Polish ę - ą - ł

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Polish ę - ą - ł

Postby Strigo » 2004-02-11, 19:15

I have a doubt about these letters :

ę : I know that final ę is pronounced like a simple e.
And it's pronounced as a nasal e in the other cases,

(Is that nasal e similar to Portuguese e in gente?)


ą : I know it's a nasal o.
(Is it pronounced like õ in informações?)

Because I can't note nasality as I note it in Portuguese.

ł : Is it pronounced like a "u"??? What are the differences between this letter and u?
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Postby Luís » 2004-02-11, 19:47

Strigo wrote:Because I can't note nasality as I note it in Portuguese.


That's normal. Polish nasality is nothing compared to Portuguese ;)
The only thing they got are 2 nasal vowels and they're not even used all the time :) - Besides, the nasality is not as "strong" as in Portuguese.

Strigo wrote:ę : I know that final ę is pronounced like a simple e.


Yes, it sounds as plain "e" (open) at the end of a word, though I think that's colloquial speech. I've heard people pronouncing it as a nasal at the end as well, namely in tapes for learning Polish...

Strigo wrote:And it's pronounced as a nasal e in the other cases


Not quite. It's only a real nasal 'e' before f, w, s, z, sz and ż. Before l or ł it's pronounced as a regular 'e', before k and g as /EN/ (with a nasal velar), before ś, ci, dź, dzi as /EJ/ (J = ñ), before t, d, c, dz, cz as /En/ and before p and b as /Em/... The same is valid for the ą (replacing /E/ for /O/).

Strigo wrote:(Is that nasal e similar to Portuguese e in gente?)


Nope, because the Portuguese nasal vowels are always closed while the Polish ones are open, but yeah... it's similar. Portuguese is /e~/ while Polish is /E~/, more or less like in the French word 'vin'.

Strigo wrote:ą : I know it's a nasal o.
(Is it pronounced like õ in informações?)


Once again, it's a nasal open o /O~/, while in Portuguese it's /õ/. So the answer is no.

Strigo wrote:ł : Is it pronounced like a "u"??? What are the differences between this letter and u?


Not that much really. "u" is a vowel. ł is a semivowel /w/, like the 'w' in English 'what' or the 'u' in Spanish 'bueno'.
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Postby wsz » 2004-02-11, 21:00

Luis wrote:The only thing they got are 2 nasal vowels and they're not even used all the time

Generally, we tend to pronounce vowels nasally when they are followed by a nasal consonant (an M or N); so you'd find more nasal vowels in Polish :)
Luis wrote:
Strigo wrote:ł : Is it pronounced like a "u"??? What are the differences between this letter and u?
Not that much really. "u" is a vowel. ł is a semivowel /w/, like the 'w' in English 'what' or the 'u' in Spanish 'bueno'.

Sometimes, we pronounce a U as [w] (an Ł) in a few words such as 'auto', 'aukcja', 'kaucja', 'restauracja' etc.

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Postby Fenek » 2004-02-11, 21:08

Luís wrote:The only thing they got are 2 nasal vowels


Oh, come on, we're not so poor ;) , in standard Polish there are only 2 nasal vowels, but in colloquial Polish you can encounter up to 6 nasal vowels.

Luís wrote:Yes, it sounds as plain "e" (open) at the end of a word, though I think that's colloquial speech. I've heard people pronouncing it as a nasal at the end as well, namely in tapes for learning Polish...


You're right 8)
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Postby Luís » 2004-02-11, 21:11

Fenek wrote:Oh, come on, we're not so poor , in standard Polish there are only 2 nasal vowels, but in colloquial Polish you can encounter up to 6 nasal vowels.


6? Like for instance...?
Or do you mean all vowels (a, e, i, o, u, y) can be nasal in Polish? :shock: You definitely need to find me sound files for that...!
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Postby Fenek » 2004-02-11, 21:38

Luís wrote:Or do you mean all vowels (a, e, i, o, u, y) can be nasal in Polish?


Exactly.

But nasal a, i, u, and y are facultative elements of the Polish phonology. Some Poles never pronounce them. Well, when you come to Cracow, you may have opportunities to hear those nasal vowels, because people from Cracow tend to nasalize vowels (unlike people from Warsaw).

I can see you are interested. I can tell you more and record some soundclips for you, but a little bit later, if you don't mind. Or maybe wsz will be faster ;)
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Postby Luís » 2004-02-11, 21:47

Fenek wrote:I can see you are interested. I can tell you more and record some soundclips for you, but a little bit later, if you don't mind. Or maybe wsz will be faster


Sure, I'm always interested in nasal vowels ;)
It's not something very common amongst European languages (there's Portuguese, French, Polish and I can't remember of more...)
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Postby Zaduma » 2004-02-11, 22:45

"A" can be nasal (only in coloquial speech, just like Fenek says). When you say TRAMWAJ (tram), you may pronounce the AM voice just like the Portuguese "ã", same situation you have while saying WŁĄCZAĆ (to turn on), this "Ą" can be (uncorrectly, but people do it) pronounced as "ã".

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Postby Fenek » 2004-02-12, 10:35

Zaduma wrote:When you say TRAMWAJ (tram), you may pronounce the AM voice just like the Portuguese "ã", same situation you have while saying WŁĄCZAĆ (to turn on), this "Ą" can be (uncorrectly, but people do it) pronounced as "ã".


Very good examples! 8)
TRAMWAJ - I think the pronunciation [trãwaj] prevails, at least in Warsaw, [tramwaj] is rare. Do you agree, Zaduma? Both ways of pronunciation are correct.
WŁĄCZAĆ - here only [włončać] is correct, but for certain reasons I won't mention now many people pronunce this word incorrectly as [włãčać] or, since nasal vowels are likely to be denasalized before cz(č), as [włančać].
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Postby Zaduma » 2004-02-12, 11:14

Fenek wrote: Very good examples! 8) TRAMWAJ - I think the pronunciation [trãwaj] prevails, at least in Warsaw, [tramwaj] is rare. Do you agree, Zaduma? Both ways of pronunciation are correct. WŁĄCZAĆ - here only [włončać] is correct, but for certain reasons I won't mention now many people pronunce this word incorrectly as [włãčać] or, since nasal vowels are likely to be denasalized before cz(č), as [włančać].


Right, Fenek, here no-one speaks [tramwaj], this is just a simplification that exists in every language. I know that only [włončać] is correct but people often say [włãčać] (for example: [nie włãčaj radia!]) and it is funny that we pronounce it that way even if formally such fonem is not used in our language ;) Oh but please write about other rare nasal cases, I had no idea about that special nasality in Cracow!! And, don't you think, Fenek, that it is funny that our Ą is a nasal O! I think we should change [ą for nasal a, ę for nasal e -> like it is today, and analogically o with a mark over the letter...!] ...and write: trąwaj ;)

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Postby Psi-Lord » 2004-02-12, 11:33

Hi, Zaduma! I guess we haven't bumped yet. ;)

Zaduma wrote:and analogically o with a mark over the letter...!]

You mean, like Ǫ ǫ? :)
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Postby Luís » 2004-02-12, 11:37

Zaduma wrote:And, don't you think, Fenek, that it is funny that our Ą is a nasal O!


Shouldn't there be some historical or etymological reason for that?
Maybe the sound was pronounced first as a nasal 'a' and then shifted to a nasal 'o' (curiously in some regions of France people tend to pronounce nasal 'a' as nasal 'o'...)

But let's see, Slavic languages had nasal vowels at first, then they almost all lost them (with Polish keeping 2) and now Polish is getting nasal vowels back? :P

Though the importance of the nasal vowels in Polish is not as big as in French or Portuguese. As far as I know (but please enlighten me ;)), there are no words in Polish that can be distinguished only by an oposition between nasal/oral vowel (like French 'beau' and 'bon' or Portuguese 'vi' and 'vim'). Considering that I suppose that if a foreigner always pronounced ę as /E/ ą as /O/ he'd still be perfectly understood.

Now, I have a doubt. As you say you tend to nasalise the vowels that are preceded by m and n, then you have a problem :)
Unless these cases are exceptions, how do you distinguish:

Panią and Paniom
or Studentką from Studentkom

Ah, and does that only apply to where you'd usually have a nasal vowel? I mean, ę before t is pronounced /En/, so in "student", I suppose the e doesn't get nasalised, even if it's followed by an n.
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Postby Zaduma » 2004-02-12, 11:55

Luís wrote:
But let's see, Slavic languages had nasal vowels at first, then they almost all lost them (with Polish keeping 2) and now Polish is getting nasal vowels back? :P

Though the importance of the nasal vowels in Polish is not as big as in French or Portuguese. As far as I know (but please enlighten me ;)), there are no words in Polish that can be distinguished only by an oposition between nasal/oral vowel (like French 'beau' and 'bon' or Portuguese 'vi' and 'vim'). Considering that I suppose that if a foreigner always pronounced ę as /E/ ą as /O/ he'd still be perfectly understood.

Now, I have a doubt. As you say you tend to nasalise the vowels that are preceded by m and n, then you have a problem :)
Unless these cases are exceptions, how do you distinguish:

Panią and Paniom
or Studentką from Studentkom

Ah, and does that only apply to where you'd usually have a nasal vowel? I mean, ę before t is pronounced /En/, so in "student", I suppose the e doesn't get nasalised.


Nasal sounds still are in Kashubian, too. No, pronouncing e and not ę etc., that wouldn't be understood. If you say reka and not ręka (hand), someone could think you want to say rzeka (river) ;) it really would be hard to imagine what are you talking about. If you say mak and not mąk... well, mąka is a flour while mak is poppy... Mają mean they have and maja is just a declinated word maj (May)... Idą means they go while Ida is a femenine name... krecić instead of kręcić... oh in this case a Pole would start to laugh, don't you think, Fenek? (we would think rather about kret -> mole) About Polish nasality, it is quite imoportant to distinguish cases for example. People don't pronounce nasal vowels carefully so you may think they are not so impretant, but believe me, they are. There is a big differrence in pronouncing Panią nad Paniom. The second one is not nasalized at all. But you are right, people in common speech nasalize such endings sometimes. And as you say, student is not nasalized.

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Postby Luís » 2004-02-12, 12:21

Zaduma wrote:If you say reka and not ręka (hand), someone could think you want to say rzeka (river)


:shock: I think /r/ and /Z/ are different enough...
And anyway, it's supposed to be an e + nasal velar /N/ there... :wink:

Zaduma wrote:If you say mak and not mąk... well, mąka is a flour while mak is poppy... Mają mean they have and maja is just a declinated word maj (May)... Idą means they go while Ida is a femenine name...


But 'a' is not the oral counterpart of 'ą'. It's 'o'. So you'd have to make the comparison with mok, majo and ido instead, not with these words with 'a'. That's what I mean with not nasalising the vowel (making 'ą' into 'o', not into 'a' :roll: ). Anyway, these "it sounds like... it'll sound funny" doesn't make the opposition exist. Of course it's not pronounced correctly, so it'll obviously sound weird to a native, but that's not the point. What I want to know is if there is any pair of words in Polish that can only be distinguish by the fact that one has a nasal vowel and the other doesn't (one with ę, the other with e or one with ą and the other with o). And if these pairs exist if they're minimally related (because if one is an adjective in some case and the other is a noun in another case, confusion is not likely to happen). But coming back to the French and Portuguese examples, if someone says "Tu es beau" (You are handsome) it's very different from "Tu es bon" (You are good) and in Portuguese "Vi" (I saw) is very different from "Vim" (I came). You have contrast only regarding the nasality of a vowel in the first case between two adjectives in the masculine singular and in the second case between two verbs in the perfect tense for the 1st person singular. Misunderstandings here can happen. But if in Polish a noun in the accusative looks like some other in let's say the vocative, that is not as probable. That's why I say nasality is more important in the French and Portuguese languages than in Polish. Understand me? :)


Zaduma wrote:There is a big differrence in pronouncing Panią nad Paniom. The second one is not nasalized at all.


I suppose so. That makes the rules for colloquial nasalisation have a lot of exceptions, like in the case above.
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Postby Zaduma » 2004-02-12, 12:52

I understand you perfectly, but I think you don't understand me...

Just some examples:
gęsty (thick, dense) -> gesty (gestures)
lęk (fear) -> lek (medicine)
kręty (winding) -> krety (moles)
mądry (clever) -> modry (blue)
rąk (declinated ręka; hand) -> rok (year)
bąk (gadfly; spinning top; tot) -> bok (side)
dążyć (to aim at) -> dożyć (to live to see stg; to live long enough)

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Postby Luís » 2004-02-12, 13:01

Good!
Now you gave real examples ;)

But I suppose only these 2 have real nasals.

gęsty (thick, dense) -> gesty (gestures)
dążyć (to aim at) -> dożyć (to live to see stg; to live long enough)


And the last one is perfect. They're both verbs and they're both in the infinitive ;)

Now I'll start looking at Polish nasals from another perspective 8)
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Postby wsz » 2004-02-13, 14:45

Interesting is that there are some people who say that there are no nasal vowels at all and that we always pronounce [w~] instead -- after normal oral vowels :|

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Postby Luís » 2004-02-13, 15:12

Now that you mention it, the Polish ą does resemble a little bit the Portuguese ão (which is a nasal diphthong /6~w~/). If I had to say which Portuguese sound is closer to Polish ą I'd say this one, but we don't have open nasal 'o' anyway. Polish są and portuguese são (which not only look and sound alike, but mean the same) are an interesting example ;)

But since Fenek is busy maybe you could record your nasals wsz. I'd like to compare them with the Portuguese ones (specially nasal u and i) as we got them too.

I do recall having a talk about the nasal i in words like "sim" or "mim" with my Polish friend here as she could pronounce them well and distinguish them from "mi" / "si" while her German room mate couln't and would just pronounce an /m/ at the end of the words. I assumed that's because her native language is Polish and once you know how to nasalise a vowel you can nasalise anything ;) - So, I don't know if she uses it in normal speech. She's from the north (Gdańsk).
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Postby wsz » 2004-02-13, 16:03

Luis wrote:Now that you mention it, the Polish ą does resemble a little bit the Portuguese ão (which is a nasal diphthong /6~w~/). If I had to say which Portuguese sound is closer to Polish ą I'd say this one, but we don't have open nasal 'o' anyway. Polish są and portuguese são (which not only look and sound alike, but mean the same) are an interesting example ;)

Ciekawe :) I don't agree with those people mentioned in my previous post. I think that ą is indeed pronounced sometimes as [ow~], but it happens only if the speaker wants to speak a word exactly as it's written (eg bąbel [bombel], some people trying to speak 'more correctly' say [bow~bel]).

Luis wrote:But since Fenek is busy maybe you could record your nasals wsz. I'd like to compare them with the Portuguese ones (specially nasal u and i) as we got them too.

OK, I'll record my nasals :lol:

Luis wrote:I do recall having a talk about the nasal i in words like "sim" or "mim" with my Polish friend here as she could pronounce them well and distinguish them from "mi" / "si" while her German room mate couln't and would just pronounce an /m/ at the end of the words. I assumed that's because her native language is Polish and once you know how to nasalise a vowel you can nasalise anything - So, I don't know if she uses it in normal speech. She's from the north (Gdańsk).

Yes, distinguishing these two words dosn't appear difficult. Though I wouldn't be so sure that we can nasalise anything ;) :lol: But what do you mean? You don't if she uses what? Nasal vowels? Luis, you should know that we tend to pronounce words in an easy way. If it's easier for us to say nasal, we say it. If it's easier to say an M or N or just an oral vowel, we say it ;)

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Postby Luís » 2004-02-13, 16:13

wsz wrote:But what do you mean? You don't if she uses what? Nasal vowels? Luis, you should know that we tend to pronounce words in an easy way. If it's easier for us to say nasal, we say it. If it's easier to say an M or N or just an oral vowel, we say it :wink:


Yes. I don't know if she uses nasal i, u, etc when she speaks. ę and ą she uses obviously. As Fenek said it's something not everyone does and it depends on the region (I got the impression it's more common in the south...)

wsz wrote:I wouldn't be so sure that we can nasalise anything


I think one of the most difficult things for speakers of languages that don't have nasal vowels is learn how to make them. After all, controling the closing and opening of the velum to let air into the nasal cavity isn't exactly something easy I suppose :) Avataar said he hadn't practice with it so he couldn't say a nasal vowel + oral vowel + nasal vowel. All the 3 would be nasal as he couldn't open it and close it fast enough :wink:
I don't know if you can say any nasal sound, but I suppose you can make any oral vowel sound you can actually say into a nasal one, even is such a sound doesn't exist in Polish.
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