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I know, right! I am so used to Polandball that it is even unusual for me to see the actual non-inverted Polish flag on this site :P
It's a nasal vowel! You can hear a recording of just this letter at http://mowicpopolsku.com/polish-alphabet-pronunciation/ :)
For some reason Windows explorer keeps closing that particular webpage. I tried going to the main site and I can, but then if I go to the Alphabet page from there, I still get the same problem. I did find this: http://forvo.com/search/%22M%c4%99%c5%bcczyzna/
męż + czy + zna: the first one comes from old Polish mąż, now only meaning husband; the second is the same particle czy that starts a question or the conjunction 'whether'; the third one means "knows".
mężczyzna = husband + whether + knows = whether the husband knows :-) This is the question!
Can someone explain the 'zcz' part? To an English or German brain it sounds like the letters 'sht' 'scht'. Is zcz all one sound or is it two sounds? And if it's two sounds, are they 'sh' and 't', and does zc make the first sound and z make the second? Or does z make the first sound and cz the second? Sorry, just so confused, just trying to understand... :P :P
Why does the plural have a diacritical mark over the second "z" and the singular does not?
The -i ending causes palatalisation of the preceding consonant cluster.
That means that the z sound turns into a ź sound and the n sound into a ń sound.
ń before an i sound is written ni, so the n doesn't change its written form even as it changes pronunciation, but the ź sound has to be written like that (not like zi as it would be before a vowel) since it is followed by a consonant.
Are the Z with a dot and the Z with a dash on top pronounced differently?
Yes. For example, żali (się) "he complains" and ziali "they breathed" sound different to a Pole. (Remember that zia is pronounced like źa.)
They represent sounds that don't exist exactly in English, though, which is why most English speakers hear them as "the same sound": the "zh" sound as in "vision" or "measure".