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    Good afternoon!

    I was mobilized to read about Polish dialects after speaking with a girl from Warsaw. She told me that I speak differently, more eastern way. And I thought – why not to put here some information about Polish language?

    In general, every language has its own dialects, depending on the area of the country. These dialects are unique to local people and are not present in other territories. The same is with Poland.

    With Polish dialects are connected few features: mazurzenie, szadzenie, jabłonkowanie, kaszubienie. There are two groups of dialects:

    1) land-based (east-Lechitic): Greater Poland, Lesser Poland, Silesia, Mazovia;
    2) Pomeranian (central-Lechitic): Kashubia.

    Mazurzenie – phonetic process based on speaking dental consonants (c, z, s…) instead of alveolar consonants (cz, ż, sz…). For example with word SCHOOL – in Polish language, it is SZKOŁA (spoken as “shkowa”), however due to mazurzenie some speak it as SKOŁA.
    Mazurzenie is not present in case of “rz” which is spoken as “ż” or “sz”.

    Szadzenie – it is a phonetic process opposite to mazurzenie.

    Jabłonkowanie – alveolar consonants are mixed with alveolo-palatal consonants (ć, ź, ś…). It may also describe a process, when alveolo-palatal consonants are used instead of alveolar, e.g. ŚKOŁA instead of SZKOŁA.

    Kaszubienie – there are two things that term describes. In general it is a characteristic feature of Kashubians, but what I mean here is that alveolo-palatal consonants are substituted by dental consonants. Quite similiar to mazurzenie.

    In Poland we have a few main dialects, which are further divided into cants (gwara). Here is a map (more reliable one, I think), but also not 100% accurate.


    It shows few dialects. The author is Karol Dejna (1911-2004), Polish linguist and slavist. He mentions:

    1. Greater Poland dialect (dialekt wielkopolski).

    Is used in Greater Poland. There are four cants spoken in:
    – Central Greater Poland;
    – Western Greater Poland (west from Pniewy, Nowy Tomyśl, Wolsztyn);
    – Southern Greater Poland (southern part, from Kalisz, Leszno, Gostyń, Krotoszyn, Ostrów Wielkopolski);
    – Northern Greater Poland (north from Gniezno and Międzychód).

    Some characteristic things: there is no mazurzenie, vowel breaking is present (ptauk, instead of ptak [a bird]), nasal vowels (ę, ą) are spoken in different, e.g. WYCH instead of WĘCH.

    These are of course not every characteristic features of Greater Poland dialect. This dialect is also a base for literary language.

    2. Lesser Poland dialect (dialekt małopolski).

    This dialect is NOT the same in the whole region of Lesser Poland. Wincenty Pol (1807-1872), Polish poet and geographer mentioned three forms used in areas of:
    – Sandomierz,
    – Lublin,
    – Red Ruthenia (Sanok).

    There are few main features like: specific way of pronunciation “ę” and “ą”, for example RENKA instead of RĘKA (a hand) – “ę” is pronunced as “en” and “ą” as “on”. There is also making consonants… harsher. Like there is a word consisted of letter “s” which is weak, and this “s” is transformed into “z” – for example, JESTEM is pronunced as JEZDEM (I am). Also accent is located on the last syllable, but only in vocative.

    These are also not every features of the dialect. This dialect also had a great influence on forming the literary language.

    3. Mazovian dialect

    It is very distinct dialect from general language. Innovative not only among Polish dialects, but also Slavic languages. With the increase of Mazovia’s importance in the country, this dialect started to influence the language, however in small degree – mostly in word formation, and in forming common parlance.

    There are many cants in Mazovian dialect that are used in territories of:
    – Łęczyca,
    – Masuria,
    – Warmia,
    – Ostróda,
    – Warsaw,
    – Białystok,
    – Suwałki,
    – Kurpie,
    – Łowicz,
    – gwara liwsko-czerska,
    – gwara zawkrzańska.

    In Mazovian dialect is present the process of mazurzenie and in Suwałki area the process of szadzenie. In fact, these local cants have their own, unique characteristics. But Mazovian dialect is focused mostly on pronunciation of the words with “ke” like “kie” and “kę/gę” like “ke/ge”. For example “nogie” instead of “nogę” (a leg, accusative). There is also no palatalisation of “L” (lytr, instead of litr, lymuzyna instead of limuzyna, etc.) and the suffix in plural form in instrumental case “-mi” is spoken as “-my” (kwiatami – kwiatamy [flowers]).



    4. Kashubian dialect

    It is also considered as different language. It differs the most and is most archaic. There is kaszubienie and unique vowel “shwa”. Kashubian dialects have some features known in Polabian language that are absent in Polish language, and is influenced by Low-German and Prussian languages. It is a regional language.

    To see the difference, here is “Pater Noster” prayer in Polish, and in Kashubian.

    Polish (there are three prayers in this link, “Ojcze Nasz” is first): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIHPxdCO-ao
    Ojcze nasz, któryś jest w niebie
    Święć się imię Twoje
    Przyjdź królestwo Twoje
    Bądź wola Twoja, jako w niebie tak i na ziemi.
    Chleba naszego powszedniego daj nam dzisiaj
    I odpuść nam nasze winy
    Jako i my odpuszczamy naszym winowajcom.
    I nie wódź nas na pokuszenie,
    Ale nas zbaw ode złego.

    Kashubian: http://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File%3AOjcze_nasz_po_kaszebsku.ogg
    Òjcze nasz, jaczi jes w niebie,
    niech sã swiãcy Twòje miono,
    niech przińdze Twòje królestwò,
    niech mdze Twòja wòlô
    jakno w niebie tak téż na zemi.
    Chleba najégò pòwszednégò dôj nóm dzysô
    i òdpùscë nóm naje winë,
    jak i më òdpùszcziwómë naszim winowajcóm.
    A nie dopùscë na nas pòkùszeniô,
    ale nas zbawi òde złégò.

    Kashubian dialect/language differs from Polish and may be not understandable for non-Kashubian person.

    5. Silesian dialects

    Sometimes is also considered as different language, however has not the status of regional language and is less… different from general Polish language than Kashubian. It is more understandable (in comparison to Kashubian, as Silesian is also quite different). Silesian is archaic in case of word formation, vocabulary and syntax. There is partly mazurzenie and jabłonkowanie, and is influenced by Czech language, German language, and Lusatian languages.

    It is also divided on three parts (three kinds of Silesian spoken on different areas):
    – Upper Silesia,
    – Lower Silesia,
    – Cieszyn Silesia.

    As an example of Silesian, here is a song “Ondraszek” by Zespół Pieśni i Tańca “Śląsk”. It’s a bit quiet though.


    6. New mixed dialects

    These are the group of dialects used in areas of “Ziemie Odzyskane” – Recovered Territories. These are lands recovered from Germans: Western Poland and Prussia. This is a mix of cants used by people who were resettled from Kresy Wschodnie to Recovered Territories. As it is a group of dialects, there are no specific features. These are created by people resettled from:

    – North Kresy (Lithuania, Belarus) and South Kresy (Ukraine);
    – Mazovia, Greater Poland and Lesser Poland;
    – Remains of Polish cants used in these lands despite of the domination of the German language.

    Polish speaking appeared on:

    – Western Pomerania, substituting the West-Pomeranian cant of Low-German language;
    – Lower Silesia, substituting the Silesian dialect of German language;
    – Eastern Prussia, substituting Lower-Prussian dialect of Low-German language.

    7. Mixed dialects

    These are also a group of dialect and cants present near the borders. These have no specific features as well, as it depends on the area. For example, people from the lands near the border with Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine speaks differently than people living on the border with Slovakia (Górale, the Highlanders).

    These dialects, despite of Silesian and Kashubian, are very similiar and people can understand each other without any problems. It is even hard to recognize. Personally, when I was told that I speak differently, I had never thought about it and never seen the difference. Also my colleague who visited Kraków was told, that he doesn’t live in Kraków, as he speaks different. However, the main differences and specific features are only “used” by older people, as young people are speaking “normal Polish” nowadays. Only Silesians, Kashubians and Highlanders are speaking their… native way, due to which we may guess where are they from.

    If there is some mistakes, I’ll be glad to see corrections ;)



    Interesting stuff. I was lately into accents not dialects but I can not find anything on the matter. Maybe prof.Miodek have some videos on YT about it but Ive found only one where he mentions the differences in pronunciation and accents in different regions. And Ive learned from him that the best ,most pure Polish is spoken in my region.



    You are from Pomerania, right?
    Accents are part of dialects in fact. Every dialect or cant has specific accent.

    By the way, I have a question. Do you know, what does “bambaryła” mean? Or “baciuszka”? I’m asking, because I’m curious if you are able to understand some words from local cant, which are not currently used as common, but most people here understand its meaning if someone will use it.



    Yes but I was interested in accents inside basic Lechitic or common Polish; dont know how to call it.
    “Bambaryła” is old-Polish I guess and it was used in Sienkiewicz trilogy. It means something like “fattie” (fat person).
    “Baciuszka” was unknown to me but I’ve found out that its eastern influence and means a priest ,but in pejorative context. But its not used in my region. We have rather “post-Skandinavian” influences taken from Kashebian. Some elders call “potatoes” “kartofle” instead of “ziemniaki”.



    Yes, these words are understood in area I live. In the past, there were also people speaking in “chachłacka mowa”, but it is actually an Ukrainian dialect, not Polish. Unfortunately, it is almost distinct, used only by the oldest people.

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