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Polish orthography: Wikis

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This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.
For information on early Polish orthography, see History of Polish orthography.
For assistance with phonetic transcriptions of Polish for Wikipedia articles, see WP:IPA for Polish.

The Polish alphabet is based on the Latin alphabet but uses diacritics, such as the kreska (graphically similar to an acute accent), the kropka (overdot), and the ogonek. It was the only major Slavic language written in the Latin alphabet that did not adopt a version of the Czech orthography; the latter dates back to the 14th century while the Polish script dates back as early as 1136 AD.

Upper
case
HTML
code
Lower
case
HTML
code
Usual
Phonemic value
A   a   /a/
Ą Ą ą ą /ɔ̃/
B   b   /b/
C   c   /t͡s/
Ć Ć ć ć /t͡ɕ/
D   d   /d/
E   e   /ɛ/
Ę Ę ę ę /ɛ̃/
F   f   /f/
G   g   /ɡ/
H   h   /x/
I   i   /i/
J   j   /j/
K   k   /k/
L   l   /l/
Ł Ł ł ł /w/
M   m   /m/
N   n   /n/
Ń Ń ń ń /ɲ/
O   o   /ɔ/
Ó Ó ó ó /u/
P   p   /p/
R   r   /r/
S   s   /s/
Ś Ś ś ś /ɕ/
T   t   /t/
U   u   /u/
W   w   /v/
Y   y   /ɨ/
Z   z   /z/
Ź Ź ź ź /ʑ/
Ż Ż ż ż /ʐ/

Note that Polish /ʂ/, /ʐ/, /ʈ͡ʂ/, /ɖ͡ʐ/ are laminal postalveolar and may be most accurately transcribed using the IPA retracted diacritic as [s̠], [z̠], [t͡s̠], [d͡z̠] respectively. Also note that Polish ń (transcribed here /ɲ/) is not palatal, having the same place of articulation as /ɕ/ and /ʑ/. As the IPA does not have a symbol for a nasal alveolo-palatal consonant, a more accurate representation would be [nʲ].

Polish orthography also includes seven digraphs:

Capitalized HTML
code
Lower
case
HTML
code
Phonemic
value
Ch   ch   /x/
Cz   cz   /ʈ͡ʂ/
Dz   dz   /d͡z/, /dz/
DŹ dź /d͡ʑ/, /dʑ/
DŻ dż /ɖ͡ʐ/, /dʐ/
Rz   rz   /ʐ/, /rz/
Sz   sz   /ʂ/

Although the Polish orthography is mostly morphophonemic, some sounds may be written in more than one way:

  • /x/ as either h or ch
  • /ʐ/ as either ż or rz (though denotes an /rʐ/ cluster)
  • /u/ as either u or ó
  • soft consonants are spelt either ć, , ń, ś, ź, or ci, dzi, ni, si, zi, respectively (the difference is purely orthographic: ć, ń etc. are spelt before a consonant or word-finally while ci, ni etc. are spelt before a vowel; simple c, dz, n, s, z are spelt before i.)

The consonant pair rz is very rarely read as /rz/, rather than /ʐ/, as in the words zamarzać ('to get frozen'), marznąć ('to feel cold') or in the name "Tarzan".

The pronunciation of the geminates (doubled consonants) in Polish is clearly prolonged, as in Italian. For example, the word panna (young lady) is not pronounced the same as pana ('man's'). When pronouncing a word slowly and carefully, Polish speakers articulate and release each of the two consonants separately. Gemination is therefore rather a repetition of the consonant. This includes not only native Polish words (like panna or oddech), but also loan-words (lasso, attyka). In Polish, geminates may appear in the beginning of a word, as in czczenie ('worshipping'), dżdżownica ('earth-worm'), ssak ('mammal'), wwóz ('importation'), zstąpić ('to descend'), and zza ('from behind').

See also

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