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Polish/Polish pronunciation

Polish/Polish pronunciation
^ Polish ^ < Some useful expressions > Polish pronunciation is rather regular. Once you learn the rules, you should be able to guess how a word is pronounced and get it more or less right even if you've never heard it before (unlike English which is rather unpredictable). Vowels are pronounced similar to their counterparts in most other European languages (not English though) but note, there are no long vowels. Stress is almost always on the penultimate (next-to-last) syllable.[1] (b d f h k l m n p t z are pronounced as you'd expect them to be.)
IPA a Comments/Roughly... Example (work, job) (to take) (balalaika) Like ts in cats. Equivalent to German z in Zeit. (what else? / anything else/more?) (name of town) (Cyprus) (name of town) (Slovakia) (epidemic) (next) (still) (plaster) (name of town) (street) (completely) (white) (pig) (one) (her) (name of town) (pain, ache) (sorrow, pity) (far) (why) (good) (what is this?) (name of town) (near) (step) (hot) (name of city) (silver) (son) (to write) (clear, bright) (sometimes)

a ts

g i

Like in met.

Always hard like in game, never like gene.

feet but shorter. Acts like Polish j in front of another vowel, thus, niebo (sky) is pronounced like njebo (not an actual word!).

j l

Like y in yes.

Must be a clear L sound. Avoid dark L.

author or cord.

Rolled r. is also acceptable.

Always soft like in silk. It is never pronounced as a z.

Polish/Polish pronunciation

(lips) (wonderfully) (phrase) (island) (first) (son) (you) (holy, blessed) (lemon) (only)

u v

moose or soup.

Pronounced like v. Before voiceless consonants, it may be pronounced as f. Somewhat similar to sit or myth. Compare the verbs (to be) and (to beat, hit). The first sounds roughly like the English word bitch while the second is closer to beach.

Special letters are:

IPA Comments/Roughly... Example (To where?) (up to now/here) (still) (snake) (name of region) (bronze-ish, brownish) (moth) (to lift up) (to pay) (train) (completely) ("gladly") ("deep") (snakes) (sky blue-ish) (clearing in forest) (I can, am able to) (salmon) (fog, mist) (cotton) (mistake) (April) (from Gubin) (south, noon) (man from Gniezno)

n "Nasal o" m Pronounced like on or om (when followed by b or p) or [w]. See for details. w When is followed by , most Poles will pronounce it as o.


Soft tch. Similar to but clearly softer than cz. c followed by i is pronounced just like . ciastko, pocig, stulecie ("cookie", "train", "hundred years") are pronounced as "astko", "pog", "stulee" (not "iastko", "poig", "stuleie").

n m w

"Nasal e" Pronounced like en or em (when followed by b or p) or [w]. See for details. When is the last letter of a word, or when followed by l or , most Poles will pronounce it like a regular Polish e, slightly lengthened.

Pronounced like an English w as in will. (L with stroke was originally a special type of l. This is still acceptable and understood by most Poles.)


Pronounced like soft n in onion. Similar to Spanish and French gn.

Exactly the same as u, like tool or soup. Comes from a redundant medieval vowel roughly inbetween O and U, only (until) (to be able to) distinguished and pronounced in the mountains and some parts of the countryside. (mountain, hill) Soft sh. Similar to but clearly softer than sz. s followed by i is pronounced just like . siatka, Kasia, gsi ("net", "Katie", "geese") are pronounced as "atka", "Kaa", "ge" (not "iatka", "Kaia", "gi"). (something) (laughter) (to go) (name of town) (August) (sister)


Polish/Polish pronunciation

(wrongly, badly) (winter) (earth, ground) (lake) (October) (wife) (that {conjunction}) (yellow) (a lot, many, much) (angular)


Soft zh. Similar to but clearly softer than and rz. z followed by i is pronounced just like . ziarno, ziemia, gazie ("grain", "earth", "branches") are pronounced as "arno", "emia", "gae" (not "iarno", "iemia", "gaie").

Hard zh. Sounds exactly the same as rz. Fairly similar to Zhivago, vision, measure, treasure, leisure, and French je suis.

Special letter combos are:

IPA ch Comments/Roughly... Sounds like "ch" in German 'lachen', Spanish 'j' in 'Javier', or (Scottish) 'Loch Ness'. Most Poles pronounce ch and h identically. Example (hamster) (stomach) (name of town) (personal name) (time) (beginning) (hi, hello!) (food) (bell, ringing) (very) (between) (sound) (blade of grass) (today) (girl, girlfriend) (hopeless) (to arrive {by vehicle, not on foot}) (jam) (river) (Rome) (March) (fiancee) (soul) (our) (area, territory) (coat, cloak)


t dz

Hard tch. Fairly similar to chip.



d dzi

Somewhat similar to gene. Similar to but softer than d. dz followed by i is pronounced just like d. dziadek, dzie, powodzie ("grandfather", "day", "floods") are pronounced as "dadek", "de", "powode" (not "diadek", "die", "powodie").

John. This is an uncommon sound and usually appears in loanwords.


Hard zh. Sounds exactly the same as . Fairly similar to Zhivago, vision, measure, treasure, leisure, and French je suis. (Even Poles find it impossible to pronounce after k, ch, p, or t. Pronouncing it as "sh" is fine in those cases).


Hard sh. Fairly similar to ship.

In most cases, vowels are pronounced separately, for example, stoi, moi, twoi, nauczy, zaufa, (to milk), (Ukraine), (name of region), (atheist) The main exception are vowel combos beginning with "i". As explained above, niebo is pronounced "njebo", not "ni-ebo". Other examples: (beautifully), (to remember), (run). Vowel combos right at the beginning of a word are typically pronounced as a diphthong (these are generally loanwords). For example, (personal name), (autograph), (Europe). If you don't know how to pronounce hard/soft pairs ( (liquid) ) you can use the same form and you will usually be understood. Note: While the rule seems to be effective in most cases, the word ciecz might not be the best

Polish/Polish pronunciation example for it. If you end up pronouncing it so that is sounds similar to cie (pronounced "e", colloq. janitor), you may get funny looks, especially from older speakers (due to the humorous context it had in the old comedy series Alternatywy 4). Doubled consonants are pronounced individually or lengthened, for example, (daily), (receptive), lekki (light), oddech (breath), dziennik (daily newspaper), zza (from beyond, behind), greccy ("Greek", masculine, plural, nominative adjective), or ssak (mammal). You may also notice something called final devoicing, for example: chod (come!) sounds like cho (although) : (be {imperative}) final sounds more like sz : (because, since), (although) final b p : (method) final g k : (train) final d t : (error), (from over there) final w f : (puff), (first) final z s : (sensibly)

Devoicing is not something you need to focus on but you should be aware of it.

[1] As noted above, stress is almost always on the penultimate (next-to-last) syllable. The exceptions are: words with a conditional ending. Here you need to momentarily ignore the ending (which always starts with by), then find the penult: verbs: chciaabym, robilibymy other words: ebycie a very small number of foreign loanwords: matematyka, gramatyka. However, most loanwords have stress on the penult. verbs in the past tense using the endings -my or -cie (1st and 2nd person plural). Here ante-penultimate stress is more correct. However, some Poles have a tendency to put stress on the penult. (http:/ / www. coli. uni-saarland. de/ ~dominika/ icphs_1002. pdf)

Further reading
Sadowska, Iwona (2012). Polish: A Comprehensive Grammar. Oxford; New York: Routledge. ISBN978-0-415-47541-9.

External links
Polish Pronunciation Audio and Grammar Charts ( King's College London: Polish Language Resources ( polish.aspx)

Article Sources and Contributors

Article Sources and Contributors

Polish/Polish pronunciation Source: Contributors: Adrignola, Buncic, Caskwino, CommonsDelinker, Derbeth, Dijkstra, Goulo, LittleDan, Lou, Martin Kraus, Mike.lifeguard, Nickrusnov, Sekelsenmat, Siebrand, Skizzik, Swanvideos, Talthen, V111P, Veritas-tr, 185 anonymous edits

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