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The meaning of some Polish Diminutives

Semsem 16 | 26
4 Feb 2010 #1
"There are multiple affixes used to create the diminutive. Some of them are -ka, -czka, -śka, -szka, -cia, -sia, -unia, -enka, -lka for feminine nouns and -ek, -yk, -ciek, -czek, -czyk, -szek, -uń, -uś, -eńki, -lki for masculine words, and -czko, -ko for neuter nouns, among others."

Does anyone want to explain to me what they mean? I know that to take a word "deszcz" and make it to mean "light rain" you'd go "deszczyk" I'm assuming that "yk" means "light"?

Not too sure on any of the others (list supplied by Wikipedia), and not sure if any more diminutives exist.

So, any help, please?
jakubzurawski - | 17
4 Feb 2010 #2
There is no connection between the ending and the meaning.
The ending of diminutive form is depends on the word. For instance anything which ends in "szcz" may be added "yk" to form the diminutive, like:

płaszczyk, barszczyk, leszczyk, deszczyk, chrząszczyk

But you cannot add "yk" to "komputer" or "telefon", instead you use different endings:
komputer -> komputerek
telefon -> telefonik

In the same manner, you cannot add "ik" or "ek" to "szcz" ending nouns.

Genrally to form the diminutive you add, or change the ending of a noun in a way which depends on the ending of the noun. Sometimes more than one option is available and sometimes you can form a diminutive form of something which is already diminutive, like:

nos -> nosek -> noseczek
brocha -> broszka -> broszeczka

You also should know that your list is not full. And there are many irregular diminutives too. And you can also form diminutive adjectives (like maleńki or malutki for mały).
gumishu 12 | 6,007
4 Feb 2010 #3

Does anyone want to explain to me what they mean? I know that to take a word "deszcz" and make it to mean "light rain" you'd go "deszczyk" I'm assuming that "yk" means "light"?

-yk does not have any meaning in itself - it only conveys the idea that this rain (or some other thing) are small, light and similar

btw diminutives existed also in English(till sometime in the Middle Ages) and, behold, the ending that acted as diminutive maker was -ock, like in bollock, Bullock and some other
OP Semsem 16 | 26
5 Feb 2010 #4
So what do the others mean? If "yk" implied light or small, what of the others?

And what are the other diminutives?

And when do you use them? I can't seem to locate anything online that explains them in depth...
marqoz - | 195
5 Feb 2010 #5
And what are the other diminutives?

You're taking it from wrong side. All these endings are to make diminutive without any difference in meaning but in degree.

Polish diminutives (zdrobnienia) have different roles in itself - the same as in English - but in English you have so small choice of wordings here.

It can mean smallness, lightness, tenderness and of course by contrariness - so popular both in English and Polish - toughness, and extreme hugeness.

And the endings. The whole mess about it is due to medieval history of Polish language. There were 2 small semivowels which was lost. They are called yers - soft one and hard one.

They are responsible for all these confusions with declination of piesek (doggy): pieska, pieskowi, pieska, pieskiem, piesku.

All the rest is a plentifulness of tenderness:
0) pies, kamień, Jan | kura, gazeta, Anna
1) -k: piesek, kamyk, Janek | -ka: kurka, gazetka, Anka
2) -cz-k: pieseczek, kamyczek, Janeczek | -cz-ka: kureczka, gazeteczka, Aneczka
and so on...

And all these not only with nouns but also with adjectives and adverbs:
mały (small): maleńki, maluśki, malusieńki
drobno (finely): drobniutko, drobniuteńko, drobniusieńko

After some training with word formation rules you can easily create a diminutive of your choice with every word and every degree of tenderness, but beware - some of them will sound idiotically and not used at all - but quite well intelligible by your listener.
OP Semsem 16 | 26
6 Feb 2010 #6
Let's see if I have this...

From Wikipedia:
kaczka (duck) → kaczuszka, kaczątko
ptak (bird) → ptaszek, ptaszeczek, ptaś, ptasiątko
pióro (feather) → piórko, pióreczko

These would be the declinations of the diminutive right? And they would mean "little" or "small" duck, bird, and feather right?

So then...would mały (small) (masculine) → maleńki, malusi, malutki, maluśki, malusieńki (Wikipedia again), mean "very small" or something like it?

And then...prędko (fast) → prędziutko, prędziuteńko, prędziuśko, prędziusieńko...would be "very fast"? Then what would "prędzej (faster) → prędziusiej" mean?

And then..."płakać (to weep) → płakuniać, płakuńciać, płakusiać" would mean to weep lightly?

And in your example..."piesek, kamyk" to "pieseczek, kamyczek"...would that be small dog (doggy) and small stone, to very small dog and stone?

Or am I still missing something?
marqoz - | 195
6 Feb 2010 #7
Nice work. You're almost completely right.
But as I mentioned you can easily create a diminutive of your choice with every word and every degree of tenderness, but beware - some of them will sound idiotically and not used at all - but quite well intelligible by your listener. And this is a case of: ptaś.

And the verbs... I have been looking in my memory any verb to have diminutive and I have failed. Your artificially created forms płakuniać, płakuńciać, płakusiać are however quite cute and maybe used in some family language when talking to a baby.

The same case is with comparative - they have no dictionary entries for diminutives, but I understand your prędziusiej and I'm almost sure I have heard it talked to a baby.

And once again about meanings: diminutive (with no matter which ending) means in most cases lesser scale or intensity but also tenderness.

And with the scale, yes you;re right - if you're adding more one more diminutive it makes the word even smaller, so pies = normal dog, piesek = doggy, pieseczek = small doggy.

Endings -eńki, -śki sounds more tender than other.

And last remark: all these forms aren't declination (or declension) they are effects of word forming i.e. completely new words, but made according to Polish word forming rules and inheriting any phonetic properties of the root word.
cinek 2 | 345
6 Feb 2010 #8
You must remember that diminutives in Polish have also additional meaning. They are used to express some kind of affection, especially when used by lovers, or when talking to children. Using them for verbs usually doesn't add any information (like fast, faster etc.) but just indicate the affection towards the listener.

Sometimes this kind of speech is also used just to sound more polite (personally I don't like it).

11 Feb 2010 #9
deszcz = rain
deszczyk = light rain

what about deszczek or deszczko? do they mean the same as deszczyk? or are they dim's of deszczyk?
Polonius3 1,000 | 12,446
11 Feb 2010 #10
Margoz -- in view of your command fo Polish lingusitics I was wondering whether you knew of any listing of Polish nominal suffixes, their connotation and numerous examples of each. Some are obvious:

** -isko - augementative (makes something sound and/or coarser than the original); eg psisko, nożysko
** -ina/-yna - pejorative (in the sense of inferior, second-rate, etc.); eg zupina, aktoryzna
** -ęga/-ajda - pejorative (usually suggesting clumsiness); eg łazęga, wałęga, niedorajda, ciamajda
** -izna/-yzna - indicating a realm (property, linguistic/cultrual heritage, complex of traits, etc.); ojcowizna, angielszczyzna, żdanowszczyzna
There are many others. Can you point me in the right direction? Anything on this on the net?
learn polish - | 46
11 Feb 2010 #11
what about deszczek or deszczko?

There are no such words.
marqoz - | 195
11 Feb 2010 #12
I was wondering whether you knew of any listing of Polish nominal suffixes

I can't recall any right now. I've found some partial listing, especially connected with toponymy. However, I'm sure there are some sources. I'll try to find and share it with you. I've found only till now a thesis on Formal description of the derivation in Polish (Formalny opis derywacji w jezyku polskim):

But it's difficult to give any suffix one exact lexical meaning. Sure, they have their etymology. But now it looks like they have two main aims in word forming: distinctive and emotional (which often used to interfere). Professionals used to say some suffixes are more productive which mean they are more frequently used.

Here you have some examples complicating one-one lexical interpretations you tried to establish: zjawisko, lotnisko, wysypisko, wywierzysko; łupina, zwierzyna; mitręga; znajda; łatwizna.
Peter KRK
7 Apr 2010 #13
what about deszczek or deszczko?

deszczuś at last
15 Jul 2014 #14
Merged: Name Diminutives (and meanings?)

Linguistically ignorant fellow here! Question for you.

I've been told that certain name diminutives have different connotations. Just like how in Spanish you've got Ignacio (proper name) and Nacho (nickname), but Nachito ("little Nacho") or "Nachitito" are really only used in specific instances.

I've heard that there might be a name diminutive used primarily when you're mad at someone (misbehaving children?) or names for when you're trying to be cute, or even ones that are just used to be grammatically correct within a certain context (i.e. Hello, <name> versus Hello, my <name>).

For the sake of simplification, let's use "Katarzyna" as the example.
Is there a short list of a few name name diminutives and some common contexts under which they apply? Under what circumstances are Kasia, Kasiulka, Kotku, Kaśka, Katarzynka(??) normally applied?


P.S. As a Latino, these things get lost on me quickly. Apologies in advance!
Marysienka 1 | 195
16 Jul 2014 #15
"Kasia" is usual way to refer to Katarzyna when she is young or a friend, it's short nice form used by anybody who is on first name basic.

"Kaśka" is augmentative not diminutive. It is often used by teenagers to show they are not young and sweet, can used be when referred to someone you don't like. Some people treat this form as usual form to refer to them, some people hate it.

Kasiulka is rarely used , either for a young child or in very close relationship,
Katarzynka is more-less like above

And kotku is not diminutive of Katarzyna, it's kitten. ( could be used like sweetheart, honey)
16 Jul 2014 #16
Thank you very much! Apologies again for my ignorance. If you have any questions about the Spanish language I'm here to help, but with regards to Polish I am worse than helpless.
30 Sep 2022 #17
Hi everyone,

thank you so much for the previous discussion. It already helped a lot. I have a more specific question: How would you form a diminutive name for "Madison"? Could you say "Madśka" or "Madczka"? Or how would you form it?
Paulina 13 | 2,925
30 Sep 2022 #18
@IvyInd, for example: "Madusia", "Maduś", "Madis".

Could you say "Madśka"

Maybe "Maduśka".


Nope. But "Madźka" would be possible, I guess.
30 Sep 2022 #19
@Paulina That is perfect! Thank you so much!
Paulina 13 | 2,925
30 Sep 2022 #20
@IvyInd, you're welcome! :)
Lyzko 37 | 8,549
1 Oct 2022 #21
Polish diminutives are also essential in cementing friendships with Poles, at least with Polish males!

I have a friend named Roman, whose buddies in Poland all know him as "Romek". A Polish cultural point is that once becoming friends with someone, calling them by their formal given name, might signal a rift between the two or might seem to one that the other is acting aloof or "uppity" towards that person.

Similarly in the States, if someone is introduced as "Thomas", normally they'll respond to "Tom" in friendly parlance and wonder why the other' person insists on being formal.
pawian 197 | 19,901
1 Oct 2022 #22
buddies in Poland all know him as "Romek".

Yes, we know him as Jolly Romek.

the otheris acting aloof or "uppity" towards that person.

Yes, one guy refuses to befriend Jolly Romek and has him ejected.

Lyzko 37 | 8,549
2 Oct 2022 #23
Thanks. However, I wasn't referring to that former PF-poster. Anyway, Jolly is German, not Polish:-)

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