Polish government terminology


by Kret

Polish local government is well known for its wonderful buildings, which though built in different architectural styles all have distinctive appearance which helps create the right ambiance between Polish citizens and the friendly and helpful officials who serve them. Photo Maciej Boryna.

(Click to see original image on Wikipedia and for details of licensing.)

Polish government terminology can be a bit tricky. I’m grateful to Kret for compiling a list of the Polish administrative units and their common officials together with their approximate English equivalents. An easy to remember pronunciation guide is provided for English readers.

Polish term English pronounciation and definition
Województwo ‚Wodgeup’ (pronunciation as in bodge up) – Province, highest level of local government sub-division
Wojewoda ‚Wodgerwodger’ (pronunciation as in bodger) – Provincial Governor, literal meaning War Leader – this apparent belligerence is not borne out in deeds, which tend to be more in the line of wodging and bodging
Marszałek ‚Marshmallow’ – either the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies or the chief executive officer of the Wodgeup Council, hard headed but soft inside
Okręg ‚Oh Crikey’ – a nebulous concept of central state authorities (and also some other entities) delegated to a territorial level, which has no corresponding local government equivalent. Examples – Higher courts, professional and trade associations, chambers of commerce
Powiat ‚Powwow’ – District level of local government, vehicle registration and passports, the tax office and the social security office and the lower court with police district station
Starosta ‚Star roaster’ – the District Chief Executive uses the title of a medieval civil local government officer and visibly likes his food
Gmina ‚Gimme’ – the Municipality authority has become legendary for labour intensive inefficiency, this lamentable condition is supported by strident demands for money from all and sundry, hence, Gimme lots of money now!
Wójt ‚Oik’ – this distinguished potentate, the municipal chief executive officer is responsible for a range of social services at the point of contact, frequently more theoretical than actual
Radny ‚Ratty’ – this pronunciation is also a useful cautionary note concerning the legendary mendacity and venality of the species, serves as an elected Councillor
Solectwo ‚So whato’ – an administrative unit too small to make a decision yet sufficient to pay an official, below
Sołtys ‚Salty’ – official village busybody receiving remuneration for virtually nothing
Sejm As in, always the ‚same’ people, but different party badges – lower chamber of Polish parliament remarkably similar to House of Commons
Poseł ‚Fossil’ – fossilised in the public interest, dynamic in own interest, adapts quickly to U.K. and Western European standards in public life.
Senate ‚Senatorium’ – if embarrassed by journalists or state investigators Senators (see below) take to their beds waving doctor’s certificates
Senator meaning can be a bit evasive, best remembered by dividing the title in its two component roots – ‚Senile’ and ‚Dementor’

One Response to “Polish government terminology”

  1. Time to hear about ‚reach-out payments’, is it not!


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