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Double meanings, Polish slang and embarrassment


catsoldier 62 | 596
4 Aug 2011 #1
I had a polish woman helping me learn Polish which was great. One day I was pointing out that the ż sound at the ends of words isn't always pronounced the same, jeż and też. She must have thought I got some kind of a buzz out of talking to her like this(admittedly it wasn't the first time I was caught out by double meanings). Only that her husband is a saint he would have murdered me too(more than likely he understood that I meant no harm and thought it was funny) It is only later that I find out these things and burn with embarrassment.

Do you have any embarrassing stories like this?

The following video has over 1 million hits! It is number one when you search for jeża which means hedgehog, you can use your imagination for the second meaning.


Sidliste_Chodov 1 | 441
4 Aug 2011 #2
Don't forget that robić komuś loda has nothing to do with offering someone a bowl of ice cream :)
pawian 163 | 10,352
4 Aug 2011 #3
you can use your imagination for the second meaning.

What is the second meaning of jeża?

One day I was pointing out that the ż sound at the ends of words isn't always pronounced the same, jeż and też.

There is a big problem with pronouncing Polish consonants at the end of words. Most of them are uttered as voiceless, even if are written as voiced.

jeż - [jesh]
też - [tesh]
lew = [lef]
jabłko [japko]

etc etc

That is why it is a tragic task to try to teach Polish learners to pronounce English words with voiced endings. For most Poles dock and dog have the same pronunciation.
OP catsoldier 62 | 596
4 Aug 2011 #4
Most of them are uttered as voiceless, even if are written as voiced.

What does this mean?

for jeża does the a at the end change the pronunciation of the ż?

jeża is just a case of jeż I assume or plural or something
pawian 163 | 10,352
4 Aug 2011 #5
for jeża does the a at the end change the pronunciation of the ż?

Jeża -[jezha]
Jeż - [jesh]
Lyzko
4 Aug 2011 #6
Catsoldier, it means that when you hear a final consonant in English, a back letter such as in "baG", "haD" etc.., it's ALWAYS pronounced or 'voiced' in English! In Polish, this is almost never the case, e.g. "także" < "taGzhe", "Bóg" < "boohhK", and so forth. The 'k' in the first word is pronounced like a 'g' and the ultimate 'g' in the second word is pronounced like a 'k'; it is therefore 'devoiced'!

-:)
OP catsoldier 62 | 596
4 Aug 2011 #7
The 'k' in the first word is pronounced like a 'g' and the ultimate 'g' in the second word is pronounced like a 'k';

I honestly don't hear g in także or k in bóg.
Lyzko
4 Aug 2011 #8
The devoicing deons't mean you don't hear the sound, merely that it's been 'softened' a little. Listen carefully to how native Poles say those words and how they make the same reverse error in English, devoicing those final voiced consonants in words such as 'eveninG', 'goinG' etc... which they often pronounce 'ehveninK' and 'goinK' etc....
Vincent 9 | 805 Moderator
4 Aug 2011 #9
I honestly don't hear g in także or k in bóg.

Can you hear any difference in the words Bóg, Bug and buk?
loska - | 8
5 Aug 2011 #10
In that case you must be pronouncing these hyper correctly which is in fact incorrect:)

In Polish this phenomenon of final 'g' transforming into 'k' is called utrata dźwięczności w wygłosie.

Regards
OP catsoldier 62 | 596
5 Aug 2011 #11
In Polish this phenomenon of final 'g' transforming into 'k' is called utrata dźwięczności w wygłosie.

I will look at this thanks.
plgrl
5 Aug 2011 #12
What is the second meaning of jeża?

Hair in some place...
strzyga 2 | 993
5 Aug 2011 #13
Can you hear any difference in the words Bóg, Bug and buk?

No, phonetically they're the same.

Catsoldier, there are pairs of voiced/voiceless consonants:
b - p
d - t
g - k
w - f
z - s
ź - ś
dź - ć
ż - sz
dż - cz

Try to say God (English) and kot (Polish). Put your hand on your throat and feel the difference. Your vocal cords vibrate when you pronounce the voiced consonants.

Now try to whisper the two above words - they sound the same. Is because when whispering, you're not able to voice the consonants so the voiced ones change into their de-voiced counterparts.

You may practice it with single syllables, like: do - to, go - ko, wo- fo wtc. (Polish pronounciation).

Now, when a voiced consonants is at the final position in a Polish word, it becomes devoiced - so you pronounce lód as lut, bez as bes and so on.

But when the word is inflected, the consonant often loses its final position and finds itself surrounded by voiced sounds, usually vowels:
lód - loda
mózg - mózgu

and then it remains voiced.

In your example with jeż, it's de-voiced in the Nominative and voiced in other cases (jeże, jeża, jeżom, jeżowi etc).

It's not really complicated, just a little practice should do the trick.
OP catsoldier 62 | 596
5 Aug 2011 #14
bez as bes

So if I should say bez like bes from the first part of "best" in English and I will sound bettter(and all the times i said bez I was wrong! :-( . That was a super post Strzyga. Are there any books that you know of that list all these pronunciation things or are there so few that there is no book? Thanks.
Lyzko
5 Aug 2011 #15
Catsoldier, if you DON'T feel a buzzing/tickle in the back of your throat when pronouncing 'jeża' or the 'rz'-sound, you may be pronouncing them incorrectly-:)
OP catsoldier 62 | 596
5 Aug 2011 #16
Hi Lyzko, I must practice this thanks

Bóg, Bug and buk

Thanks Vincent, I missed your post initially but I see it now, thanks.
Lyzko
5 Aug 2011 #17
Then of course, Catsoldier, there's the elision in Polish with which learners (yours truly, for instance!!) struggle in the beginning: " z Krakowa" < sskrakova, NOT "zz ..." LOL Here, the "z-sound" becomes devoiced before the following letter. Or when the "w-sound" becomes an "f-sound" e.g. "W Katowicach" < Fkatoveetsakh etc..
strzyga 2 | 993
5 Aug 2011 #18
So if I should say bez like bes from the first part of "best" in English and I will sound bettter

yes :) but watch out for longer phrases, as the rule also works across words, eg.:
bez czapki is bes czapki
but bez domu is bez domu, as voiced dfollows, creating fully voiced environment.

I ran out of time when editing the previous post so here it goes further:

I don't know of any book that would explain the Polish phonetics in English. Others may be more helpful. But you may read up on the basics of articulatory phonetics. Some pictures, like this one, are actually helpful:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Place_of_articulation

They show the exact place of articulation of sounds in different languages. For example, t and d in English are alveolar, meaning that when pronouncing them the tip of your tongue touches the gums behind your upper teeth. In Polish they are dental - the tip of the tongue touches the upper teeth. Try to pronounce them this way and you'll get harder sound. Such little differences make up for different sounding languages. This knowledge is is helpful in mastering pronunciation. And then it's just practice :)

Thanks.

:)
pawian 163 | 10,352
5 Aug 2011 #19
catsoldier - (and all the times i said bez I was wrong! :-( .

=catsoldier]I had a polish woman helping me learn Polish which was great.

That Polish woman certainly deserves a little spanking for not telling you about it.
Lyzko
5 Aug 2011 #20
Also, "bez-" as a prefix in words such as "bezpośredni" is elided to become "beSSpawshrednee", for example....., and not as a final "z-sound" by itself.
OP catsoldier 62 | 596
5 Aug 2011 #21
Thanks for this tip.

a little spanking for not telling you about it

wouldn't that lead to more embarrassement? :-) I think that she overlooked this so as not to make me think it was completely impossible to learn Polish, it could also be a little of the idea that what I was saying was good enough for a foreigner and would be understood. I did learn a lot from her though, when I hear Polish I can understand a lot of it. I don't know if it is rude but when I am out like today I listen for polish speakers and eavesdrop, I was in a queue for coffee and I was listening to the Polish couple next to me discussing what to get(in Polish), if they were speaking English I wouldn't care what they ordered. She was interested in hot chocolate although she ordered a moka, she also commented that it was cold :-)

yes :) but watch out for longer phrases, as the rule also works across words, eg.:bez czapki is bes czapkibut bez domu is bez domu, as voiced d follows, creating fully voiced environment.

I will have to learn more about this one, thanks.

Here, the "z-sound" becomes devoiced before the following letter.

I have heard this sound unbelieveably, "z kim a rozmawiam" and I was told to pronounce the z like s also but never told why.

Thanks for all the super information about polish pronunciation, some people say that Polish grammer is the hardest but Polish pronunciation can't be far behind, can it?

Anyway all your posts have given me a huge amount of information and help, it must be one of the best threads on pronunciation thanks to you all.
Lyzko
5 Aug 2011 #22
Catsoldier, let me only reiterate (speaking only for myself here), for the Poles, the chaotic, indeed sadistic, vagueries of English spelling/pronunciation cannot lag all too far behind tbhe challenges posed by Polish orthography and pronunciation for English speakers! Even if they mightn't always admit it, many find English terribly hard as well.

Moreover, some Polish speakers may even purposely withhold pertinent info. about their language, thinking foolishly, that foreigners will never learn it well, therefore why bother going into the necessary depth with them-:)
Vincent 9 | 805 Moderator
5 Aug 2011 #23
I have heard this sound unbelieveably, "z kim a rozmawiam" and I was told to pronounce the z like s also but never told why.

It's called "assimilation". When a voiced and unvoiced consonant meet in the middle of a word, or between words it undergoes assimilation. This is because our vocal cords cannot constantly switch to different vibrations.
patrick 6 | 113
5 Aug 2011 #24
'g' in the second word is pronounced like a 'k'

I love when my wife talks about Sting, but calls him Stink.

Catsoldier, there are pairs of voiced/voiceless consonants:
b - p
d - t
g - k
w - f
z - s
ź - ś
dź - ć
ż - sz
dż - cz

Did you miss "rz" as "sz" as in "egzemplarz"?
strzyga 2 | 993
5 Aug 2011 #25
Did you miss "rz" as "sz" as in "egzemplarz"?

oh yes, I forgot. ż/rz - sz, as ż and rz phonetically are the same. Thanks.

Thanks for all the super information about polish pronunciation, some people say that Polish grammer is the hardest but Polish pronunciation can't be far behind, can it?

Once you get over the devoicing principle there are no more traps that I could think of and our pronunciation becomes wonderfully regular. As most English speakers, you'll probably have problems with differentiating between sz and ś or cz and ć so you just need to work on individual sounds. Anyway, if Poles can understand you, that's a lot already. And eavesdropping, when done discreetly, certainly is a great and inexpensive way to improve on your listening comprehension :)
OP catsoldier 62 | 596
6 Aug 2011 #26
And eavesdropping, when done discreetly, certainly is a great and inexpensive way to improve on your listening comprehension :)

No eye contact by me but eavesdropping isn't necessary when you have you tube which is super. Although in a public place I think that people aren't foolish enough to think that no one understands or hears what they are saying, they aren't the only Poles in the village.

Did you miss "rz" as "sz" as in "egzemplarz"?

Thanks Patrick

It's called "assimilation".

Thanks Vincent

why bother going into the necessary depth with them

I can understand it but it makes it harder to learn the language. The only thing to do in this scernario is to be a really good student, what is the saying "when the student is ready the teacher will appear" Maybe you have to inspire the teacher rather the the teacher inspiring you?
gumishu 11 | 5,122
6 Aug 2011 #27
No eye contact by me but eavesdropping isn't necessary when you have you tube which is super.

well, if you can't follow a random conversation people hold around you you will have trouble communicating on the phone in a foreign language (I mean the passive side you still need to able to speak the language with sense)
OP catsoldier 62 | 596
6 Aug 2011 #28
well, if you can't follow a random conversation people hold around you

I can but I don't go around stalking people to listen to, if someone happens to be close by who is speaking Polish I make an effort to listen.

You tube conversations are random enough also as are you tube videos on a topic because often the person will start talking about something else for a little while(they go off topic).

My pronunciation and speaking of the language definitely needs a lot of work.

Thanks for the advise
Lyzko
6 Aug 2011 #29
Yes, Catsoldier, Poles need "inspiring" when encountering foreigners who have more than a touristic grasp of their language. They can't quite believe it, often not realizing that were their English skills that much stronger, English-speaking, that is American or British, foreigners might actually feel that much more comfortable attempting a conversation in English with them, like if one went to Amsterdam or some such place and felt uncomfortable in the local lingo.
OP catsoldier 62 | 596
6 Aug 2011 #30
@ Lyzko, :-) even if they had perfect English I would prefer to try and speak in Polish. I don't expect Poles in Poland to speak English and if they do so badly I don't think any less of them.


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