Polish Pronunciation Guide

By Dick Oakes

A a, Ą ą, B b, C c, Ć ć, D d, E e, Ę ę, F f, G g,
H h, I i, J j, K k, L l, Ł ł, M m, N n, Ń ń, O o, Ó ó, P p,
R r, S s, Ś ś, T t, U u,
W w, Y y, Z z, Ź ź, Ż ż

The Polish alphabet consists of 32 characters. The accent is always on the next-to-last syllable. Ada Dziewanowska tells us, "Because u and ó sound exactly the same, children always have problems in spelling words with those sounds."

Polish is the second most widely spoken Slavic language, after Russian and ahead of Ukrainian.

Letters not listed below are pronounced approximately as in English.

A, a  - a as in father
Ą, ą  - on, nasalized, as in the French "on"
E, e  - e as in let
Ę, ę  - eh-on, nasalized; almost like "en" in ten
I, i  - i as in machine
O, o  - o as in gone
Ó, ó  - oo as in boot (same sound as u)
U, u  - u as in duke (same sound as ó)
C, c  - c as in dance (ts)
Ć, ć  - c as in cello (ch)
D, d  - d as in dance but final d is unvoiced as t
G, g  - g as in go but final g is unvoiced as k
H, h  - ch as in loch (slightly gutteral kh)
J, j  - y as in yes
Ł, ł  - w as in wake but final w is unvoiced as f
Ń, ń  - ny as in canyon
R, r  - slightly rolled as in Spanish or Scottish
Ś, ś  - s as in sure, but softer than sugar (sh)
W, w  - v as in vote
Y, y  - y as in gypsum
Ź, ź  - z as in azure (zh)
Ż, ż  - z as in azure (but more like zzh - same sound as Rz)
Ch, ch  - ch as in loch (gutteral kh)
Cz, cz  - ch as in church
Dz, dz  - dz as in adze but j as in jewell if followed by an i
Sz, sz  - sh as in ship
Rz, rz  - z as in azure (but more like zzh - same sound as ż); like sh as in harsh after a consonant
If the letter i precedes a vowel, it is not pronounced but rather functions only as a softener.
If the letter i follows a consonant, it changes the consonant:
Bi, bi  - bee
Mi, mi  - mee
Ci, ci  - chyee (Ć ć)
Ni, ni  - ni as in onion (Ń ń)
Si, si  - shyee (Ś ś)
Zi, zi  - zyee (Ź ź)

Copyright © 2014 by Dick Oakes