If you watch a pre-war Polish film, you will hear the ł pronounced very differently. In those days, ł (the so-called 'dark L') was vocalised more.
True, my grandfather (on my mom's side) would use that £ sound. I remember it sounded 'different' but nice. Of course I might have liked it simply because he was my Grandpa.
I have an old 78-gramophone record titled "Szkoda Twoich £ez, Dziewczyno
" and remember my grandfather singing along it when being playful with me grandma. He loved music, just like his dad and had many records at home - we only have a few left.
I found the very same song and the artist on youtube - my grandpa's ł
pronunciation was exactly the same as the singer's.
I highlighted a few spots of the "dark" ł
in the song.
Wow, this brought some nice memories I thought I'd forgotten...
...na mnie "zł
a"... - 0:28
uchaj"... - 0:29
ość"... - 1:15
...szkoda twoich "ł
ez"... - 1:28 and -2:16
...and here's another great example of how the hardł
used to be pronunced...£ - L with stroke
In Polish, £ is used to distinguish historical dark (velarized) L from clear L.
In 1440 Jakub Pakoszowic proposed a letter resembling to represent clear L. For dark L he suggested l with a stroke running in the opposite direction as the modern version. The latter was introduced in 1514-1515 by Stanisław Zaborowski in his Orthographia seu modus recte scribendi et legendi Polonicum idioma quam ultissimus. L with stroke originally represented avelarized alveolar lateral approximant, a pronunciation which is preserved in the eastern part of Poland and among the Polish minority in Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine.
In modern Polish, £ is normally pronounced /w/ (almost exactly as w in English as a consonant, as in were, will, firewall but not as in new or straw). This pronunciation first appeared among Polish lower classes in the 16th century. It was considered an uncultured accent by the upper classes (who pronounced £ almost exactly as: л in East Slavic languages or L in English pull) until the mid-20th century when this distinction gradually began to fade. The old pronunciation of £ is still fully understandable but is considered theatrical in most regions.
Polish £ usually corresponds to Russian unpalatalised Л in native words and grammar forms, although the pronunciation of £ and Л are different in modern Polish and Russian. Polish final £ also often corresponds to Ukrainian final/pre-consonant Cyrillic В and Belarusian Ў. Thus, "he gave" is "dał" in Polish, "дав" in Ukrainian, "даў" in Belarusian and "дал" in Russian.
The shift from [ɫ] to [w] in Polish has affected all instances of dark L, even word-initially or intervocalically, e.g. ładny ("pretty, nice") is pronounced [ˈwadnɨ], słowo ("word") is [ˈswɔvɔ], andciało ("body") is [ˈtɕawɔ].
In Polish £ often alternates with clear L, such as the plural forms of adjectives and verbs in the past tense that are associated with masculine personal nouns, e.g. mały → mali ([ˈmawɨ] →[ˈmali]). Alternation is also common in declension of nouns, e.g. from nominative to locative, tło → na tle ([twɔ] → [na'tlɛ]).