LINGUIST List 6.96

Mon 23 Jan 1996

Sum: Polish Phonology

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  1. , Summary: Polish Phonology

Message 1: Summary: Polish Phonology

Date: Mon, 23 Jan 95 15:57:55 ESSummary: Polish Phonology
From: <>
Subject: Summary: Polish Phonology

Not too long ago I posted a request for Polish informants who
were also linguists in the hope of getting some quick responses
to some questions about Polish phonology which are not fully
addressed in the literature. The response has been tremendous.
Since the details may not be of interest, and since I am not
sure if all respondents want their names used, I will summarize
as follows:

Most respondents report having a contrast between the
sequences [k'e] and [kje] as well as [g'e] and [gje], where
by [k'] and [g'] I mean a fronted velar probably not quite
as front as IPA [c], though. A minority of respondents
report no contrast, which is apparently the result of a very
recent and presumably spreading sound change.

Of those speakers who do have the contrast, most report
also having a similar contrast between [x'e] and [xje]
sequences, although one or two do not.

It is this last contrast, [x'e] vs. [xje] (both distinct
also from [xe]) which is of special interest because in
attested forms it only appears before one suffix, a rather
peculiar one at that. The suffix is spelled -ewicz and it
forms last names such as Stankiewicz or Banachiewicz. It
is also clear that such names come from Eastern Poland,
and that the [x'e] pronunciation is thus a borrowing into
Standard Polish from some eastern dialects and ultimately
from East Slavic (Belorussian/Ukrainian). Synchronically,
however, it is a genuine contrast and one of special
interest to those phonologists who are interested in the
universals governing the possible systems of contrasts
(e.g., in Lexical Phonology's Structure Preservation,

Great thanks to everybody who has responded so far. Once
I verify whether I am authorized to publicize people's
names I will post a "nonymous" acknowledgement.

Any additional information on this topic would be welcome.

Alexis MR
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