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Polish "R"s

I just wanted to know how important and big of a deal is the rolled 'r' in Polish. Must it be like the Spanish 'r'?

Most of the time, I do the "French 'r'", when the sound comes from the throat. My parents told me it was no big deal, saying that mother's grandpa, my great-grandpa, grew up in the German partition of Poland: He'd speak German on a daily basis, but spoke Polish at home. So despite speaking fluently Polish, he always had that German 'r', coming from the throat. That's why my mom says that I sound just like him when I speak :)

I'm still practicing my rolled "r"s, hoping to sound more 'fluent'.

July 27, 2016



Just a quick advice: you can go to forvo, or some other pronounciation website and compare English "rover" as in "Land Rover" and "rower" as Polish for "bicycle". I believe that may be helpful in practicing.


I had success with a couple of exercises. One was repeating 'tee-dee-vaa' to loosen up my tongue, then I would repeat the phrase 'vision dream'. With this second phrase I'd say 'visionnnnn', holding the last sound and increasing volume. Then, before I ran out of breath, I'd force out the 'dream'. After a while (perhaps two weeks) the r in dream was rolling. I'd practice once each day, usually while under the shower. I found the exercises on Wikihow.

It's not a problem if you can't roll the r's. My Polish friends thought it was rather cute.


Even in Spanish it's not a huge deal. I mean it's not ideal but you can still be understood, so I wouldn't worry about it. Think about it. When foreigners can't pronounce our R or the TH sound you can still easily understand them, right?


I mean in one way it's true that it doesn't hinder understanding, but on the other hand people will be more likely to associate (possibly negative) cultural references to your own persona solely because it does give you an accent that's easily recognizable.

I mean if you take people who speak English with a heavy Mexican accent, whether you want it or not most people do associate some (potentially negative) traits to them just because of their accent, and the same thing happens to gringos (no offence) or Britts or [whatever monoglot foreigners with a recognizable accent] here in Europe who try to speak the local lingo, and unfortunately in a lot of situations get smirked and sneered at, and get answered back in pristine English.

There are lots of videos on youtube that teach you to make a rolled "r". Try to practice more, and you'll see it's not that hard :-)


As a native I can just say that we're really impressed if any foreigner puts an effort to learn Polish. It's not such a big deal. As long as we can understand what you're saying no one is going to pay attention to the accent. Actually, those accents are usually funny so it's easier to make people like you. We have few celebrieties that are recognizable by the way they speak. For example here is French guy, who had his own cooking tv show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_ST-D9KqwM


Oh that's very nice, I'm a Portuguese speaker and we do have a trilled r but ours is kinda softer, so I have to put more effort to trill it in Polish, it even get exagerated hahaha , I'm gonna record a music cover in Polish and I'm more calm to know that Polish people appreciate when foreigners are speaking it


Rolling your "r" does make you sound more fluent, which means you'll be better understood by native speakers, but the different "r" sounds are close enough so if you can't roll your "r"s, they can still understand you. Even in Spanish, if you can't pronounce "perro" (with the rolled "r") and you make it sound like "pero" (without the rolled "r"), native speakers can still understand and guess what you mean (since one word is "dog" and the other is "but"; they look at how the word is used and the context of the conversation).

I would encourage practicing the rolled "r" sound, but if you just can't quite do it then it's not a huge deal, especially since Polish has only that one "r" sound and doesn't really differentiate other "r" sounds.


I agree with others, that if you don't pronounce the 'r' correctly, you may sometimes be looked down on, unfortunately. Polish people can be quite mean sometimes:). But the good thing is, the 'worst r' in Poland would be the American one - French 'r' is not that bad, because some people in Poland have speech impediment and sound a bit like the French 'r' - my father had that; former Polish Prime Minister also had an issue with his 'r' - you can listen here for example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKCRtWMZn8I

So don't worry too much about that! :)


I was wondering that too since i cannot say R properly, i never learned to. In my native language we roll R and I can roll it too, it just comes from the throat. And polish friend of mine keeps saying i should learn the proper R but i've taken lessons even, didnt help. He says it sounds somewhat weird but it's understandable. So i'm not quite sure how big deal "wrong" R is.


OK so I've had this question too. In choir you're supposed to roll your r's, but my teacher told me that a soft d sound is close enough if you have trouble with it. Most of the time I can't roll my r's properly so I just use the soft d sound when pronouncing the words to myself. It's mostly out of habit. Is this legal? Am I allowed to do that??

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