niedziela, 3 czerwca 2012

Politics and Politicians

Something else that often gets confused in the transition between Polish and English is the subject of politics and the people who work in this field (notice that in English we say field and not branch).  Politics is generally treated as an uncountable noun, which means we say politics is (NOT are). It refers to a sphere of activity, usually connected with governing something, such as a country or organisation.  

Like most abstract nouns, we do not use an article (a, an or the) with politics when we are talking about it as a general subject.

I think they're arguing about politics.
There are three subjects one should never discuss in mixed company: religion, sex, and politics.

We sometimes use the when we are talking about a specific kind of politics:

The politics of international environmentalism can be very complex.

The word politic without the s is an adjective, NOT a noun.  It means something (an action or a statement) that seems sensible under the circumstances:

He made a very politic gesture to the Russians.

Or it can be a verb, meaning to engage in political activity. 

The senator is out politicking again.  (Note the added letter k.)

The people who are involved in the activity of politics are called politicians--NOT politics.  Because Polish uses polityk as the word for a person who is involved in this activity, it is very easy to assume that politic is the English equivalent.  But this is a mistake--the word is politician.

I don't trust politicians--they're only interested in money.
A group of German politicians came to Poland for a conference.

The adjective we use to refer to the activity of politics is political.

I think this is really a political question--not an economic one at all.