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ż, ź, ɕ, t͡ɕ, ʂ: sounds substitution

Discussion in 'Polski (Polish)' started by 涼宮, Nov 21, 2011.

  1. 涼宮

    涼宮 Senior Member

    Sbaeneg/Castellano (Venezuela)
    Dobry wieczór :)

    I have a little doubt. I know that one should pronounce ż /ʐ/, ź /ʑ/, ś /ɕ/, ć /t͡ɕ/, sz /ʂ/ to speak properly Polish, but those sounds are rather unusual and not very easy to reproduce, my question is:

    As a momentary alternative, could someone pronounce ż, ź both as /z/, ś, sz as /ʃ/ and ć as /ʧ/ and be understood? Or is it mandatory to make those distinctions right?

    For instance the word cześć /ʈ͡ʂeɕt͡ɕ/ the first sound, the first sound is hard to make for me, I don't know how to put the mouth/tongue but I grasp it as a type of /ʧ/. Momentarily for a learner is it O.K to say /ʧeʃʧ/ ?:confused:


    Z góry bardzo dziękuję :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2011
  2. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    No, you cannot do that. Absolutely not. Some consonants lose their voiceness in certain positions, but nothing like that. It will be better, if somebody who is a phonology expert explains it to you, but this is totally unacceptable. These are absolutely different sounds. The best thing is listen to the sounds and try to imitate them. They are actually not that hard, only the first exposure might be overwhelming.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2011
  3. Lorenc Junior Member

    Italian
    I guess opinions vary wildely as to which mistakes are "acceptable" for a language learner... for example: is it acceptable in English to merge some of the pronunciations of bet, bat, but, burt, bart, beared, beard...?
    Clearly it would be impossible to require perfect accuracy right from the beginning. Besides, if your native language is Spanish it's no wonder you're having problems with those Polish sounds. My advice is to keep practicing, maybe by listening to recordings (audiobooks, courses) and trying to imitate what they say. Formal phonetic descriptions indicating the position of tongue, lips and mouth may or may not be useful depending on your tastes and attitude.
    For the time being, in my opinion and from a lesser-evil point of view, I think it's okay to merge sz with ś, cz with ć, ź with ż (but certaintly not with z). If that is the only major feature of your pronunciation people *will* understand you, trust me!
    As to the difference between / ʂ / [retroflex, as in Polish sz] and / ʃ / [palato-alveolar, as in English sh, French ch, Italian sc(i), etc.] (etc. for the other oppositions retroflex/palato-alveolar) I would forget about the whole thing altogether for now (and possibly forever).
    To conclude, if you're worried about your accent, I think it might be useful for you to post a short recording of yourself so that native speakers can tell you what *they* think you're not getting right.

    p.s.
    In Google Chrome I coudn't see the phonetic symbols you wrote at all, it's all fine with Internet Explorer. Maybe has something to do with the installed fonts.
     
  4. zen108 New Member

    Polish
    I totally agree with Lorenz, w hile Liliana is also right saying that these are different sounds, particularly in the word "cześć"; in fact many speakers of Polish as a second language speak /ʧeʃʧ/. S o, no worries, the substitutions are understandable, and a good point to start from.
     
  5. inter1908 Senior Member

    Zulu
    No, never substitute these sounds. They have to be learned.

    If you're good at pronouncing the languages you're learning, try this:

    for cz, use Spanish ch sound but try to say it harder, with your tongue being flat
    for ć, use your Spanish ch sound - but move your tongue a bit back and raise its end about 2-3 milimeters higher, then try to pronounce Spanish "ch".
    for sz use German sch in "Schweiz" but try to pronounce it harder and darker, with your tongue being a little higher and flatter
    for ś do the same but move your tongue a bit back and raise its end about 2-3 milimeters higher, then try to pronounce German "sch" (but modified as written above)

    for dż do the same as for cz but this time voiced
    for dź do the same as for ć but this time voiced
    for ż do the same as for sz but this time voiced
    for ź do the same as for ś but this time voiced

    Last but not least, listen to a lot native speakers, and possibly try to "get" one in your city. Search for "Dawid Snopek", an American guy who learned Polish in 4-5 years and makes 20-40 errors during a 10 minute movie! That's quite an achievement.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2011
  6. BezierCurve Senior Member

    Hi.

    If you're asking about being understood then yes, I think you'd be understood in most of the cases, provided there are no major mistakes in grammar. You can try it yourself, just post a recording so people will be able to judge themselves. Or use inter1908's advice and then try recording yourself...

    To play with those tricky sounds and to spot the difference you might use this: http://www.ivona.com/en/
     
  7. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    I absolutely agree with inter1908. You should not learn it the wrong way, because once you learn something the wrong way it is very hard to correct it. It is better to put in more effort and time and to learn it properly. It becomes a so called fossilized structure resistant to any new information.
     
  8. 涼宮

    涼宮 Senior Member

    Sbaeneg/Castellano (Venezuela)
    Thank you very much for those tips! And thanks for mentioning German, having a knowledge of several languages definitely helps to learn others :). Usually I am good at pronouncing languages, but those specific sounds are new to me. I can make the distinction when I hear them but not to reproduce them.

    That was my initial doubt. It's a relief that I can be understood and that the sounds were not a life or death situation like in Chinese if you don't use the tones properly it's like speaking anything but Chinese. Of course, I want to pronounce perfectly those sounds, I will keep practicing :)

    I know it's sort of hard to erase from our ''hard disk'' something learnt for a long time, but it's just a matter of practicing :)

    Thank you again all of you, really useful replies! :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2011
  9. ryba

    ryba Senior Member

    Hello!
    Well, slavists (as opposed to English linguists) argue that the sound corresponding to ‹sz› is not retroflex, and thus should still be transcribed as /ʃ/ and not /ʂ/. In fact, English /ʃ/ (‹sh›) is a sound half way between Polish /ʃ/ (‹sz›) and Polish / (‹ś›), knowing that should help. I would advise you against using Spanish ‹ch› /tʃ/ as a reference because of the very particular position (especially the tip of) the tongue assumes when you pronounce it (cf. http://www.uiowa.edu/~acadtech/phonetics/spanish/frameset.html). When you pronounce Polish /ʃ/ and Polish /, the tip of the tongue is nowhere as near the teeth as it is in Spanish.

    And yes, you should try to make these sounds sound different, so that your mind has them categorized as different sounds. It's purely cognitive. I remember learning the distinction between /e/ and /ε/ in Catalan, French, and Portuguese. At first, neither my /e/ nor /ε/ sounded as they should in the respective languages, but the mere fact that I kept the difference in mind and made the effort of pronouncing them differently made me finally start to know what felt right and, with time and practice, find the actual places of articulation. You'll find your Polish /ʃ/ and / too. ;)
     
  10. BezierCurve Senior Member

    I said "szszszsz" and put a finger into my mouth and felt the tongue, which indeed was bent backwards... Then I slowly relaxed the tension and still got (a slightly different) "sz", up to the moment when I sounded like a 2 years old.

    I guess they argue due to the wide spectrum of "sz"-s across the Polish population... My "sz"-s are more /ʂ/ than /ʃ/ anyway and I know a few people whose "sz"-s are even more /ʂ/-ish than mine.
     
  11. zen108 New Member

    Polish
    I liked all the advice posted here, it is very ueful for practising the sounds. Recognising and reproducing the sounds correctly is important, I think it shouldn't be done at the cost of fluency, or fun of learning. In Polish vibrant and correct intonation is much more important that the perfect consonants. This is a very strong side of being Italian and speaking Italian as first language and learning Polish. The singy singy intontation of Italian Polish sounds so pleasant to Polish ear that the not-perfect consonants are easily forgiven. I tought Polish as a foreign language to people of +20 nationalities from all around the world, and was astounded by the inventiveness they showed for substitution. That is definitely a better choice that stumble and give up or forget the language after a year or two, only becuse of details. It also comes naturally after some time, simply the right sounds click in. If they don't - it is no big diseaster. It may sounds a bit clumsy, sometimes delightful though, but it is not the same case as English false friends, or tonal languages such as Chinese.

    Joanna Krupa or Pascal Winncki do not speak perfect sounds and no one really cares. They are understood, and listened to.

    I suppose it's a question of priorities. I've been there - as as student of English philology (which also included phonology courses) - through the sound description and drilling and phonetic training, and I know that a good pronounciation can be a huge asset, not in all settings though. Still I saw too many people lose confidence while perfecting the form rather than focusing on the contents. Confidence matters most to me. Making the best of linguistic skills in real life communication.

    I have just listened to Dawid Snopek - he speaks better than many Poles who have lived abroad for some time. Thus it would be useful to clarify what we consider / qualify as a mistake here.
     
  12. ryba

    ryba Senior Member

    The sound animation for Polish ‹sz› in Say It Right v1.0 and v2.0 also indicates slight retroflexion, but it's veeery slight. Compare the image (I hope this can be treated as fair use; Say It Right is a great program, I highly recommend it to any English learner). Also in my Pol-Eng contrastive grammar classes at IFA we used the ʂ symbol instead of ʃ, by convention. Wiktor Jassem uses ʃ.

    Oh, really? How about ryż - ryś, proszę - prosię, począć - pociąć, cześć - cieć, czule - ciule, chipy (czipy) - cipy? ;)
     
  13. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    for cz, use Spanish ch sound for the beginning, you will later learn the more correct sound (it is like in Italian 'c' in 'certo')
    for ć, never use your Spanish ch sound, if you have trouble with the sound: use t+j (j as in English 'yes')
    for sz use German sch in "Schweiz" , it is just the same, or the Portuguese 'ch' like in 'chorar', you can also start with the English 'sh' f for the beginning, you will later learn the more correct sound
    for ś never use the English 'sh', sound, if you have trouble with the sound: try the German "soft ch" like in 'ich', or a s+j ('j' as in English 'yes')


    for dż do the same as for cz but this time voiced, for the beginning you can use the English 'j' as in 'general' (not as in 'gin')
    for dź: like ć, but sounded, for the beginning use d+j (j as in English 'yes')
    for ż use French 'j' like in 'jour', or English 'pleasure' (much like voiced 'sh')
    for ź do the same as for ś but this time voiced, if difficult use z+j ('z' like in English or French 'zebra', j as in English 'yes')

    Remember: the sounds ć and cz are separate phonems, if you confuse them with each other you will pronounce different words. The same with ś and sz, ź, ż and dż.
    Moreover, pronouncing ć as cz, and ś as sz sounds very wrong and ugly to Polish ears, maybe as pronouncing Spanish 'j' as English 'sh'. A saving device for beginners with Polish is pronouncing them like: c+j and s+j respectively. It does not sound quite correct, but it is not ugly, and you avoid misunderstanding (those sounds were once pronounced that way, and it is also as other Slavs will pronounce corresponding words).
     
  14. Piotr_WRF Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish, German
    The German ch sound in ich is pronounced with a Polish ś, IPA /ɕ/, only in the Rhineland. The standard German pronunciation is /ç/, in southern Germany even /ʃ/. So, depending witch variety you've learned, 涼宮, be careful here.
     
  15. 涼宮

    涼宮 Senior Member

    Sbaeneg/Castellano (Venezuela)
    Shouldn't ch be /x/ and not /ç/?:confused: The /x/ sound is found in the Spanish from Spain, a strong sound, you also find it in Slovak in the word chlapec, or in Polish ch, chleb. The same for German, ich. In some variants the ch is pronounced /k/. Nevertheless, Wikipedia says that /x/ and /ç/ are allophones. It must depend on the zone.
     
  16. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    Polish ch is closer to China, in my opinion. I do not think it depends on the region. There is one standard Polish and I think this is what you want to learn. The ch in chleb is softer than the German Ich, it also depends which German you have in mind, from the North or from the South. It is not exactly like Ich. I hope this helps, but the best thing is to listen to somebody who speaks Polish in a nice way, who speaks literary Polish.
     
  17. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    I meant of course the standard High German pronounciation of 'ich' as used by German Radio news readers.
    I never meant, howver, that /ç/ is identical with ś, but that it is a whole world better approximation than /ʃ/, which is terribly dissonant to Polish ears.
     
  18. ryba

    ryba Senior Member

    No, not in ich. ;)
     
  19. perevoditel Junior Member

    I would argue about "ch". There is very slight difference between "ch" and "h", but it's not very notable, especially for beginners. So "h" is the way that I would propose.
     
  20. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    Which post do you refer to? And what language do you have in mind when you write about h and ch?
     
  21. inter1908 Senior Member

    Zulu
    You're mistaking German with Polish. We don't have a /ç/ sound in our language.
     
  22. Roy776

    Roy776 Senior Member

    Germany
    German & AmE
    I have the exact same problem as 涼宮, regarding the differentiation of the sounds.
    I am able to differentiate in pronunciation SZ, Ż, CZ, Dż, (Rz), but I have heavy problems regarding Ć, Ś and Dź. Most of the time, I'm not even able to hear the difference between SZ and Ś. CZ and Ć is a different story, as I'm often able to hear the difference, but I still can't reproduce it (maybe also due to the lack of knowledge on how to reproduce it...). And I must admit, I have for now stopped learning more vocabulary and am now focusing more on Czech. Sadly, this is not because I wanted to, but rather because I don't want to get too deep into the habit of not distinguishing the sounds. Actually, it was quite a setback to read that the difference between those sounds can be so strong and unpleasant.
    Well, long story short: Could you guys give any tips on how to reproduce the sounds? Instructions on tongue position do not really help me as much as I wish they would.
     
  23. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    I think you can definitely pronounce those sounds very well, because many people who speak German have fewer problems with Polish than users of some other languages. I think you just have to listen to the sounds. sz is like schlafen, ś is like ich in the South of Germany. Dz is like John in English. c is softer than cz. These are all approximations, but close to the proper sounds Cz is like Chocolate, ć is softer than ciao in Spanish, ź is almost like yamo in some parts of Spain.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2011
  24. Roy776

    Roy776 Senior Member

    Germany
    German & AmE
    I think I understand. Apart from the ś (which is not quite as recognizable for me, as my pronunciation of German Ich is the High German Standard), the other sounds should really be pronounceable. Maybe I should follow the suggestion made above and record myself saying a sentence or two when I have some more spare time. Thank you very much, Liliana.
     
  25. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    The ś Roy should be like the most Southern or even maybe Austrian ich.
     
  26. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    It certainly is not. You are confusing the foreros with inventing new phonetic explanations for sounds that have already been well explained in this thread.
     
  27. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    It is an approximation. This would be the closest sound I could think about, for an English and German speaking person. I am not inventing any systems but just trying to help somebody who wants to learn Polish. I taught quite a few people this way and they could say a few things in very good Polish. They were not interested in learning the language well but the things they could say were in very good Polish. You, are right, Ben Jamin, with the dz sound, I meant dż but I did not use the diacritics. Drzewo is similar to John, in my opinion. Dz would be different. I cannot think about a similar sound right now.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2011
  28. perevoditel Junior Member

    No, I'm not. I know our language, and I know there used to be difference between "ch" and "h" in Polish, but now both sounds are spoken near same way, like "h" in "house". I think we just misunderstood.

    @LilianaPL: I wouldn't agree about "drzewo", because proper way of saying this word is "d" + "j" (like French bon jour) + "evo".
    If you want to say "dż", then you should say it just like "g" in George (Washington, e.g.).
     
  29. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    No, it is not like Bon jour. Drzewo is no like bon jour. Bon jour is like żur.
     
  30. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    If you mean dż but write dz, it is confusing.
    The complete set of Polish letters is available in the tool bar above.

    By the way: in correct Polish pronunciation drzewo is pronounced with two separate consonants d+rz, not as dż, it is more like 'dr' in 'drain' (British pronunciation), not like Jane. Before WWII the pronunciation "dżewo" was attributed to non ethnic Polish speakers in cabaret sketches.
     
  31. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    Unfortunately I have no way of knowing how drzewo was pronounce before World War II. I have no one to ask either. I pronounce it right, maybe I just cannot describe it. Although, I think dż would be a close approximation for a beginner.
     
  32. BezierCurve Senior Member

    If you're interested in a good example of that subtle difference between "dż" and "drz" you might try it in Ivona (http://www.ivona.com/). Just type in, say, "drzemy - dżemy" and choose the Polish pronunciation.

    EDIT: This is the way it is still pronounced today, not just back then in 1930s.
     
  33. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    Thank you Bezier. I have absolutely no need to correct my Polish pronunciation. It is media standard. Thank you anyhow.
    I may need some help with Polish slang, though, because I understand it less and less.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2011
  34. inter1908 Senior Member

    Zulu
    Well you've misunderstood the posts which were about German and Polish, not the difference between /x/ (as in standard Dutch lachen /lɑxə(n)/) and /ɦ/ (as in standard Dutch "hond" /ɦɔnt/), which I may add is not some old way of distinguishing those sounds but something brought from our neighbors (Belarus, Ukraine, Slovakia) and used almost only near the borders with them. If I'm saying wrong things just source otherwise.
     
  35. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    It was pronounced the way I described (d+ż) by speakers of standard Polish.
     
  36. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    Who would pronounce drzewo with the dż sound? Was it typical for any particular dialect? Maybe then I can better picture how they would pronounce it.
     
  37. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    People of foreign origin that did not learn standard Polish well enough.

    In the early 1970-s there was a trend among teenagers to change pronunciation of certain sounds for fun (like drzewo -> dżewo, głupi -> gupi, Bułgaria -> Bugaria), but I don’t know if anybody does it today.
     
  38. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    I do not know anything about that. Thank you Ben Jamin. By the way is there any standard Polish any more, or anything is allowed, whatever one wants, different pronunciations, word choice?
     
  39. zen108 New Member

    Polish
    It was just the slovenly Polish, a careless way of speaking. Each generation of young ppl develops such forms today too!
     
  40. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    What do you mean by slovenly?
     
  41. bzu Senior Member

    English
    Just wondering if you speak with a perfect English accent? I very rarely hear a non-native who does, but it would never occur to me to say that is was "totally unacceptable" for someone to, say, pronounce "th" as "d" (which is extremely common). Surely mutual understanding is what languages are about, rather than trying to mimic sounds 100% perfectly. After all, some people just don't have the natural ability to do it as adults. Of course, I don't mean that language learners shouldn't make the effort to achieve native-like pronunciation as an ultimate goal, but personally speaking if people can understand me and my accent doesn't sound "ugly" then I'm happy with that. Striving for super perfect pronunciation (especially if you're just starting to learn a language) actually seems quite superficial to me, because it puts the focus on something which (in my opinion) learning languages is not really about.
     
  42. inter1908 Senior Member

    Zulu
    Thing is substituting those sounds with each other sounds extremely ugly and careless. That's the point.
     
  43. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    I think it is totally unacceptable to pronounce th as d in English., at any stage of learning. Plus unfortunately the approximations he was referring to were absolutely unacceptable and wrong. This would have made all the Polish sounds distorted and change the meaning of words. Some approximation is OK but in the right direction. ś cannot be pronounced as sz even as approximation.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2011
  44. kirahvi Senior Member

    Finnish
    Coming from a foreigner living in Poland...

    People do understand you even if you mispronounce things. It's very rare to end up in a situation, where the other party wouldn't understand from the context what you are saying, if the only clear mispronunciation you have is substituting alveolopalatals with palatoalveolars. I think in those situations there is either considerable lack of context or considerable lack of willingness to understand on the other person's behalf.

    As to pronouncing these sounds, I've found it helpful to make certain my palatoalveolars are very sharp. Rounding the lips and pointing them out helped me. For the alveolopalatals, compared to palatoalveolars, my trick was to raise the body of my tongue, lower the tip of my tongue and sort of smile. It makes the pitch of the hissing sound higher. In the beginning I practiced a lot at home in private and really exaggerated the movements of my tongue and face muscles. It helped me pin point what needs to happen to produce the needed sounds.

    But in general I think the most important thing is to at least try. Even if the end product isn't at first what it's supposed to be, it'll most likely get better if you just keep trying.
     
  45. BezierCurve Senior Member

    This is exactly what I was doing with English, worked for me too. When your muscles are used to producing these sounds it is much easier then to pronounce words fluently, without even realizing what you need to do. The best way for me was to read aloud stories filled up with that particular sound I was trying to learn, one at a time.
     
  46. bzu Senior Member

    English
    My point is that I could easily have the same view about "th" being pronounced as "d" (or various other approximate pronunciations I hear every day from foreigners - including Poles - speaking English), but I don't because... well, probably because I am so used to hearing them and I interpret them as being part of that person's [X country]-ish English accent, rather than as some horrible, "extremely ugly" defect which needs to be fixed. As native Polish speakers you are surely much less used to hearing foreigners speak your language, which I imagine makes you less tolerant to hearing these non-native pronunciations.

    For me there is a difference between someone having a heavy, "ugly", difficult-to-understand foreign accent, and someone who retains some aspects of their native language's pronunciation, doesn't completely master certain sounds, but is actually perfectly understandable (and can often sound quite charming).

    Perhaps anything remotely foreign-sounding in Polish sounds ugly to you for the reasons I mentioned above, I don't know. Like I said, for me language learning is not about trying to mimic sounds 100% perfectly, which is why I would never say that someone's understandable-if-imperfect English pronunciation was "totally unacceptable". Not that they shouldn't try to improve it (if they so wish), just that having a perfect accent seems like something relatively superficial to me, compared to their actual, real knowledge of the language. Judging someone's English by their pronunciation is for me akin to judging it by their handwriting.
     
  47. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    Hi, Bzu, maybe you should tell people in a nice way that their pronunciation is wrong. This works only to their benefit in the long run.

    Bzu, my remarks were not about retaining certain aspects of a foreign accent: they were related to pronouncing sounds in a way that they would be mixed with other sounds, making the words unintelligible. I like accents. I really like when people speak languages with a certain accent which is unique for them.

    See, the difference between ć and cz in Polish is a tremendous difference which can change the meaning of certain words completely.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2011
  48. BezierCurve Senior Member

    In the long run widespread trends in pronunciation caused Great Vowel Shift, for example. You can't really control it and so there's no need to feel responsible for "deterioration" in a language.

    Also, as Kirahvi stated, you will hardly ever be misunderstood, as people are usually able to figure out the meaning from the context.
     
  49. LilianaB Senior Member

    US New York
    Lithuanian
    I am not 100% sure what caused the sound shifts. I think we are always partially responsible for deterioration in language: I believe in an aesthetic attitude towards things, including language.
     
  50. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Norway
    Polish
    You underestimate the fact that apparently small distortions of pronunciation may make understanding much more difficult, and the message inaccurate. The same is with listening to messages over loudspeakers at railway stations (usually of bad quality).
     

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