"Mężczyźni mają wodę."

Translation:The men have water.

January 4, 2016

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What is the difference in pronunciation between the ż and ź?

  • 1095

The same as between sz and ś, or cz and ć, or dż and dź.

ż, sz, cz, dż are retroflex: the tip of the tongue touches (or almost touches) just behind the alveolar ridge. If you speak Russian, it's like ш/ж. If you speak Chinese, it's almost (but not quite) like sh/ch/zh/r. If you speak Swedish, it's almost like rs in most dialects.

ź, ś, ć, dź are alveopalatal: the middle of the tongue touches (or almost touches) a bit before the middle of the hard palate. A similar position to the one used with Polish j/English y. If you speak Russian, it's almost like ч/щ. If you speak Chinese, it's like x/q/j. If you speak Japanese, it's like ch/sh/j.

In contrast, English sh, ch, j are alveolar: the point before the middle of the tongue touches (or almost touches) the alveolar ridge. This is also the sound of German sch, French ch/j, Ukrainian ш/ч/ж and so on. For Polish speakers, those English consonants sound in between retroflex and alveopalatal, although the tongue position doesn't reflect that. When a Polish speaker wants to pretend to speak Polish with a foreign accent, switching to those consonants is a good start – conversely, those consonants are an almost sure tell you're a foreign speaker.

You can find sound clips online, on Wikipedia, Forvo or Youtube, or you can use Google Translate's or Ivona's online text-to-speech tools to learn to hear the difference.


So do you think it's accurate to say that we don't need to worry about these subtle differences right now?

After all, speakers of a new language almost always have an accent, at least in the beginning, right?

Maybe that final perfection can be learned from an accent coach (or simply talking to native speakers)?


i've tried to recreate the sounds by doing this

>the tip of the tongue touches (or almost touches) just behind the alveolar ridge.

and this

>the middle of the tongue touches (or almost touches) a bit before the middle of the hard palate.

but i don't actually hear a difference


Bear in mind that, since birth your brain has been trained to hear your native language and you will hear what your brain expects to hear, not necessarily the sound being made. The brain will adjust an unexpected sound to the closest sound it is trained to recognise. So, when you 'hear' sounds that don't exist in your native language, like 'cz', or 'rz', then your brain will make a 'best guess' approximation to a similar sound that it knows and you simply can't hear the difference. It's takes a fair bit of hard listening to train the brain to hear the difference. Try getting someone you know who's English isn't native (or very good) to hear/say the difference between the vowel sounds in ship / sheep, or rather more problematically between 'can't' and a vulgar word for female genitalia. It may be this sort of thing. Also, try to feel the difference with your tongue and mouth, rather than hear them. Whereabouts in the mouth is your tongue, what is the position of tour lips, is it a guttural sound or not?


We don't have Ż, CZ, SZ, in English. That's why it's difficult. We have only Ź (zh), Ć (ch), and Ś (sh). Think of the former as harder versions of the latter.


As a polish native speaker I can say that to find similar sounds in English will be very hard as both z sounds r very different. The closest you can compare ż with that it has a heavy sound comparing to the other z. It will produce a sh sounds from a world like : SHap but don't say the sh the way you would with your normal accent. the sh sound is sharp and your tounge touches the top of your mouth while your top and bottom teeth are touching. WHILE the other ź has a sounds similar to the American way of pronouncing zebra. It kinda of goes of with a zii but not fully and your mouth is in a shape as if you would be smiling. But its better to listen to someone pronounce the ź as its hard to replicate with a English word. Hope this helps.


Ź is not źebra in English! That would be zhebra. In Polish letters it's more like zjibra. Z is the same for Polish and English. Ź is "zh" in English. As far as Ż, for an English speaker, the tongue goes in the position for English R but instead says "zh"/Ź in that position, and you get Ż/"rz"


If you have a capital letter in the beginning, albeit proper, doesnt allow my brain to find the correct word. As the capital already tells me its at the beginning of the sentence.


That's a really good point and one of the reasons I use Duolingo only in browser instead of getting the app.


i would ask why the water is woda but when is used in a sentence like 'i drink water' it transforms to wode. isnt it the same exact object?Though the subject refers to the learning of maja i keep on. ANy difference when we wanna say 'we swim in water'? again is called wode?


It's all about noun cases. Woda is nominative case when it's the subject. When you drink it, it's in accusative case wodę. When you swim in it, it's in locative case wodzie https://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/woda Here's a declension table with all its cases


Ohh very much thanks for the explanation and the link even though i find it a bit hard to translate the english grammar to my own lang (greek) so to understand the full meaning of the cases listed in the link. Sadly there is not direct Greek to polish lesson in duolingo and i took the english-polish one :(


Я так і пишу


Maybe the men have a water??????????


That's not incorrect, but it's based on context and doesn't directly translate. "A water" usually means a bottle of water or a glass of water. In Polish that would likely be "jedną wodę" or "butelkę wody" or the like. Water is a mass noun like sand or rice. You usually don't say "a sand" or "a rice," again unless you're ordering one portion of rice at a restaurant.

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