100 years!

The other day I was wishing a friend a happy birthday on Facebook, and as they live in Poland, I decided to do so in Polish, as you do.

So off I went to the birthday page on Omniglot and found that in Polish birthday greetings include:

  • Wszystkiego najlepszego!
  • Wszystkiego najlepszego z okazji urodzin!
  • Sto lat!

The first two look quite formal (and very difficult to pronounce): wszystkiego najlepszego means “all the best”, and wszystkiego najlepszego z okazji urodzin means “all the best on your birthday.

I chose Sto lat. Which got me thinking about what it means, and that there’s a town in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books called Sto Lat, and another called Sto Helit. Whenever these names come up, I wonder if they mean something in any round world languages.

After pondering this, I guessed that sto lat means a hundred years – I don’t speak Polish, but my knowledge of other Slavic languages (mainly Czech and Russian) helped. Sto Helit doesn’t mean anything, as far as I can discover.

Sto lat does indeed mean a hundred years and comes from a Polish song that’s sung at birthdays, wedding and anniversaries.

Sto lat, sto lat
Niech żyje, żyje nam.
Sto lat, sto lat,
Niech żyje, żyje nam,
Jeszcze raz, jeszcze raz,
Niech żyje, żyje nam,
Niech żyje nam!

This means:

100 years, 100 years,
May they live!
100 years, 100 years,
May they live!
Once again, once again,
May they live!
May they live!

You can hear it here:

And there’s another version here:

4 thoughts on “100 years!

  1. This is a bit like Mandarin 万岁 [萬歲] (wànsuì) “long life/long live…!” which literally means “10,000 years (of age)”. (Don’t confuse this with 晚岁 [晚歲] (wǎnsuì) “later years/old age”.)

  2. Oh Rauli, I looked up banzai in the English Wiktionary, and to my surprise it says this Japanese-derived word is an English adjective, interjection, and noun, with various meanings. And there’s also the English expression banzai attack/banzai charge. Plus, the Portuguese-speaking are reported to have the word banzé “directly taken from the Japanese” which is “still used as meaning a lot of noise made by a gathering of people.” (This reminds me of the Mandarin rènaor, btw.) You live —long or not— and learn.


  3. I too think that names and city names mean something else in some other language. I know a few words from one of the languages I speak, Kannada and some bad words from this language mean something very innocent in another language.

    But I’m so glad we have the internet and we can always search and know the meanings of different words in other languages.

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