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The Polish Language

Polish is a Slavic language with the unusual feature of using the Latin alphabet. This makes it a good halfway house for someone whose native language also uses the Latin alphabet. A lot of Polish words look very intimidating, with sequences of seemingly unpronounceable consonants. However, the written language is highly phonetic, and once you get to know the sounds of the various letter combinations, pronunciation turns out to be mostly straightforward.
compton, 14 September 08
Updated 12 August 12
The Polish language is primarily spoken in Poland, where 97% of inhabitants declare it to be their first language. Additionally, several countries of the former USSR eastern bloc have significant minorities whose first language is Polish, most notably Lithuania and Ukraine, making it the most widely spoken Slavic language after Russian.

Polish orthography (i.e. the system of writing) uses the Latin alphabet in combination with a handful of accents. Many of the unaccented letters have similar pronunciations to English. The following table lists the exceptions:

CTS
JEE
WV

The most common accents are kreska (looks like the acute accent used in French) and ogonek (similar in appearance to the cedilla used in French to make a hard 'C' soft). Ogonek is used on 'A' and 'E', while kreska may appear on 'C', 'N', 'O', 'S', and 'Z'. 'Z' can also appear with a dot over the top, known as a kropka, and 'L' may have a dash through it. Pronunciation as below:

ĆTCH
ŚSH
ŹDJ
Ż
ŁW
ÓOOH
Ń
ĄAH
ĘEH


The following guide was taken from this web site:

AA as in father
ąNasal as the ON in the French BON
BSame as English, except a final B is unvoiced (sounds like P)
Cas English TS (even when it begins a word)
ćsoft English CH sound
DSame as English (final unvoiced D sounds like T)
Eas in pet
ęNasal, almost like EN in TEN, but, same as e in pet when it is the final letter of a word
Fsame as English
GAlways a hard G as in get (final G is unvoiced as K)
HSame as English
Ias the I in machine
Jas English Y as in yellow
Kas in English
Las in English
łas English W
Mas in English
Nas in English
ńas Spanish N/tilde as in English "NI" in onion
Oas the O in the English word FOR. NEVER pronounced "OH" as in Ohio
óas the oo in English FOOT, NOT as as the oo in English BOOT
Pas in English
QThere is no Q in the Polish alphabet!
RRoll your R's like Spanish or Scottish
Sas English soft SSSS, never as Z
śsoft sh sound
Tas in English
Usame as O/acute, as the oo in English FOOT, NOT as as the oo in English BOOT
VNo V in the Polish alphabet!
Was English V (final V is unvoiced as F)
XNo X! Only found in foreign words
YAlways used as a vowel, sounds like the i in IT. NEVER as "eeeee", NOT even at the end of a word.
Zas in English
ź(z with accute accent) soft zh like Zhivago
ż(z with a dot over it) harder zh sound
CHSame as H in English
CZHard CH sound as in CHURCH
DZas in English "reD Zone", but....
DZIDZ followed by an I is pronounced as J in "Jeep", that's why "Dziekuje" is pronounced "JEN koo yeh"
RZSame hard zh as Z/dot (do not pronounce the R)(final RZ is unvoiced as SH)
SZHard SH sound
SZCZcombination of both as the SHCH in "Fresh cheese"


There are no articles in Polish (i.e. the or a), nor are there pronouns - except when addressing someone politely, when pan is used for 'you', or pani if you are talking to a woman.