Is this a Polish word?
February 8, 2005 8:18 AM   Subscribe

I'm sure I'm mangling the pronunciation, and I'm sure I misheard a few syllables, but last night while waiting for a bus in Brooklyn, a man came up to me and more than once said something that sounded like "Sheh-deh-mah-shen-see." Does it mean anything?
Some clues: He was polish, also spoke -- in english -- about having just gotten out of a hospital, about how he was crazy, about how his wife was in poland, not america, about how he hadn't eaten, about how he was crazy, about "oh my god" (x3). I gave him some food and a cigarette: he walked a few paces away, looked up at the windows of a second-floor gym, laughed, and did a little dance that mimicked the man on the treadmill. Oh, and he kept apologizing: "I'm so sorry. I so crazy. Oh my God." (x3). Any ideas? I hope to see him again, and I hope to be able to reply appropriately.
posted by nobody to Writing & Language (15 answers total)
I hear "emergency" in there. Maybe as in "the emergency room?" Some people just say "So I drove myself to Emergency and got help."
posted by scarabic at 8:29 AM on February 8, 2005

Yeah, I got "emergency" also. My family is Polish, and although I don't speak the language, it sounds more like "emergency" than anything in Polish to me.
posted by Doohickie at 9:09 AM on February 8, 2005

That sounds plausible. The emphasis was placed on the first and fourth syllables ("SHEH-deh-mah-SHEN-see"). So if "emergency," it would be "EM-er-uh-GEN-cy." Would anyone know if a polish speaker would place the emphasis there?

On the other hand (more context), it didn't sound like he was talking about an emergency -- his talk about the hospital didn't have any urgency behind it. But perhaps the emergency was days ago...
posted by nobody at 9:14 AM on February 8, 2005

Also, when I repeated "shedemashensee" as a question, he seemed to understand that I was repeating what he had said, and followed up with more words I couldn't understand.
posted by nobody at 9:25 AM on February 8, 2005

"She had an emergency?" Maybe referring to why his wife was in Poland at the moment?
posted by Ruki at 9:58 AM on February 8, 2005

Shoo-mah-SHED-nee means "crazy" in Russian, and Polish words are sometimes similar....?
posted by availablelight at 10:27 AM on February 8, 2005

could the first part be "sei di" -- "you're from", "are you from?", in Italian

like, "say-dee"?

this is spooky by the way, it reminds me of the Czech guy in Usual Suspects, the one dying in the hospital who repeats "Keyser Soze"
posted by matteo at 11:44 AM on February 8, 2005

My acquaintance with Polish is glancing at best, but 'I went' in Polish is szedl (pronounced, I think, "shed" -- the last character, in case it succumbs to the infamous MeFi Preview Demon, is an l with a line through it, usually pronounced w but at the end of a word after a consonant, I believe, silent), so my guess is the guy was saying "I went to (the) Emergency (ward/hospital/whatever). Stress in Polish is always on the next-to-last syllable, so emergency would come out as described.

matteo, you lovable lummox, he was Polish, not Italian!
posted by languagehat at 12:04 PM on February 8, 2005

I just ran this by my Polish-speaking friend, and he couldn't make head nor tail of it. Caveat lector.

Plus, the guy in the Usual Suspects was Hungarian.
posted by Johnny Assay at 12:32 PM on February 8, 2005

From Polish friend:

It sounds like he was saying “siedem miesiece” which means seven months. It could have been in reference to how long he was in the hospital.
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:46 PM on February 8, 2005

Polish was my first language, and although I haven't spoken it since I was about 6 or 7, I'll have to second CunningLinguist's friend and put in my vote for siedem miesiecy (seven months). It's pronounced more or less like so:

sheh-dem mye-shohn-sih
posted by pmbuko at 1:24 PM on February 8, 2005

"state of emergency"? Some sort of crazy-old-man reference to New York after 9/11, etc?
posted by Dr. Wu at 2:01 PM on February 8, 2005

this very much sounds like the man was high on a certain drug which i'll not mention. Foreigners aren't exempt from indulgence, so it could be he was taking something to deal whatever problem he was having.
posted by Lockeownzj00 at 3:10 PM on February 8, 2005

CunningLinguist's and pmbuko's suggestions sound most reasonable. I really didn't think at the time that it was accent-distorted English. Thanks.

And Lockeownzj00, what drug did you have in mind? (this because I'm always curious about drugs vs. external signs of a drug's use).
posted by nobody at 4:02 PM on February 8, 2005

i agree, i am fascinated by that as well. Well, I guess it's not going to get me in trouble or anything.

It sounds like many actually. The only that I can actually think of causing a reaction like this would be a psychedelic, however. Good trips can be amazing, but if you are having a bad trip you tend to feel the world crashing down around you and as for me, or...I mean, what I've heard, you tend to think aloud anyway, and might blame yourself. So I'm leaning towards acid here. Could be something similar, like mushrooms, or even a different family but similar--E.

But yeah, that's what I'd say.
posted by Lockeownzj00 at 6:47 PM on February 8, 2005

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