Survival Polish:An Ultra-Short Crash Course
1) How to pronounce the name of the City and the name of the Polish co-chair?
a) Szczecin /SHTSHE-tshin/ (As professor John Crompton has kindly suggested, the initial sound cluster is similar to the fricative combinaton of the English phrase "fresh cheese")
b) Pawe┼é J─Ödrzejko /PA-vo yen-JAY-Co/
As you may have noticed, the Polish vowels, affricates and some consonants differ slightly from the sounds of English, but even if you get them wrong, the context will solve most doubts as to the sense of what you are trying to communicate.
2) How to read Polish the funnies of the Polish spelling?
"sz" is /sh/ like in the name "Patricia""┼Ť" or "si" is the same sound, but palatalized (soft) "cz" is /tsh/, like in "chair" "─ç" or "ci" is the same sound but palatalized (soft), like in the name of Mircea Eliade "rz" and "┼╝" are "zh" (like in the word "pleasure") "┼║" or "zi" is the same sound palatalized (soft)"─ů" is a nasal vowel like in the French word "pont" "─Ö" is a nasal like in the French word "rien" "ó" and "u" are pronounced as /oo/, like in "pull""┼ä" or "ni" palatalized nasal, like in the French word "cognac"
Polish vowels are all of the same length, we do not have dipthongs or shwas, there is no difference between stressed and unstressed vowels. With the exception of some loanwords, Polish stress always fall on the penultimate syllable of the word.
3) Words and symbols you may see on signs
a) "Uwaga!" /oo-VA-gah/- Attention!b) "Otwarte" or "Czynne" /ot-VAR-teh; TSHIN-neh/ - openc) "Zamkni─Öte" or "Nieczynne" /zamk-NYEN-teh, nye-TSHIN-neh/ - closedd) "Zakaz", "Zabronione" /za-KHAZ, za-BRON-yo-neh/ - prohibitede) "Bankomat" /ban-KO-mat/ - an ATMf) "Zapraszamy" /za-pra-SHA-mee/ - welcomeg) "Dworzec kolejowy" /DVO-zhets ko-le-YO-vee/ - a railway stationh) "Pogotowie" /po-go-TO-vye/ - ambulance, emergencyi) ROAD SIGNS and SIGNALS
Attention: a) J-walking is ILLEGAL in Poland; b) when you cross the street ALWAYS look to the LEFT first.
4) Basic phrases: greetings, politeness, terms of reference
a) "tak" /TACK/ - yesb) "nie" /NYE/ - noc) Dzie┼ä dobry! /Dzhen DOB-ree/ - good morning, good afternoond) Dobry wieczór! /DOB-ree VYE-tshoor/ - good eveninge) Do widzenia! /DO vid-ZEN-yah/ - good bye, good dayf) Przepraszam /pshe-PRA-sham/ - excuse me/I am sorryg) Prosz─Ö /PRO-she/ - there you are, pleaseh) Poprosz─Ö /po-PRO-she/ - can I have..., I'll have...i) Przepraszam pani─ů /pshe-PRA-sham PA-nyou/ - excuse me, Madam; I am sorry, Madamj) Przepraszam pana /pshe-PRA-sham PA-nah/ - excuse me, Sir; I am sorry, Sirk) Nazywam si─Ö ... /na-ZI-vam SHEU/ - my name is...l) Jestem... /YES-tem/ - I am...m) Gdzie jest.../GDZHE YEST/ - where is...n) Poprosz─Ö piwo /po-PRO-sheu PEE-vo/ - Beer, please.o) Dzi─Ökuj─Ö bardzo /dzhen-KOO-ye BAR-dzo/ - Thank you very much!
5) How to order a cab?
In Poland it is best to order cabs by phone: cab companies offering phone services will normally charge you less than drivers who are not a part of a larger company. It is best to ask the receptionist at the hotel to order a cab for you; the chance that the operator at the cab company will speak English is more than slim.
6) How to get directions with a map?
a) Przepraszam! Jak dotr─Ö do... (name of the place) /pshe-PRA-sham, YAK DO-tre DO.../ - Excuse me, how do I get to... b) (Indicate the map) Prosz─Ö mi pokaza─ç /PRO-she mee po-KA-zatsh/ - please, show me...c) Gdzie jest.../GDZHE YEST/ - where is...d) Dzi─Ökuj─Ö bardzo /dzhen-KOO-ye BAR-dzo/ - Thank you very much!
e) Tu / Tutaj /TU, TU-tay/ - heref) Tam /TAM/ - thereg) W lewo /v LE-vo/ - to the lefth) Po lewej /PO LE-vey/ - on the lefti) W prawo /v PRA-vo/ - to the rightj) Po prawej /PO PRA-vey/ - on the rightk) Ulica /oo-LI-tsa/ - streetl) Na ulicy /nah oo-LI-tsee/ - in the street, on the streetm) Przy ulicy /PZHEE oo-LI-tsee/ - at the street, by the streetn) Do portu /DO POR-too/ to the porto) Do hotelu /DO ho-TE-lu/ - to the hotelp) blisko /BLEES-koh/ - close, nearq) daleko /da-LE-koh/ - dalekor) prosto /PRO-sto/ - straight, straight ahead
NOTE: The word "NIE" /NYE/, meaning "no," is also a negative prefix.
7) How to call an ambulance?Alert any Pole in the vicinity saying: "Prosz─Ö zadzwoni─ç po pogotowie" /PRO-sheu za-DZVO-nitsh PO po-go-TO-vye/ - please, call the ambulance. If you just say "POGOTOWIE!!!" /po-go-TO-vye/ and mimick the act of calling, it will work, too.
8) What will the Poles try to make you say for fun?Poles adore to ask their befriended guests to repeat tongue-twisters:1) W Strzebrzeszynie chrz─ůszcz brzmi w trzcinie... /v stzheb-zhe-SHEE-nye HZHOUSHTSH BZHMEE v TZHTSHEE-nye/In Strzebrzeszyn (a town in Poland) a bug buzzed in the reeds2) Stó┼é z powy┼éamywanymi nogami/STOO z po-vee-oa-mee-va-NEE-mee no-GAH-mee/A table with legs broken off
3) Sasza szed┼é such─ů szos─ů/SA-sha SHEDW SOO-how SHO-sow/Sasha walked down a dry road
If you want to impress your host and be an immediate success at the party or in a bar - learn these and do not get caught!
Another hobby of partying Poles is to teach non-Poles Polish swearwords. This pleasure, however, I wish to retain:-)
9) How to ask for help?Czy pomo┼╝e mi pani? /TSHEE po-MO-zhe mee PA-nee/ - WIll you help me, Madam?Czy mo┼╝e mi pan pomóc? /TSHEE MO-zhe MEE PAN PO-moots/ - Can you help me, Sir?POMOCY!!! /po-MOH-tsee/ - HELP!!!
Usually, the English word "help" will work.
10) What if everything fails?
EXERCISE: listen to the sound file and translate sentences into English!