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When does polish "ch" sound like eng "ch" and when is it "h"?


NPosuniak 8 | 91  
28 Jun 2009 /  #1
Are there official rules as to when "ch" makes the english "h" and when it makes the english "ch" sound? Ive heard it as 'ch' as in chowa, but mostly it is just an 'h.'

I suspect it is either placement or something to do with vowels surrounding.
TIA
z_darius 14 | 3,968  
28 Jun 2009 /  #2
Polish "ch" is always pronounced similar to English "h" as in "home". Where the pronuciation of the sound may vary are words of foreign origin, foreign names etc.

There used to be an audible difference between the pronunciation of "ch" and "h" in Polish, with "h" being a voiced sound. Some older people will still pronounce "h" in ways clearly identifying the sound.
OP NPosuniak 8 | 91  
28 Jun 2009 /  #3
hmmm. I wonder why chowa was pronounced chowa and not howa. Maybe just a weird dialect or something.
z_darius 14 | 3,968  
28 Jun 2009 /  #4
I wonder why chowa was pronounced chowa and not howa

I think you need to write it down in one of the phonetic scripts. Otherwise things look weird. IMO for course chowa will be pronounced as chowa. How else?
gumishu 11 | 5,680  
28 Jun 2009 /  #5
czała :P

man, these are basics :P
MrBubbles 10 | 614  
28 Jun 2009 /  #6
Polish "ch" is always pronounced similar to English "h" as in "home"

What if the ch is at the end of the word? Ruch / Lech etc.?
plk123 8 | 4,149  
28 Jun 2009 /  #7
ch always sound like an h. always. which one belong where is the hard part.
OP NPosuniak 8 | 91  
1 Jul 2009 /  #8
...so I went back and listened very carefully to where i heard the Polish "ch" that sounded like english "ch." I realize that it was a soft, unstressed sound followed by the beginning of a hard "h" stressed sound. My native english brain was trying to hear what it thought it should intead of what it actually was. Thanks,
Cardno85 31 | 976  
1 Jul 2009 /  #9
What if the ch is at the end of the word? Ruch / Lech etc.?

I was told it was similar to the Scottish pronunciation of ch, Loch, Glenfiddich, etc.
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
4 Jul 2009 /  #11
Yeah, spot on. Ruch like Loch and Glenfiddich like Lech
Grzegorz_ 51 | 6,161  
4 Jul 2009 /  #12
I've gpt no idea what you all are talking about... ch is always ch...
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
4 Jul 2009 /  #13
Greg, think of the difference in sound between Ruch and Lech, concentrate when you are saying those 2 sounds and you will hear a difference. Ch in Ruch is deeper, lighter in Lech, a higher pitch. Lech is said with a more open mouth.
Grzegorz_ 51 | 6,161  
4 Jul 2009 /  #14
Not really... Skip R and L and there's no difference... First letter makes the whole word sound stronger or lighter, ch has nothing to do with that...
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
4 Jul 2009 /  #15
You clearly don't hear it, try again :) Ignore the ru and le before the words and listen to the ch, take your own advice ;) Think of it like a seesaw, lech is an 'up' ch and ruch is a 'down' ch.
Grzegorz_ 51 | 6,161  
4 Jul 2009 /  #16
You clearly don't hear it

No I don't... If there's any difference It's very very tiny and not because ch itself is any different but because of different letters before them... Do you still hear any difference in uch and ech ?
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
4 Jul 2009 /  #17
Ask Cardno and dtaylor, us Scots hear those letters differently. I do, yes. Ech is an 'up' ch and uch is a 'down' ch.

Uch is more of a Dutch sound whereas ech is a more open sound.
Grzegorz_ 51 | 6,161  
4 Jul 2009 /  #18
us Scots hear those letters differently

Maybe you just don't pronounce them correctly...
z_darius 14 | 3,968  
4 Jul 2009 /  #19
seanus,

there are no sound variations in Polish "ch". None whatsoever. If you, Cardno or dtaylor hear them it has nothing to do with the Polish language or phonology ;)
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
4 Jul 2009 /  #20
Sorry, I hear a difference so we'll just have to agree to disagree ;)
z_darius 14 | 3,968  
4 Jul 2009 /  #21
I agree that you hear the difference, but not that the difference exists.
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
4 Jul 2009 /  #22
Well, maybe some patyczki would help you out ;)
z_darius 14 | 3,968  
4 Jul 2009 /  #23
No need for patyczki for me.

Your Polish is excellent from what I could tell based on your posts on PF, but even in writing it doesn't take elaborate essays on your part in the Polish language for a native speaker of Polish to tell it's not your native language. What you hear is one thing. What's actually there is another.
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
4 Jul 2009 /  #24
So you are telling me that chata and chory sound the same as ruch and lech? Come off it! ;)
z_darius 14 | 3,968  
4 Jul 2009 /  #25
Yes, they do.

I admit though that you may have indeed correctly heard what should not be there.

Sometimes you may hear a difference in less than adept speakers of Polish who will pronounce "chata" as "hata", where "h" is harder than "ch". In most cases it's a residual habit of easterly Poles, by which I mean Poles who either moved elsewhere in Poland from the East, or their descendants.

This is incorrect pronunciation in standard Polish. Due to the mechanics of speech it is unlikely in Polish to produce hard "h" at the end of the word so the error will not occur when "ch" is in the final position.
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
4 Jul 2009 /  #26
This is where Scottish pron comes in. Hata is decidely weaker than chata with the Dutch thing behind the ch in chata. When I hear Ruch Chorzów, it doesn't sound so weak to me.

Not only easterly Poles, dariusz. I hear it here quite often.
OP NPosuniak 8 | 91  
4 Jul 2009 /  #27
I have been seeing this a lot in a eng-pol phrasebook....
Some of the polish words that start with ch will start with kch sound for the english pronunciation of the word. It is starting to get kind of annoying.
Matowy - | 295  
5 Jul 2009 /  #28
The Polish "ch" sound is basically a throaty Irish "h". Always. I can't think of any sound in English that is like this, but it's not hard to find.

The "kch" sounds pretty accurate, though obviously you don't actually make the hard "k" sound, you just form the "k" in the back of your mouth while pronouncing a "h".

Listen to the chorus in this song: youtube.com/watch?v=CANx5RcdPdo

"Więc chodź..."/"vyents hyhgoj..."

I am not a native Polish speaker, and the little Polish that I do know is quite limited. I do believe, however, that my pronunciation is near-perfect, though it obviously lacks a Polish accent.

EDIT: Polish is not as versatile in its pronunciation as English is, so learning individual pronunciations phrase-by-phrase is not really necessary. I would advise simply getting familiar with all the phonetics first, then you should find it quite easy to pronounce any Polish phrases without any problems. Try asking some Polish people to explain the pronunciations to you via Skype or MSN. Once you have that basic knowledge, you'll be able to say anything in Polish.
plk123 8 | 4,149  
5 Jul 2009 /  #29
no man.. no k, no nothing.. simple H is what it sounds like.. don't make something out of this that just isn't. ch=h in pronunciation in every single case.. there is absolutely no difference in sound.. NONE. a few centruries ago, perhaps but not today.
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
5 Jul 2009 /  #30
hyhgoj is most certainly not chodź. Go back to studying Hungarian and stop polluting the forum with garbage and misinformation, Matowy.

Near perfect my rear end.

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