Reduction of -śmy?


Senior Member

Does the ending -śmy get reduced to -ś in colloquial speech? I've been in Warsaw for less than a week and I believe that I've already heard two examples:

- Two young men discovering a hard-to-find exhibit room in a museum and one saying to the other something like "tutaj jeszcze nie byliś", which I took to mean "we still haven't been here", i.e. "byliśmy"
- A man and a woman in a café noticing me waiting behind them next to the display case with pastries, gesturing for me to proceed to the cash register in front of them and saying something like "już zamowiłyś", which I took to mean "we have already ordered", i.e. "zamowiłyśmy"

Did they really clip the ending, or did I mishear, possibly because they mumbled the -my- part? In the first case, I though that maybe one of the men was saying to the other "YOU haven't been here yet", with the form "byłeś", but in the second case, they definitely weren't saying to me "już zamowiłeś", which would not have made sense in the context.

If the phenomenon is real, how prevalent is it?

Thank you in advance
  • I agree with PA_System and Zaffy: I've never heard it. Besides, it would have little sense, because, as you noticed yourself, it could lead to confusing the persons.

    I have a theory though that albeit for historical reasons the verbs in 1p pl. ought to be accented in the third-to-last syllable (BYliśmy, zamóWIliśmy), they are often accented regularly, on the penultimate syllable (byLIŚmy, zamówiLIŚmy), which can naturally lead to the weakening and mumbling the last syllable, which an untrained ear can miss, especially in a background noise environment or if heard from a distance.

    For a while I thought that they might have been Russian or Ukrainian speakers (there are bazilions Ukrainians and Belorussians in Warsaw, both emigrants and refugees), but probably they wouldn't speak Polish between themselves. And if they spoke Polish for any reason - they would more likely drop the suffix entirely (byli, zamówili): the past tense suffixes in Polish are in fact reduced forms of a former auxiliary verb of the Old Slavic present perfect tense, while in the East Slavic languages the auxiliary verb is dropped entirely, leaving the former aorist participle alone serving as the past tense forms across the persons. This phenomenon is also present in some rural dialects in Poland, BTW.
    They could also have problems using masculine-personal and non-masculine-personal forms, as this distinction does not exist in those languages, as far as I am aware, with the Russian speakers could tend to use -li suffix for both male and female subjects in plural, while with the Ukrainians - using -ły.
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