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Much ado about Polish #3 – Let get nasal.


Although, as I mentioned in the introduction, this series is not meant to be a course in Polish as such, some discussion of the alphabet is certainly necessary and this will be a topic we will need to come back to on numerous occasions, as the orthography of Polish, when properly understood, not only enables you to pronounce what you read probably but also understand the reason why things are spelled as they are, avoid errors and also spot the history and origins of words.

Attempting Polish Ą and Ę for the first time.

Attempting Polish Ą and Ę for the first time.

Polish is written obviously with a version of the Latin alphabet but there are various adaptions for the particular needs of Polish, which includes hard and soft consonant versions for sibilants, fricatives and liquids, as well as nasal vowels.

We’ll hold back the whole sibilants and fricatives discussion for another time, and for today we’ll just address the issue of the nasal vowels.

In Polish there are two nasal vowels, arguably three but only two are shown, perhaps because o with a line under would resemble Q, but more probably because Old Slavic already had the nasals described in terms of just two, Ѫ known as big yus and Ѧ, known as little yus which in time became У and Я in Russian, as it had abandoned nasal vowels and so had little use for little yus and no major use for big yus either, but most probably there were really three in Old Slavic also.  In French people talk about three, but not to be outdone, there are those who say French has four. I always managed OK with three in French and two in Polish, I have to say. And the two you find in the Polish alphabet are namely Ąą and Ęę.

Nasality basically means there is a reduced ‘n’ after them, n being one of the letters that comes out of your nose. You can think of the little tail on these letters as a reduced n on its side and joined to the letter, and in a sense that’s a very good way of showing in an image what is going on with ą and ę. Read the rest of this entry

Much Ado About Polish #1 – A Good Day to Start.


A proper greeting can melt the ice like nothing else…

One of the first things you’ll need to do when arriving in Poland is to be able to greet people and say “hi” or “hello”. Just as in English, there are more and less formal ways of doing this, and until you’ve got your head around the idea of the different forms of “you” that there are in Polish, it is enough to say that the most common greeting “dzień dobry” meaning literally “day good” is fairly formal. Often you can follow it with “Panu” or “Pani” meaning “to you”, spoken to a man or a woman respectively, in a formal way.

This formula is good from when you get up in the morning until the evening time, usually around 6 pm (or as the Poles, like most Europeans, say: 18:00). There are not separate formats for morning, midday, afternoon, etc as in Czech, Russian or in fact most of the languages in the world. This is one of the few areas where Polish is relatively easy. Hold that thought.

“Dzień dobry” is used as a greeting when beginning an interaction with someone and not as a leave taking. The two other times of day involved in greetings are “dobry wieczór” for “good evening” and “dobranoc” for good night, which are both used in greeting and also leavetaking, by contrast.

So here, immediately, any sense that Polish might not be so difficult, begins to fly out of the window. Quite apart from the unusual spelling “cz” to make a sound like the “ch” in “church” only with the tip of the tongue turned back a bit further than we normally would unless impersonating David Attenborough, there is also the issue that an “o” with a grave accent over it – “ó” sounds like an “u”, and is indeed an “u” but one that reserves the right to turn back into an “o” again when changing to a different part of speech. So the Evening Express, or “Ekspres Wieczorny” has an adjectival ending-ny on the end but the “ó” loses its accent and is pronounced like a normal o again. This is a relic of Old Slavic differing vowel length, which endured in Polish until the Middle Ages, when it was replaced by vowels of basically identical length and a change in the vowel itself became necessary in order to differentiate what linguists call “cognitive pairs”. Read the rest of this entry

Polish Highland Music


Playout date: 12 December 2006
Duration: 10:42
Views at the time added to HTV: 39,346
Likes at the time added to HTV: 58
Dislikes at time added to HTV: 2
Popularity % ” ” ” =L/(L+D): 96.7%
Comments at time added: 10
Total interactions at time added: 70
Camera: Panasonic DMZ -FZ30
Post Production: Windows Movie Maker – medium use
Location: Karczma na Straconce near Bielsko-Biała
Other people featured: Folk Group
Genre: Environmental
Music used: Various highland Polish songs
Languages used: Polish (Góral dialect)
Animals/plants featured: None
Other remarks:

Still have fond memories of this plce and hope it is still there to be enjoyed if I manage a visit in future to Bielsko-Biala, a unique Polish town – the only one with more Protestant than Catholic churches.

This was one of the compensations of life as an auditor, going with teams of nice people to work in different locations and then having the evening to discover new places and tastes and sounds. Simply brilliant.

What a pity EU lawmakers and politicians have done so much to destroy the audit profession as an attractive route for bright young minds today.

Introducing Peter Paczek (pronounced Pontschek)!



Here we have the third persona to appear on the channel – Peter Paczek is a Polish Geordie. Apologies to anyone who thinks I sound like a mackem, but yer wrang.

The hat, by the way, is an Olney Eight-piece, in green tweed. At first I was going to use this only for the Peter Paczek character, but I ended up using it on more work, as I wore it a lot anyway in the winter. Then I lost it and bought an identical Olney Eight Piece in grey for this winter.

The poem “Drink to me only with thine eyes” is being murdered in this particular video. It is also available as a drinkning song with a melody almost like a hymn, but I haven’t performed it that way yet. Maybe one day.

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