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Please don't confuse verbs with pathos!

'I vividly remember a lecture during which windows flew' reminisces prof. Jan Miodek, a linguist and director of the Institute of Polish Studies, University of Wrocław. 'It might have been due to a crowd that assembled in too small room, as it turned out later'.


Miodek's lectures have always enjoyed popularity. Everyone could witness that during his inauguration lectures, organised as part of the Lower Silesian Science Festival. However, this year it was enough space to seat people. Miodek always spins yarns about a leitmotif coined by prof. Orzechowski. This year it was “Grains of Knowledge”. 'I intend to look into its morphological structure and check how it has been functioning in the Polish language to date,” he explains.



Professor regards each subject as a challenge. He as an individualist finds it difficult to conform to somebody else's vision but at the same time he admits that some interesting subjects are sometimes raised. 'Preparations for a lecture involve consulting a lot of dictionaries. Luckily, it's not drudgery to me. It's my joy,' he stresses.


To his mind it is moving that even little children show up at his lectures. 'It is really challenging when people at different ages come to your lecture. I do my best to talk quite simply but sometimes I see very little kids who sit as quite as mice and listen to me. If I were them, I would burst out with energy' laughs prof. Miodek.


He co-operates with the festival because he agrees with its main aim, which is talking about science as simply as possible. 'I am a linguist for people, not closed in the office. This passion for explaining things must run in the family – my parents were teachers. But for my passion, nobody would have listened to me,' he said.


He remembers his parents' lessons because he was often taken to them. As it so happened that a nanny couldn't come and a little child couldn't be at home alone. I looked up to my parents. They seated me among their students and as a small child I really wanted to take part in their classes.'


That is why three-year-old Miodek used to take a notebook, in which he drew lines. By doing so, he got an impression that he participated in the lessons as older students did. At times one of the students, a talented drawer, was asked to take care of little Miodek. 'Dad seated me beside him and said: Zdzisław draw little boy something nice,' recalls our linguist.


When asked if imparting knowledge to young generations in a simple way is important to him, he protested at ascribing pomposity to him. He claims that he has his own hierarchy of things, for instance his family is in the first place. 'This gives me satisfaction. I know that I come across as totally engrossed in verbs but I only do what I should do,' he concludes.



Jan Franciszek Miodek, a linguist, professor, director of The Institute of Polish Studies, University of Wrocław, a member of The Linguistics Committee of the Polish Academy of Science and The Council for the Polish Language, is an author of inauguration lecturers, organised as part of the Lower Silesian Science Festival. He also hosted the programme called “Ojczyznę polszczyznę” on Polish Television from 1978 to 2007. Currently, he is running the programme entitled “Słownik polsko@polski” on TVP Polonia.

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