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Lesson Transcript


Michael: How many dialects does the Polish language have?
Igor: And what are the differences?
Language in context
Michael: At PolishPod101.com, we hear these questions often. Let’s imagine the following situation. BEN LEE (@HERO-SON) sees a mysterious item on a restaurant menu in Poznań. He asks his friend WOJCIECH WIECZOREK (@COLLEGE-FRIENDM),
“What is ‘pyra’?”
BEN LEE (@HERO-SON): Co to jest ‘pyra’?
BEN LEE (@HERO-SON): Co to jest ‘pyra’?
Michael: Once more with the English translation.
BEN LEE (@HERO-SON): Co to jest ‘pyra’?
Michael: “What is ‘pyra’?”
Michael: “'Potato' in Wielkopolska.”

Lesson focus

Michael: The Polish language
Igor: Język polski
Michael: has four major dialects:
Igor: wielkopolski
Michael: “the Greater Polish dialect”,
Igor: małopolski
Michael: “the lesser Polish dialect”,
Igor: mazowiecki
Michael: “Masovian” and
Igor: śląski
Michael: “Silesian”. Some sources also identify a fifth dialect,
Igor: kaszubski
Michael: “Kashubian,” but this dialect was officially recognized as a regional language in 2005, so it is now treated as a separate language rather than as a dialect. Moreover, while the four major dialects are mutually understandable for most native speakers of Polish, Kashubian might pose a bit of a challenge. You can even choose Kashubian as a second language for the state graduation exam, known as
Igor: matura.
Michael: The four major dialects used in Greater Poland, Lesser Poland, Masovia and Silesia are further divided into many sub-dialects, or
Igor: gwara.
Michael: Each dialect has its own characteristics - for example, the Lesser Polish dialect tends to replace the sounds
Igor: "cz", "sz", "dż", "dz"
Michael: with
Igor: "c", "s", "dz", "z",
Michael: and so does the Masovian dialect, which additionally equates the letter “i” with the letter “y.” While it isn’t the case for the Lesser Polish dialect, the Greater Polish, Silesian and Masovian dialects have been heavily influenced by the German language,
Igor: język niemiecki,
Michael: and many of their dialect-specific words stem from it. There are many more differences between the dialects, but let’s focus on one particularly interesting aspect - the vocabulary.
Michael: It is not only the pronunciation and accent that differs among the major dialects; the dialects also encompass some dialect-specific vocabulary. There are even some words that are specific to certain subdialects. Let’s analyze the word “potato”. So far, you’ve learned that in Wielkopolska, also known as Greater Poland, it’s called
Igor: pyra.
Michael: What about in other dialects? In the Podhale subdialect, which belongs to the Lesser Polish dialect, potatoes are called
Igor: grula
Michael: And in Silesian, we would call a potato
Igor: kartofel.
Michael: Does the variety of dialects mean you won’t be able to communicate freely as a Polish learner? Not at all. Standard Polish is the universal tool used to communicate in Poland. Dialects and sub-dialects are most commonly used only among the elderly and in the countryside. And if you happen to not understand a certain word, don’t worry - even two native speakers from different regions of Poland might come across this problem.


Michael: Now you know a lot about Polish dialects. Do you want to know more about Polish? Be sure to download the lesson notes for this lesson at PolishPod101.com — and move onto the next lesson!

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