Poland Euro 2016 squad

Polish names tend to pose particular difficulty to non-Poles. Polish spelling is quite regular in that once one knows the rules of which letters correspond to which sound, it is easy to see how it is pronounced. But these conventions are very different from most other languages that use the Latin alphabet and are often baffling for speakers of other languages.

Polish has two series of sounds that correspond to the sh /ʃ/, zh /ʒ/ (as in ‘vision’), ch /ʧ/, and j /ʤ/ (as in ‘judge’) sounds of English—the retroflex series sz /ʂ/rz or ż /ʐ/, cz /ʦ̢/, and  /ʣ̢/, and the alveolo-palatal series ś /ɕ/, ź /ʑ/, ć /ʨ/, and  /ʥ/. The latter series also occur when the letters s, z, c, and dz are followed by the letter i (which is not pronounced separately if another vowel follows).

The letters that have a little ‘tail’ or ogonekę and ą—are usually pronounced as if they were e and o respectively with nasalization, or with a nasal consonant (like /n/ or /m/) at the end if followed by certain consonants.

Here is a guide to the Polish pronunciation of Poland’s Euro 2016 roster, followed by suggested approximations in English in parentheses.

  • Manager: Adam Nawałka (Poland) [ˈa.dam na.ˈvau̯.ka] (AH-dahm na-VOW-ka [ˈɑːd.ɑːm nə.ˈvaʊ̯k.ə])
  • Artur Boruc [ˈar.tur ˈbɔ.ruʦ] (AR-toor BOR-oots [ˈɑːɹt.ʊɹ ˈbɔːɹ.ʊts])
  • Łukasz Fabiański [ˈwu.kaʂ fa.ˈbjaɲ.skʲi] (WOO-kahsh fahb-YAHN-ski [ˈwuːk.ɑːʃ ˌfɑːb.i‿ˈɑːn.ski])
  • Wojciech Szczęsny [ˈvɔi̯.ʨɛx ˈʂʦ̢ɛ̃.snɨ] (VOY-chekh SHCHE(N)S-nee [ˈvɔɪ̯.ʧɛx ˈʃʧɛns.ni] or VOY-check [ˈvɔɪ̯.ʧɛk])
  • Kamil Glik [ˈka.mil ˈɡlik] (KAHM-il GLICK [ˈkɑːm.ɪl ˈɡlɪk])
  • Artur Jędrzejczyk [ˈar.tur jɛn.ˈdʐɛi̯.ʦ̢ɨk] (AR-toor yend-ZHEY-chick [ˈɑːɹt.ʊɹ jɛnd.ˈʒeɪ̯ʧ.ɪk])
  • Michał Pazdan [ˈmi.xau̯ ˈpaz.dan] (MEE-khow PAHZ-dahn [ˈmiː.xaʊ̯ ˈpɑːz.dɑːn] or MEE-how [ˈmiː.haʊ̯])
  • Łukasz Piszczek [ˈwu.kaʂ ˈpi.ʂʦ̢ɛk] (WOO-kahsh PISH-check [ˈwuːk.ɑːʃ ˈpɪʃ.ʧɛk])
  • Bartosz Salamon [ˈbar.tɔʂ sa.ˈla.mɔn] (BAR-tosh sa-LAHM-on [ˈbɑːɹt.ɒʃ sə.ˈlɑːm.ɒn])
  • Thiago Cionek [ˈtja.ɡɔ ˈʨɔ.nɛk] (tee-AH-go CHO-neck [ti.ˈɑːɡoʊ̯ ˈʧoʊ̯n.ɛk])
  • Jakub Wawrzyniak [ˈja.kup va.ˈvʐɨ.ɲak] (YAHK-oop vahv-ZHIN-eeack [ˈjɑːk.ʊp vɑːv.ˈʒɪn.i‿æk])
  • Jakub Błaszczykowski [ˈja.kup bwa.ʂʦ̢ɨ.ˈkɔf.skʲi → ˈja.kub.bwa.ʂʦ̢ɨ.ˈkɔf.skʲi] (YAHK-oop bwahsh-chi-KOF-ski [ˈjɑːk.ʊp ˌbwɑːʃ.ʧɪ.ˈkɔf.ski])
  • Kamil Grosicki [ˈka.mil ɡrɔ.ˈɕiʦ.kʲi] (KAHM-il gro-SHIT-ski [ˈkɑːm.ɪl ɡɹoʊ̯.ˈʃɪt.ski])
  • Tomasz Jodłowiec [ˈtɔ.maʂ jɔ.ˈdwɔ.vjɛʦ] (TOM-ahsh yo-DWO-viets [ˈtɒm.ɑːʃ joʊ̯.ˈdwoʊ̯v.i‿ɛts])
  • Bartosz Kapustka [ˈbar.tɔʂ ka.ˈpust.ka] (BAR-tosh ka-PUST-ka [ˈbɑːɹt.ɒʃ kə.ˈpʊst.kə]PUST has the same vowel as ‘put’)
  • Grzegorz Krychowiak [ˈɡʐɛ.ɡɔʂ krɨ.ˈxɔ.vjak] (GZHEG-osh kri-KHO-veeack [ˈɡʒɛɡ.ɒʃ kɹɪ.ˈxoʊ̯v.i‿æk] or kri-HO-veeack [kɹɪ.ˈhoʊ̯v.i‿æk])
  • Karol Linetty [ˈka.rɔl li.ˈnɛ.tɨ] (KAR-ol li-NET-ee [ˈkɑːɹ.ɒl lɪ.ˈnɛt.i]) or [ˈli.nɛ.tɨ] (LIN-ett-ee [ˈlɪn.ɛt.i])
  • Krzysztof Mączyński [ˈkʂɨ.ʂtɔf mɔnˈʦ̢ɨɲskʲi] (KSHISH-toff mon-CHIN-ski [ˈkʃɪʃ.tɒf mɒn.ˈʧɪn.ski])
  • Sławomir Peszko [swa.ˈvɔ.mir ˈpɛ.ʂkɔ] (swah-VO-meer PESH-ko [swɑː.ˈvoʊ̯m.ɪə̯ɹ ˈpɛʃ.koʊ̯])
  • Filip Starzyński [ˈfi.lip sta.ˈʐɨɲ.skʲi] (FIL-ip stah-ZHIN-ski [ˈfɪl.ɪp stɑː.ˈʒɪn.ski])
  • Piotr Zieliński [ˈpjɔtr̥ ʑɛ.ˈliɲ.skʲi] (PYOTR zheh-LIN-ski [ˈpjotɹ ʒɛ.ˈlɪn.ski])
  • Robert Lewandowski [ˈrɔ.bɛrt lɛ.van.ˈdɔf.skʲi] (ROB-ert lev-an-DOFF-ski [ˈɹɒb.əɹt ˌlɛv.ən.ˈdɒf.ski])
  • Arkadiusz Milik [ar.ˈka.djuʂ ˈmi.lik] (ar-KAHD-eeoosh MIL-ik [ɑːɹ.ˈkɑːd.i‿ʊʃ ˈmɪl.ɪk])
  • Mariusz Stępiński [ˈma.rjuʂ stɛm.ˈpiɲ.skʲi] (MAR-eeoosh stem-PIN-ski [ˈmɑːɹ.i‿ʊʃ stɛm.ˈpɪn.ski])

As is the case for most languages, there is no universally agreed-upon method for approximating Polish pronunciation in English. Variations on the above may be equally acceptable, for example where similar vowels are used (e.g. PEESH-check [ˈpiːʃ.ʧɛk] instead of PISH-check [ˈpɪʃ.ʧɛk] for Piszczek) or vowel reductions are applied (e.g. AR-ter [ˈɑːɹt.əɹ] instead of AR-toor [ˈɑːɹt.ʊɹ] for Artur).

Polish obstruents are devoiced finally, which is why the b in Jakub becomes [p]. However, one may just as well keep the b sound in English, saying YAHK-oob [ˈjɑːk.ʊb] for Jakub instead of YAHK-oop [ˈjɑːk.ʊp].

Polish ł represents /w/ in standard pronunciation, though historically it represented a velarized lateral approximant [ɫ], similar to the English ‘dark l’. This pronunciation is preserved in some Eastern dialects. So one may just as well map this to the English l sound, especially word-finally or before a consonant, saying na-VAHL-ka [nə.ˈvɑːlk.ə] for Nawałka instead of na-VOW-ka [nə.ˈvaʊ̯k.ə].

For the Polish consonant clusters with rz /ʐ/ which are difficult to imitate in English, it may be fine to map them to corresponding English clusters with r for ease of pronunciation, saying  GREG-osh [ˈɡɹɛɡ.ɒʃ] for Grzegorz instead of GZHEG-osh [ˈɡʒɛɡ.ɒʃ]. Historically, Polish rz was a palatalized trill /rʲ/ and thus closer to the r sounds of other languages before developing into the zh-like sound /ʐ/ of Modern Polish.

I have mapped the Polish vowel a /a/ consistently to English /ɑː/, the vowel in PALM., except for the ending -ak which I have mapped to English /æk/ to rhyme with ‘back’. For some speakers, this latter vowel /æ/ as in TRAP might be a better match for the Polish sound in general. Also, for Adam, one may just as well use the usual English pronunciation, [ˈæd.əm].

Linetty looks like a surname of Hungarian origin, which would explain the first-syllable stress that is sometimes heard. The typical Polish rule is to stress the penultimate syllable.

Thiago Cionek was born in Brazil, where Thiago is a common name. In Brazilian Portuguese, it is usually pronounced [ˈʧja.ɡu] (chee-AH-goo) because of the typically Brazilian palatalization of t into something like the English ch sound [ʧ] and the reduction of final unstressed o into [u] in most varieties of Portuguese, though regionally you may hear variants like [ˈtja.ɡu] (tee-AH-goo) and [ˈʧja.ɡo] (chee-AH-go). In English, it is usual to ignore the palatalization of t or the reduction of final o in Portuguese names, so tee-AH-go [ti.ˈɑːɡoʊ̯] is advisable for Thiago.

Thiago Cionek is also known as Thiago Rangel; the second Portuguese name is pronounced [ʁɐ̃.ˈʒɛu̯] in Brazilian Portuguese. Unlike European Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese usually features l-vocalization, where l develops into a w-like sound at the end of words and before consonants. This is similar to the development of Polish ł, except that in Polish this became a w-like sound even before vowels. The sequence [ɛu̯] is difficult to imitate in English, though, and l-vocalization is usually ignored when Portuguese names are pronounced in English. So the Portuguese pronunciation of Rangel may best be approximated as rahn-ZHEL [ɹɑːn.ˈʒɛl] in English.

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