The Polish Language

The Polish Language
Many Poles, particularly young people, have a healthy command of the English language. Many are also adept at other European languages with German being the most commonly spoken. Older Poles will fiercely contest that they have ‘forgotten’ the Russian taught to them at school but most will still have a reasonable understanding.

Mastering the Polish tongue can be a terrifying ordeal, often resulting in personal degradation as shop assistants laugh at your flustered attempts. That aside, learning a few key phrases will smooth your time in Poznań and may even win you friends and admirers.

On the downside, Polish is one of the most difficult languages for native English speakers to learn. On the upside, unlike in English, words in Polish are spelled the way they are pronounced. This is a great help once you know how to pronounce each letter/combination of letters. While many letters represent the same sounds as they do in English, below we have listed those particular to Polish, followed by some basic words and phrases. Powodzenia (Good luck)!

Basic Pronunciation

ą’ sounds like ‘on’ in the French ‘bon’ 
ę’ sounds like ‘en’ as in the French ‘bien’ 
ó’ is an open ‘o’ sound like ‘oo’ in ‘boot’
c’ like the ‘ts’ in ‘bits’‘
'j’ like the ‘y’ in ‘yeah’
w’ is pronounced like the English ‘v’
ł’ like the ‘w’ in ‘win’
ń’ like the ‘ny’ in ‘canyon’
cz’ and ‘ć’ like the ‘ch’ in ‘beach’
dz’ like the ‘ds’ in ‘beds’
rz’ and ‘ż’ like the ‘su’ in ‘treasure’
sz’ and ‘ś’ like the ‘sh’ in ‘ship’
drz’ like the ‘g’ in ‘George’
'r' is always rolled

Polish Words & Phrases

Yes                                                                     Tak                                                                     (Tahk)
No                                                                      Nie                                                                     (Nyeh)
Hi/Bye (informal)                                             Cześć                                                                (Cheshch)     
Hello/Good day (formal)                                Dzień dobry                                                   (Jen doh-bri)    
Good evening (formal)                                   Dobry wieczór                                                (Doh-bri vyeh-choor)
Good-bye                                                       Do widzenia                                                   (Doh veet-zen-ya)    
Good Night                                                    Dobranoc                                                        (Doh-brah-noats)
Please                                                              Proszę                                                              (Prosheh)    
Thank you                                                       Dziękuje                                                          (Jen-koo-yeh)    
Excuse me/Sorry                                         Przepraszam                                                  (Psheh-prasham)
My name is...                                                Mam na imię...                                             (Mam nah ee-myeh…)
I’m from England.                                        Jestem z Anglii                                              (Yehstem zanglee)
Do you speak English?                             Czy mówisz po angielsku?                                (Che moo-veesh po an-gyel-skoo?)
I don’t speak Polish.                                   Nie mówię po polsku.                                (Nyeh moo-vyeh po pol-skoo.)
I don’t understand.                                    Nie rozumiem.                                              (Nyeh row-zoo-me-ehm.)
Two beers, please.                                     Dwa piwa proszę.                                        (Dvah peevah prosheh.)
Cheers!                                                       Na zdrowie!                                                        (Nah zdrovyeh!)
Where are the toilets?                              Gdzie są toalety?                                         (Gdjeh sawn toe-letih)
You are beautiful.                                        Jesteś piękna.                                               (Yes-tesh pee-enk-nah.)
I love you.                                                       Kocham cię.                                                   (Ko-hahm chuh.)    
Please take me home.                              Proszę zabierz mnie do domu.               (Prosheh za-byesh mnyeh doh doh-moo.)
Call me!                                                        Zadzwoń do mnie!                                      (Zads-dvoan doh mnyeh!)

Airport                                                         Lotnisko                                                    (Lot-nees-ko)
Train station                                                Dworzec PKP                                         (Dvoar-jets Peh Kah Peh)
Bus station                                                  Dworzec PKS                                        (Dvoar-jets Peh Kah Ess)
One ticket to…                                             Jeden bilet do…                                        (Yeh-den bee-let doh…)

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