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Polish pronounciation of: cz vs ć/ci, sz vs ś/si, ź vs ż and dż vs dź/dzi - how to make these sound different?



ImlearningPolis    
25 Oct 2015  #1

I'm wondering how to make these sound different? I'm an English person who has just started learning Polish due to my girlfriend being Polish.

I can hear for the softer sounds that my tongue should be touching the lower part of the mouth as if i'm about to say 'j' but how do i do the 'harder' sounds like cz or sz? Does my tongue need to be on the 'ceiling' part of my mouth for these stronger sounds?


kpc21 1 | 763    
25 Oct 2015  #2

I am a native Pole and I have tested it :) When I pronounce "cz", my tongue doesn't stay at the "ceiling", like in case of "ć", but it moves in the direction of the teeth. In case of "sz", it hangs somewhere in the middle, at some distance from the teeth.

When you are English, it should be easy for you to pronounce "cz" and "sz", it's like "ch" and "sh" in English.
OP ImlearningPolis    
25 Oct 2015  #4

@kpc21 Thank you, it makes sense now, it's hard to find anything about this on the internet
@Chemikiem I've watched the first few of your videos and although helpful, it doesn't answer this question.
Lyzko 17 | 3,654    
25 Oct 2015  #5

cz = tch

ć = tongue gently touching roof of mouth
ci = nearly same as above

sz = sh (only a bit more distinctly, closer to British RP than American!)

ś = tongue pursed next to front teeth
si = nearly indistinguishable from the "ś"

ź = an almost pure velar, i.e. "voiced" consonant buzzing or vibrating against the glottis
ż = front teeth clenched and little release of air

dż = somewhere between the latter and and a velar!
dź = tongue touches front teeth ever so gently while glottis vibrates
dzi = closer here to a full dental

I'm not a native Polish speaker, but have studied Slavic phonology as a linguistics student and read copiously on the subject:-)
kpc21 1 | 763    
26 Oct 2015  #6

You don't have to be so perfect.

Hardly any Pole can pronounce correctly the English "th" and it doesn't make any problem for talking in English and being understood.

"ci" is in fact "ći" in terms of pronounciation. That's all. The same with "si", "zi" and so on.
Lyzko 17 | 3,654    
26 Oct 2015  #7

Usually, although many times non-native speakers of the second language they're speaking use poor pronunciation as a crutch for inability to produce the sound correctly! Hardly any Poles uses the definite or indefinite article correctly either, yet, as I hope you all know, there's a heck of a difference in English between "in office" (być urzędnikiem) vs. "in THE office" (w biurze) etc..

True, nobody likes a Mr./Ms. Know-it-all, but at the same time, nobody likes an ignoramus:-)
ImlearninPolish 1 | 1    
26 Oct 2015  #8

@Lyzko Thanks, this is precisely what i was asking for.

Anyway to learn the alveolar trill? It's not a sound I've been able to do, even whilst I was learning Finnish which also uses this sound I have never been able to do it properly...
Lyzko 17 | 3,654    
26 Oct 2015  #9

Some Polish native speakers however, e.g. Mr. Tusk, pronounce an odd-sounding uvular 'r', suggesting perhaps a regional influence.
But yes, the average Pole knows ONLY the tongue-flap "r", as in Spanish, Italian, Finnish and certain dialects of German, namely, Bavarian some Austrian varieties:-)
Ziemowit 8 | 2,593    
26 Oct 2015  #10

ś = tongue pursed next to front teeth
si = nearly indistinguishable from the "ś"

'Ś' and 'si' are exactly the same (except when 'si' is specially marked in the dictionaries as in the case of the word 'silos'' for example). This is only the matter of writing convention. The letter 'i' following the 's' tells you: soften the pronounciation of the preceding consonant 's' into the soft consonant 'ś': siedzieć, siać, siwy [śedzieć, śać, śiwy].

You don't even pronounce 'i' after 's' (except when 'i' is followed directly by a consonant like in 'siwy'), it is the mark of softness only. The same rule applies to: ć/ci, ź/zi, dż/dzi.

The letter 'i' dis not needed as a mark of softness when the sound 'ś' is followed by a consonant or is in the final position: ślizg, święto, pośrednio, ktoś. We use then the letter 'ś' on its own.
kpc21 1 | 763    
26 Oct 2015  #11

You don't even pronounce 'i' after 's' (except when 'i' is followed directly by a consonant like in 'siwy'), it is the mark of softness only. The same rule applies to: ć/ci, ź/zi, dż/dzi.

Regardless of whether you want to pronounce this "i", or not (when there is a vowel after it), the effect is virtually the same. Even if you don't want to pronounce this "i", it appears there somehow automatically.

It's different when there is a cosonant after, then "śwy", if such a word existed, would be pronounced differently from "siwy". Examples of such two really existing words also exist, but the only one I can think of for now is quite vulgar (both words, of course, with different meaning).
Lyzko 17 | 3,654    
26 Oct 2015  #12

Therefore, you're saying words like "siły" etc. for instance, written without "ś" but pronounced "sheewuy" fall under an 'exception' to the (unwritten) rule?

My specialty is Germanic, not Slavic phonology, but I've a modest to conversant familiarity with Polish phonetics:-)
kpc21 1 | 763    
26 Oct 2015  #13

Śły (if such a word existed - it doesn't) and siły have different pronounciation. It's pronounced "śiły". An exception for this is for example "silos", generally, some words which came from foreign languages.
Lyzko 17 | 3,654    
26 Oct 2015  #14

Aha! Of course, as in most languages, foreign imports are usually the exceptions:-)
Thanks.

I also believe to have read in some Polish grammar, that certain combinations, for instance "ćd" etc. are not possible, i.e. that the extent of consonant groupings is NOT limitless:-)
kpc21 1 | 763    
26 Oct 2015  #15

It's not impossible in Polish, but it's a bit difficult to pronounce - two "hard" cosonants one after another. I don't think there are words with such a connection. "śł" also rather doesn't exist in practice.

In terms of foreign exceptions, there is not so many of them in Polish, this language likes to adapt foreign words to its own rules.

In the past, in the beginnings of football (soccer), Polish newspapers were calling a football match "match footballowy". Now the only proper spelling is "mecz futbolowy", not to mention, that the adjective "futbolowy" is not too popular these times, one would write rather "mecz piłkarski" (when you say "piłka" as a name of sport, it's by default "piłka nożna", so football/soccer), or, most likely, just "mecz" - again, the "default" sport in Polish language is always soccer. Of course, unless you know from the context that it's basketball, volleyball or whatever else.

From some modern things - among the young people, when someone or something is getting a lot of bad comments, not necessarily on the Internet and social networks (although it came from there), what it "gets" is called now "hejt", from English "hate". A fact of clicking "Like", "Thumb's up" or a similar button in a social network is called "lajk" from English "like".
Lyzko 17 | 3,654    
26 Oct 2015  #16

"Hard" vs. "soft", aka "hard"-/"soft"-stemmed consonants, seems indeed a phenomenon of the Slavonic languages, in particular Russian, Ukrainian and Polish! While Russian has those palatalized suckers in words like 'brat' ' and 'dver', Polish I found many times easier to pronounce than either Ukrainian or Russian (contrary to what some idiots have said that Ukrainian is really just Polish with a Russian accentLOL).
Ziemowit 8 | 2,593    
27 Oct 2015  #17

While Russian has those palatalized suckers in words like 'brat' ' and 'dver', Polish I found many times easier to pronounce than either Ukrainian or Russian

In Polish you once also had the soft r' or the soft w' in the final position of the word. The trace of the final soft w' still exist in declensions, for example you have:

Wrocław --> we Wrocławiu, but
Kraków --> w Krakowie
This is because the w at the end of the name Wrocław was once pronounced softly as for example in the Russian word кровь (krov').

Of course, you still have the soft w' in the beginning or in the middle of the word like in 'wierzyć' or 'kwiecień'.
Lyzko 17 | 3,654    
27 Oct 2015  #18

Precisely with the latter I had to struggle somewhat in the beginning:-)

We Wrocławiu
W Warszawie

etc...
kpc21 1 | 763    
27 Oct 2015  #19

In the first one, if you used "w" instead of "we", you would have three cosonants one after another, including first two exactly the same. The same is "we wtorek", but "w środę", "w czwartek", although there are people in Poland saying "we środę", "we czwartek". It may be a regional thing, I don't know.
Lyzko 17 | 3,654    
27 Oct 2015  #20

I'm following Pan Profesor Szober on that one:-)
Ziemowit 8 | 2,593    
27 Oct 2015  #21

"We środę" is only said by some old peasants around Warsaw, "we Wiedniu" is said by some old people in Kraków who still believe Franz Joseph is alive and well. The rest don't care about what Profesor Szober thinks and neither do I !

Who the hell is Profesor Szober?
Lyzko 17 | 3,654    
27 Oct 2015  #22

S.Szober - "Gramatyka języka polskiego" PIN Wydawnictwo (1995)

A wealth, a veritable Chinese box of essential info. about Polish grammar for both foreigners as well as native speakers!
Wouldn't be without it:-)

I should add, he has an exhaustive intro.section on phonetics and orthography:-)
Bejma    
12 Feb 2017  #23

Having heard it spoken correctly (as well as incorrect "Hamtramck Polish") for many years, then later, taking Polish in college, my read on this is as follows: ć or ci has the tongue up against the mid palate, much like chair but harder up on the palate; cz has tongue more in mid level and is more "airy" more like "chuckle;" si or ś is like the sh- sound in English, but slightly harder - tongue firmer up against the palate; sz is more like cz in that the mid-tongue is held down off the palate and has an airy quality to it, much like "should." Ź vs Ż has no English counterpart that I'm aware of. Again, the Ź has the tongue up on the palate, the Ż has the tongue down (cupped in fact) and both are airy. With a D in front, Dź or "dzi" is like a "g" in gentry (tongue up softly to the palate), but Dź is has the cupped lowered mid-tongue, like you're going to say "gentry" but it comes out airy with a softened "g" that doesn't even sound much like a "g." "rz" sounds like ż, but sometimes there is liason with a preceding word ending in a vowel, in that case, "r" slightly sounded. Ł is like the "w" in wobble, not like the "w" in wagon (look in a mirror at the difference in the shape of your lips between those two pronunciations of English "w").
Lyzko 17 | 3,654    
14 Feb 2017  #24

"Leisure" pronounced correctly "leZHur" may come close to a cross between "Ź" and "Ż" in (American) standard English, at any rate:-)
Ziemowit 8 | 2,593    
14 Feb 2017  #25

"rz" sounds like ż, but sometimes there is liason with a preceding word ending in a vowel, in that case, "r" slightly sounded.

This sounds interesting. Can you give one or two examples illustrating this?
NoToForeigners 7 | 857    
14 Feb 2017  #26

@Ziemowit
Yeah. Never heard "r" in "rz". You can hear "r" when it's "rż" or in an exception in "marznąć".
Lyzko 17 | 3,654    
14 Feb 2017  #27

Though in "marznąć" there's neither a "ź" nor a "ż"-sound either:-) The "r" however is elided in words such as "gorzy", "górze" etc.
BohdanBazooka - | 24    
16 Feb 2017  #28

"Marznąć" and its derivatives (zamarznąć, zmarznięty, etc.) are actually one of few exceptions where "rz" is pronounced as two sounds ("r-z") rather than ⟨ż⟩. The only other examples I can think of on the spot are: Tarzan (although elder people from the pre-war generation sometimes try to pronounce it as "Tażan") or Murzasichle - a village in Podhale.
Ziemowit 8 | 2,593    
16 Feb 2017  #29

other examples I can think of

where r belongs to the prefix preceding a word starting with z:

cyberzwierzątko, hiperzespolony, hiperzwolennik, superzabawa, superzbiornikowiec

also in: erzac, mirza, murza
Lyzko 17 | 3,654    
16 Feb 2017  #30

Similarly, "gorzy" and "górze" sound like "gawzhuh", resp. "guuhzheh", both without audible "r-" sound whatsoever:-)




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