The short story “How the World Was Saved”, from Stanislaw Lem’s The Cyberiad, opens as follows:
One day Trurl the constructor put together a machine that could create anything starting with n. When it was ready, he tried it out, ordering it to make needles, then nankeens and negligees, which it did, then nail the lot to narghiles filled with nepenthe and numerous other narcotics. The machine carried out his instructions to the letter. Still not completely sure of its ability, he had it produce, one after the other, nimbuses, noodles, nuclei, neutrons, naphtha, noses, nymphs, naiads, and natrium.
This paragraph seems highly coupled to the English language, but the book was originally published in Polish. Do all these words also start with n in Polish? Did the original use a different letter? What choices did the translator have to make, and did this change the meaning of the text?