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Beata: Polish Pronunciation Series Lesson 2 – Polish Consonants and Their Shocking Number
Nick: Hi, everyone, and welcome back to the Pronunciation Series! Lesson 2 – Polish Consonants and Their Shocking Number
Beata: Cześć. Beata here.
Nick: Did you have a chance to practice the sounds from the previous lesson? I hope so, because we have more in store for you this time. Today, we will focus on Polish consonants.
Beata: Today's sounds are very easy, though.
Nick: Yes, they are not that different from English sounds, actually. Before we introduce the new sounds, let's just quickly recap what we studied in the previous lesson.
Beata: Sounds good.
Nick: How many vowels does Polish have?
Beata: There are nine vowels in the Polish language.
Nick: They are further divided into two groups…oral vowels and nasal vowels. Which ones are the oral vowels?
Beata: There are seven oral vowels in Polish, and they are "-a," "-e," "-i," "-o," "-u," "-ó," and "-y."
Nick: And which ones are the nasal vowels?
Beata: The nasal vowels are "-ą" and "-ę."
Nick: Great. In this lesson, we are going to teach you how to pronounce Polish consonants that are similar in sound to their English equivalents. Now, if you've got the lesson notes, it's probably a good idea to read them as you listen so that you can see what sounds we are talking about.
Beata: Since there are many consonants in the Polish language, we divided them based on the type of articulation used to produce the sound. We are going to start with the occlusive consonants.
Nick: We produce these consonants by blocking the air within the vocal tract, and then the airflow is either quickly released or held.
Beata: Let's listen to them.
Man: "-p," "-b," "-t," "-d," "-k," "-g"
Woman: "-p," "-b," "-t," "-d," "-k," "-g"
Beata: Great.
Nick: What we'll do is compare them to sounds in English. Okay, the first one…the letter "-p."
Beata: "-P."
Nick: "-P" is pronounced like the "-p" in words such as "pie" or "pen." Next is the letter "-b."
Beata: "-B."
Nick: "-B" is pronounced like "-b" in "beach" or "ball." Then we have the consonant "-t."
Beata: "-T."
Nick: "-T" as "-t" in "tool" or "talent." What about "-d?"
Beata: "-D."
Nick: "-D" as "-d" in "doll" or "dance." The next one is "-k."
Beata: "-K."
Nick: "-K" is pronounced like the letter "-c" in words such as "cold" or "clue." And finally, "-g?"
Beata: "-G."
Nick: English examples for "-g" would be "goat" and "great." Beata, could you repeat all of them once again?
Beata: Sure. It's "-p," "-b," "-t," "-d," "-k," and "-g."
Nick: Okay, so now let's take a look at the next group of consonants.
Beata: The next group of consonants consists actually of one sound only, and that is the consonant "-c," which in Polish is always pronounced as [c]. "-C" represents a group of so-called affricate consonants.
Nick: "-C." Do we have any English examples for this sound?
Beata: The pronunciation of the "-ts" group in words such as "coats," "eats," and "tsar" would be the closest equivalent to the Polish consonant "-c."
Nick: Could we hear some Polish words with the consonant "-c" in them?
Beata: Sure. Please repeat after me. "Cena," "moc," "koc," "nocą," "móc," "cały."
Nick: For translations of those words, please refer to the lesson notes. Let's move on to the next group of consonants. This time, we will be talking about so-called fricative consonants.
Beata: Fricative consonants are represented by the following sounds…
Man: "-f," "-w," "-s," "-z," "-h," "-ch"
Woman: "-f," "-w," "-s," "-z," "-h," "-ch"
Beata: When trying to produce these sounds, you'll notice that both your upper and lower incisors are closed, but there's still a narrow opening that allows air to escape. It reminds me of a hissing sound made by a snake, [sssssss].
Nick: Let's compare those consonants with sounds in English. It's always good to have some examples you can refer to. The first letter is "-f."
Beata: "-F."
Nick: "-F" is pronounced like "-f" in "fun" or "face." What about "-w"?
Beata: "-W" is pronounced in Polish [w].
Nick: So it's basically the English "-v." For example…"vine," "vest," or "visit." Then we have "-s."
Beata: "-S."
Nick: "-S" is pronounced like the "-s" in "soup" or "snake." Next there is the letter "-z."
Beata: "-Z."
Nick: "-Z" can be pronounced like the "-z" in words such as "zoo" or "zenith," or as the double "-s" in words such as "dissolve." And finally, we have "-h" and "-ch."
Beata: There is the same situation with the pair "-h" and "-ch" as we had with the open "-u" and closed "-ó" from the previous lesson. The consonants "-h" and "-ch" are pronounced the same as "-h"; however, depending on the spelling rules, we use one or the other.
Nick: So the pronunciation of "-h" and "-ch" is the same, [h]. They are both pronounced like the "-h" in the words "he," "half," and "hook."
Beata: That's correct.
Nick: So what's the last group of consonants?
Beata: The last group of consonants is called sonorants and is represented by the following sounds…
Man: "-m," "-n," "-l," "-r," "-j"
Woman: "-m," "-n," "-l," "-r," "-j"
Nick: This group sounded relatively easy, except for maybe the rolling "-r."
Beata: Actually, the [r] sound is not that difficult. Just try to roll your tongue a little. (laugh) For example, say the word "rower." "Rower."
Nick: "Rower." Interesting. Again, it's just practice. What about other consonants? For example, "-m?"
Beata: "-M."
Nick: "-M" is pronounced like the "-m" in "melody" or "me." Next we have "-n."
Beata: "-N."
Nick: English examples would be "nothing" and "nose." What about "-l?"
Beata: "-L."
Nick: "-L" is pronounced like the English "-l" in "love" or "leg." And finally, we have "-j," which sounds very different in Polish, right?
Beata: "-J" is definitely pronounced differently in Polish. It's [j].
Nick: It sounds to me like the English "-y" in words such as "yoke" or "yellow."
Beata: Very good examples.
Nick: Are there any other consonants to cover in today's lesson?
Beata: I would like to mention quickly that some Polish words will have clusters of two identical consonants in them. For example, the word "lekki" with a double "-k."
Nick: Like this? "Lekki."
Beata: Yes. Make sure to pronounce both of those "-k's" because otherwise the meaning of a word can be changed entirely. Let's use the same example "lekki" vs. "leki." "Lekki" with double "-k" means "light," whereas the word "leki" with one "-k" means "medicine."
Nick: That's a great tip for our listeners. Okay, so in this lesson, we have covered Polish consonants that sound very much like their English equivalents. We still have one more lesson to go before we can say that we've covered all of the sounds in Polish, right?
Beata: That's correct. Our next lesson will be about consonants that are unique to the Polish language.
Nick: I can imagine we're going to have a lot of fun with them. (laugh) Well, thanks for joining us today, everyone!
Beata: So stop by Polish Pod101.com and pick up the lesson notes.
Nick: It has the conversation transcript
Beata: ...vocabulary, sample sentences, a grammar explanation,
Nick: ...and a cultural insight section.
Beata: Seeing the Polish...
Nick: really helps you remember faster.
Beata: But don't take our word for it. Please have a look for yourself!
Nick: And let us know what you think!
Beata: "Cześć."
Nick: Bye.