Polish pronunciation question

What is the difference in pronunciation between "ś" and "sz"?

August 30, 2018


You can listen to the pronunciation and see the way of articulation here:

August 30, 2018

This is Polish ś/si [ ɕ ] and sz [ ʂ ] - and this is English sh [ ʃ ]

This is Polish ź/zi [ ʑ ] and rz/ż [ ʐ ] - and this is English si in vision [ ʒ ]

It's written in Features how to properly arrange the tongue.

  • We read ci, dzi, ni, si, zi before the vowel the same as ć, dź, ś, ź before the consonant or ń at the end of the word, e.g.:
    • cień / ćma
    • dzień / dźwig
    • niebo / broń
    • sień / śnieg
    • ziele / źle
  • It's spelling rule that we write i before vowels.
September 6, 2018

I suppose this kinda applies to "ż" and "zi" as well.

August 30, 2018

In general there are many consonants in Polish that come in pairs soft-hard. I'm focusing here on sounds as the same sound can be written in few ways sometimes (usually the rules strictly depend on what comes after the sound - if it is a vowel then the softening is achieved by adding -i, if another consonant it's by a diacritic if it exists or by -i in the other case).

Let's look at those pairs:

b - bi, c - ć/ci, d - di, f - fi, g - gi, h - hi (ch - chi), k - ki, l - li, m - mi, n - ń/ni, p - pi, s - ś/si, t - ti, w - wi, z - ź/zi, dz - dź/dzi,

On the other hand some of the (mostly) glyphs present a hardening of the sound - for instance:

s - sz, c - cz, dz - dż, z - rz/ż,

Now with sz it's pretty simple to explain as pretty similar sound exists in English and that's "sh". English version is not as harsh as in Polish but the type of pronunciation change from "s" is pretty much the same. For "ś" it is not as easy. I guess the closest version is in the name "Sioux" but again the change in Polish is much deeper - there is no separate s-i, but they bompletely blend together into just one sound. Examples are given by others so I will not repeat it.

One final thing to remember is that there is a trickiness of voiced/unvoiced sounds but let's leave that aside for a moment.

August 30, 2018

Wie's means village (Pronounce it in English as - vi:esh ) Wiesz means you know ( Pronounce it in English as vi:ash)

September 1, 2018
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