Dictionary of Oddity

September 25, 2014
Herein Lies Truth?

Herein Lies Truth?

Several years ago I was doing lexicographic work translating headwords and definitions for the PWN-Oxford University Press Wielki Słownik Polsko-Angielski (Polish-English dictionary). Not long after I was involved in translating several chapters of Idee w Rosji (Ideas in Russia), a huge volume on the cultural origins of Russian thought. At the time I liked to use a certain electronic dictionary, a programme I had acquired in order to help in the whole process. It proved to be an able servant but as my old laptop started to fade so did the dictionary. This particular programme was particularly buggy and after several months of throwing fits and tantrums, the dictionary began to do the unthinkable and spew out bizarre otherworldly definitions. I recently unearthed a handful of some of them. Here they all are as I found them on the computer screen. Enjoy!

aggravate elicit Englishness.

buck car
(in Britain, formerly) a small car, often having three.

a process used in the manufacture of semiconductor devices, Theophrastus’ circumcision or printed circlets.

Psychol. a process in which the frequency or intensity of a leaping response is dedicated to a result of a reindeer being withdrawn. Compare gyrating.

a lithium printing process using phlyctena made plates. OH shortened to Phocaena.

placation dubbing joule, pl  plaintively dubbing joules
the specially prepared or recommended dish of the day from the requisite Mentha [Arabic: from Greek ioon astrevue + grateful to write].

psittacine , pl  psittacine
the region above the external Geneva origin, covered with hair from the time of the Ptolemaic proprietor.

sexual harangue
the personal unwavering directory of sexual remand, the looker-on, etc., at a woman, esp. the wisher.

sexual intercourse
the act of sexual proclamation in which the insensitivity of the majolica makes the penguin erect.

sexual reproduction
reproduction involving the fusion of a male and female haphazard gambrel.

sexual selection
an evoked process in animals, in which selection by fellowship with certain malcontent characters, such as the large Antoninus.



Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2009

Peace and Love

Peace and Love

I would like to take the opportunity to wish you all, blog readers, friends and family of blog readers, a very, VERY Merry Christmas. May this year’s Yuletide be particularly special, that extra bit more joyful, that extra bit more cheerful and full and peace and love.

All the very best,

Raf Uzar

Strefa Rafa

April 6, 2008

BisAs part of my escapades around Warsaw I spend a fair bit of time making a fool of myself on Polskie Radio Bis, better known as Biska. Part of my ‘stuff’ is a weekly Friday slot known as Strefa Rafa where I throw odd Polish cultural phrases at listeners who have a week to come up with interesting translations into English. Anyway, I thought I’d share some of the Polish phrases with you together with audio clips of the translations the listeners gave:

“bo to zła kobieta była”

“mieć plecy”

“wykręcić komuś numer”

“kupa roboty”

“na dwoje babka wróżyła”

“skrót myślowy”


“Polak potrafi”

It really is amazing the ideas people come up with when they put their minds to it. It also makes the life of the translator so much more fulfilling.

Glamorous? I think not!

December 3, 2007

MicLife is a wonderful journey, full of pitholes, mishaps, but at the same time full of surprises, which can be both rewarding and heartening. I spent the weekend in Berlin working for the European Film Academy during the European Film Awards 2007 which took place in Germany’s wonderful capital.

I had the honour of being invited back to work at the European Film Awards after spreading my form of organised chaos at the previous Award Ceremony in Warsaw last year. Yet again, I had the pleasure of working with the same fine crew of genuine professionals. I kneel in shame before their superior intellect and organisation as the President once knelt before General Zod.

My job was to be the mysterious voice behind the credits and in between the clips recording things like “Cinematographer 2007…”, “European Actress 2007…” “European Short Film 2007…”. In other words, I was the voice behind the graphics. It sounds very glamourous, but trust me, it wasn’t. I sat in a cold, dark recording truck with the pre-production team grasping a bottle of water in one hand and the script in the other trying to get my tongue round a variety of languages including Hebrew, Turkish, French (!), Spanish and Romanian.

When that was done, several hours later, I was able to enjoy a few glasses of wine at the Award Ceremony watching the directors, actors, and the whole merry lot of Europe’s finest getting hideously drunk dancing their glitzy socks off to the Leningrad Cowboys who were on top form with their odd brand of cover-bandesque mélange. Between getting introduced to various actors, actresses and producers, I managed to sneek in a few canapés and then sneek out. Post-production awaited me in the morning.

Bummer. I had to get up at six o’ clock in the morning which meant little sleep and a hoarse voice. Not good when your voice is your job. After a gallon of coffee interspersed with tea and OJ, the driver took us to Eurovision where I had to dub over various Frenchies, whilst adjusting the script to the rigours of time and grammar.

We were done by midday but what really topped off the weekend was meeting someone while walking lazily down Friedrichstrasse. I bumped into an old friend from university who I had last seen twelve years ago in Lancaster. Life really is wonderful. 🙂

What’s in a name?

June 12, 2007

The Mighty HussarsI honestly believe that in order to know yourself you have to know your history and everything that it entails. A recent scan of the internet looking for the name Uzar gave amusing results as some of you may recall (–> here).

On a more serious note, however, I think it’s useful for people to know a little bit about their family history and, for example, where their surname comes from. This has proved quite problematic for me and has resulted in conflicting results but they all – surprisingly – seem to lead to the same source.

I was given a few ideas by my grandmother whose knowledge of history and geopolitics was poor to say the least but she was convinced that the family was given the surname by King Jan Sobieski III in honour of their heroics in battle. Perhaps.

This, however, doesn’t explain why the form of the name is ‘Uzar’ and not ‘Hussar‘ which of course would be more appropriate for Sobieski’s soldiers. As is known, the Hussars, or more appropriately, the Polish Hussars were a mighty and feared set of warriors.

Yup, this I like. I wouldn’t mind being one of those. My own little theory is that the name Hussar changed over time to Uzar. Not at all improbable seeing that the family’s origins are somewhere in western Ukraine – the dropping of the ‘h’ sound and hardening of the ‘ss’ into ‘z’ would not be out of the question.

Another theory that also seems to gravitate towards Ukraine is the myth of the Khazars which I find particulary alluring and romantic. ‘Khazar’, also, is not far off ‘Uzar’ and the shift is quite smooth:
Khazar –> Azar –> Uzar. Hey, presto! What I love about the myth of the Khazars is that the whole civilisation/culture is shrouded in mystery. By some they are seen as one of the lost tribes of Israel, by others a people whose king was petitioned by Muslims, Christians and Jews to convert to their religion and this choice ultimately sealed their doom. There is so much mystery surrounding these people that it’s difficult to pinpoint who they were or where they came from and why they disappeared – a kind of Eurasian equivalent of the Mayas/Incas who allegedly disappeared off the face of the earth.

Christopher Walken

September 26, 2006

I was thinking about Christopher Walken today. Apparently, when the guy gets a script he takes his part and re-reads the entire thing. He scribbles all over the script inserting pauses, changing intonation so that he’s left with a script that intonation-wise is completely alien to the first version. He’s fascinated with changing phrases, sentences, so that the audience looks at language differently. The famous Shakespearean line might be rendered:

“To… be or… not to be, that IS the… question.”

He’s forever making the audience hear language, and therefore the world, a little bit differently. Interesting, really. If you don’t believe me, have a listen: http://www.walkenclips.com/


September 1, 2006

[Drum roll]


Yes, it is the first of September today and I have absolutely nothing at all to write about. I should really go and make myself some breakie coz I’m starving, but I want to ‘scribble’ something down first, and regurgitate on the screen (as I always do with this blog). That’s what they’re all about, aren’t they?

Anyway, time for my thought of the day. It’s funny how we all, everyone of us, has a variety of names (and therefore personas). I mean, I am officially ‘Rafal’ yet in Poland I am ‘Rafał’, all my friends call me ‘Raf’, some call me ‘Uzii;, others still call me ‘Rafcio’, ‘Raffy’. I have been known to some as ‘The Rafster’, ‘Muchacho’, ‘Darling’, ‘Dzióbek’. The list could go on for a lot longer. Yes, you’re given a name at birth, but we also do so much to mould these names or take on the names that others give us. Wierd that.

Time for me to get dressed and feed…