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Poland in the Modern World: Beyond Martyrdom by Brian Porter-Sz̋cs

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PRONUNCIATION GUIDE

Polish names are notoriously difficult for English-speakers, but the pronunciation is not as hard as it might seem once you learn a few simple rules. To compensate (at least partially) for the unfamiliar letters, the stress of every word is on the second-to-the-last syllable. The following chart is not intended to be a precise guide, but only a rough approximation of equivalent sounds in each language. For example, there is an important difference between ś and sz, but an Anglophone can say “sh” for both and get away with it. Just don’t tell any native Polish speakers that I said so. Study this chart, and before long you’ll be reciting the infamous tongue-twister, “W Szczebrzeszynie chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie ….”

Polish English
a a as in “father”
nasalized a
c ts
ch
cz ch
nasalized e
i i as in “ski”
j y as in “yet”
ł w
ń n as in “onion” (like ñ in Spanish)
o o as in “go”
ó oo as in “boot”
rz zh
sh
sz sh
u oo as in “boot”
w v
y i as in “it”
zh
zh

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