Les gens qui ne rient jamais ne sont pas des gens sérieux

Be who you are and say what you mean, those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind

Friday, November 04, 2005

More Polish handy hints

If you ask me, the one thing that is relatively straight forward in Polish is the fact that once you know how a letter, or combination of letters is pronounced, it stays the same.

There are no words like those in English which have letters that are not pronounced (through, knife, psychology), or change their pronunication depending on the circumstances (read present and read past). So this is very helpful.

However, it goes without saying that this rule doesn't stop words having unhelpful numbers of consonants in a row (przyszłość for example, which means future) or other complications ready to trip up the unsuspecting foreigner.

I have an example. My favourite so far.

Cz and Ci are pronounced similarly, a kind of ch sound. Except that the Poles around me tell me that cz is a harder sound 'Ccchhhh' and that ci is slightly different, more like 'Cchhhhh' (get it? Ha, thought so).

It generally doesn't matter that much EXCEPT that cieszę się means I am happy and czeszę się (see the difference?) means I am brushing my hair.


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Anonymous Kinuk said...

*lol* I know, my husband is going through something similar. He's been learning Polish now for a year and he's getting better at the pronouciation, but sometimes he accuses me of just making up words. I can't blame him: some have got 3 or 4 consonants in a row.

My friend, no longer living in Poland, used to have trouble with "kasza" and "Kasia". Both have that Shhh sound, except one (Kasia) is a softer one. All I can say is that I'm glad I was born in Poland to Poles and learned it all when I was little.

9:53 am  
Blogger Becca said...

I feel for your husband.

When you're young it's so much easier to absorb new languages, you just soak it up like a sponge. Same happened for me with french when we lived in Paris (I was 3!)

Still, it's fun grappling with a challenging language like Polish, and highly entertaining at times...

12:54 pm  
Blogger Gustav said...

I accused them of lying when they told me those two sounds were individual. Now I clearly hear the difference. It takes time, but it comes.

8:55 pm  
Blogger Becca said...

*big sigh* I guess I'll wait for it all to click into place then. :)

7:59 am  

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