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Usage rules of ł in the Polish language


chaza 50 | 253
21 Dec 2009  #1
i am aware that the letter ł is pronounced the same as the w, but what are the rules for its usage, when and where is it sounded, can anyone assist me please. examples would be nice, I know that głowa is gwova, ładny is wadny, but how is this letter used in longer words.

thanks

chaza
Sildar - | 34
21 Dec 2009  #2
It is not pronounced the same.
the letter ł is appearing in words that simply contain that letter, if I only have a time and working microphone i would rec it for you so you could hear that w nad ł are not the same at all.

It first occured in XIV century i think, don't remember why.
delphiandomine 83 | 17,690
21 Dec 2009  #3
so you could hear that w nad ł are not the same at all.

I think he means the English w is the same as ł, not that the Polish ł and w are the same...

I think?
jonni 16 | 2,485
21 Dec 2009  #4
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.

Very old people sometimes pronounce it in this way - I rather like the sound.
OP chaza 50 | 253
21 Dec 2009  #5
i understand that, i am a bit uncklear as to when i sound the letter within a word, or do i sound the letter in every word. its a bit like some letters in english are not sounded, is that the same with this letter.

as i said, głowa is sounded gwova,
ładny is sounded wadny, are the rules such that this letter is always sounded.

thanks
jump_bunny 5 | 237
21 Dec 2009  #6
Very old people sometimes pronounce it in this way - I rather like the sound.

We now have phonemes /ł/ and /l/ rather than dark /l/ ,that used to be a veralised seperate speech sound, and clear /l/ which are both lateral approximants. We no longer use dark /l/ however, in British English, we distinguish those two quite easily: dark /l/ is used as words' final after a vowel and before a consonant, e.g. [bill], [help]. Clear /l/ is used before vowels and before a semivowel /j/, e.g. [leave], [blow], [silly]. Additionally, dark /l/ is also commonly used in American English, pretty much all the time I think.
jonni 16 | 2,485
21 Dec 2009  #7
jump_bunny

Yes, that is the case. Have you heard how a very old (but posh) person from the east of Poland pronounces it?

A lovely sound.
jump_bunny 5 | 237
21 Dec 2009  #8
Have you heard how a very old (but posh) person from the east of Poland pronounces it?

Unfortunately not however, my Phonology teacher likes to imitate that sound which I find really quite interesting!

This is also relatively easy to notice when listening an English native speaker pronouncing the word 'lull' - first /l/ is clear and second /l/ is dark.
mafketis 20 | 7,348
21 Dec 2009  #9
It always sounds like English w.

But it can occur around sounds that the English w can't, as in robił, English w can't appear after the ee sound at the end of a word, to get it right say ee (as in see) followed by a very short oo (as in too) sound.

It occasionally isn't pronounced in colloquial speech.

Between consonants jabłko (usually pronounced as if written japko)

At the end of a word after a consonant as in poszedł (usually pronounced as if written poszet)

The ł can be pronounced in those words but it sounds very formal and most people don't bother most of the time. If it's pronounced it sounds a lot like a very short, unaccented oo sound.

jabłko (YAH-boo-koh) poszedł (POH-she-doo).
SzwedwPolsce 11 | 1,595
21 Dec 2009  #10
In Polish all sounds in a word are usually pronounced. And all letters/combinations are pronounced the same in all words.

Of course, all rules have rare exceptions. But the rules and structures of pronunciation are much easier than in English.
OP chaza 50 | 253
22 Dec 2009  #11
thats great thank you all.

chaza
nana - | 40
22 Dec 2009  #12
If you watch a pre-war Polish film, you will hear the ł pronounced very differently.

In subway in Warsaw, the man use "dark l"- Metro Arsenalł ;)
Polonius3 1,000 | 12,448
29 Dec 2009  #13
Dec 29, 09, 22:47 - Thread attached on merging:
£ pronounced like hard 'L', not English 'W'

Anyone on board pronounce the Polish barred '£' like the hard English 'L' in lord, law or lunch, as opposed to today's common 'W' pronunciation. I understand that before hte war, only the hard £ pronouncers could be radio presenters or perform in films and the theatre. After the war you still heard that pronuncaiton (eg £apicki) in newsreels and early PRL films, but eventually the peasant pronunciation took over. In Poland I have encountered hard £ speakers along the country's eastern rim (Podlasie, Lubelszczyna, Podkarpackie).

I wonder if any younger people on PF use the hard £ as their natural, unrehearsed pronunciation.
JS08K 2 | 6
23 Jan 2010  #14
Additionally, dark /l/ is also commonly used in American English, pretty much all the time I think.

You must be right on that, I was trying to sound out your examples and I really couldn't tell the difference.

I do have question though. What is the name of the letter " ł "? To be honest I am kinda getting tired of calling it the "L with a slash through it".
Nomsense - | 38
26 Jan 2010  #15
I do have question though. What is the name of the letter " ł "? To be honest I am kinda getting tired of calling it the "L with a slash through it".

The letter "£" is called... "£". We don't have a separate name for it (like "an o with a stroke" or "a closed u" for "Ó").
strzyga 2 | 993
26 Jan 2010  #16
The letter "£" is called... "£".

pronounced a bit like "ow" in "grown"

I wonder if any younger people on PF use the hard £ as their natural, unrehearsed pronunciation.

no, practically you don't hear it anymore
skysoulmate 14 | 1,297
26 Jan 2010  #17
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 "zła"... - 0:28
..."posłuchaj"... - 0:29
..."miłość"... - 1:15
...szkoda twoich "łez"... - 1:28 and -2:16

...and here's another great example of how the hardł used to be pronunced...



£ - L with stroke

Polish
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[1], a pronunciation which is preserved in the eastern part of Poland[2] 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).[3] 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]).

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L_with_stroke
JS08K 2 | 6
27 Jan 2010  #18
pronounced a bit like "ow" in "grown"

Thank you
skysoulmate 14 | 1,297
27 Jan 2010  #19
I do have question though. What is the name of the letter " ł "?

In English £ is called - L with stroke
mafketis 20 | 7,348
27 Jan 2010  #20
By who? That sounds very awkward and unidiomatic in English imo.

A term I've heard before (by linguists) is the "barred L". I prefer that since it describes the letter better (all letters are made with strokes).
skysoulmate 14 | 1,297
27 Jan 2010  #21
You're probably correct and obviously more au fait in this matter.

I simply googled "polish L", etc. and few of the results mentioned "L with stroke" but I also saw the "barred L" option being mentioned.

To an amateur such s myself a "barred L" implies I'm getting in trouble for using the letter L... :)

/Polish_L_with_stroke
HGoshorn
11 Nov 2017  #22
I have a problem relating to the pronunciation of this character, and it's driving me nuckin' futs. I am running out of hair to rip out!

The word poczul (l with slash). I can find nothing explaining in a clear manner how that letter is sounded after an u "oo" (as in too) at the end of a word. I have found an indication it may be prounced in this case like a English "V", thus: protoov. But, I am not sure that is correct. Forvo does not have that word, frustratingly.

How is it sounded in this case?
Or, a list of several other words with the same ending might help, since one of them might crop up on Forvo.

Thank anyone who responds :)

Hello Mafektis.
Lyzko 23 | 6,665
11 Nov 2017  #23
I've heard certain Poles pronounce it as a "dark", that is, "hard" sound, others pronounce it as an English "w". Both are correct, I suppose, the former used more in stage diction, what I've found when watching older movies from the '40's.
kaprys 2 | 1,871
11 Nov 2017  #24
Polish in old films sounds odd. One of the main characteristics is how they pronounce ł -gładkie ł. It sounds snobbish and unnatural. Never ever learn how to pronounce Polish from old Polish films.

ł is usually pronounced as w in English. It's not pronounced as v in poczuł or any other word I can think of.
HGoshorn
11 Nov 2017  #25
Kaprys:
Thank you.

What is causing me difficulty is how it is sounded in that case. Is it, then, like -oo-w (as in the English w), or silent? Or, does it modify the proceeding vowel?
HGoshorn
11 Nov 2017  #26
preceding vowel, I meant. LOL.
kaprys 2 | 1,871
11 Nov 2017  #27
responsivevoice.org/text-to-speech-languages/polski-syntezator-mowy/

I'd say it's there (as w) but then again I'm just a native speaker with no experience in discussing the Polish phonetics.
HGoshorn
11 Nov 2017  #28
Thank you, Kaprys! Perfect! That site may well solve all the issues I am having trying to spell Polish words phonetically so an English-speaker reads what would be heard. Forvo has many words, but lacks many others.

Thank you.
mafketis 20 | 7,348
12 Nov 2017  #29
I am having trying to spell Polish words phonetically so an English-speaker reads what would be heard. F

Well to Polish native speakers (in careful pronunciation) the ł has four pronunciations (from a [US] English point of view).

1. like w in English (anytime it comes before a vowel)

2. like a very short 'oo' sound which doesn't count as a vowel for purposes of stress (when it occurs between consonants) so that the genitive of płeć (biological sex) is płci which sounds to an English speaker like pooCHEE

3. it's completely dropped (following a consonant at the end of a word, as in poszedł (POH-shet) or between consonants when it's not the first syllable like jabłko (YAHP-ko) it very careful pronunciation it might occur as the short 'oo' sound but this is not necessary most of the time and some consider it to be an over-correction

4. like a w off-glide (linguistic terminology). after a vowel at the end of a word or before a consonant. so that ał sounds like ow in now for example. Here, it's important to note that English speakers won't hear a difference between English 'no!' and Polish no (meaning 'well' among other things). But Polish speakers hear the difference. The English word 'no' sounds like noł to Polish speakers similarly English speakers can't hear a difference between final -u and ół in Polish but Polish speakers usually do.
Lyzko 23 | 6,665
12 Nov 2017  #30
I learned to always pronounce it as a gliding "w"-sound, particularly as a foreigner. Some from Zakopane and Southern Poland have what amounts to a labial "l", to my non-Polish ears anyway:-)


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