similar expression: Ale kobieta! Means basically the same, but doesn't use "za".


Yes, it's a rare construction used in phrases like "What was that X?!", "What a great X that was!" and similar.

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In English I think we are more likely to ask what is that sound'. Would that still beCo to za dżwięk' in Polish?


This could also be translated as what is THAT sound...which makes two instances of "to" meaning both "this" and "that" I've seen so far.

The other being "to jest pytanie" from Hamlet, but I've been informed "oto" works better even though it is not taught, kind of a shame.


Correct. 'To' does not indicate a distance from the source of the sound. 'Oto' and 'to' have different functions even though the meaning may seem the same. 'Oto' is never used in questions, but exclusively for presentation of a subject. This is a bit archaic form too. Not in a daily use really, unless one wants to achieve specific stylistic effect (typically when joking)


I wouldn't say that it's archaic, just not very common. And it doesn't need to be in a joking context. It's basically used to introduce new information.

You can point at yourself in a picture that has several people in it and say: Oto ja! - Here, that's me!

Or, when showing something to someone you can say: Oto, co chciałem ci pokazać. - So, that's what I wanted to show you.

But it absolutely doesn't work in this sentence, you are right about that.



Ok. Perhaps it's not archaic, but getting there in my opinion. I didn't say it has to be used in joking context, but only that it is the most typical use in colloquial speech. Anyway. We could discuss these details til the kingdom come. My point is: one rarely use word 'oto' in colloquial speech nowadays. And, for not a native speaker who is still learning Polish it's better to use word 'to', just to avoid sounding like he or she learned polish from Shakespeare.


Just small addition. I looked into the link you posted. There are 5 examples.

The first example "Czekałeś na mnie? Oto jestem!" could be heard in daily talk, however nowadays it is more likely to hear ""Czekałeś na mnie? No to jestem!"

The second one "Oto co myślę – to jest kompletna bzdura!" - Could be said in some cases. I am picturing politician who wants to sound smart during a TV debate or elderly person trying not to loose her nerves. Young person would sound formal when speaking like this.

The remaining examples sound like they have been taken directly from a newsreel made in 70-ties. Especially the example 2.2. I bet it is from a newsreel ;)


Would 'Jaki to dźwięk 'be ok ?


Actually yes, although that feels quite different to me.

I'd ask "Co to za dźwięk?" if I heard some strange noise and had no clue what it is. But "Jaki to dźwięk?" sounds to me like a question in a game show, after the host played some weird sound to the contestants and they have to guess what it was.

Still, it's already an accepted answer.


In general "Co to za dźwięk?" has bit wider use. It includes all the cases when you can use "Jaki to dźwięk?", plus the strange noise case (or something along these lines) which Jellei has written about. These are nuances though :)


what sound is this - is it possible translation?


Yes, we accept it.

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