Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Does the Arabic hamza exist in Polish?

Last week I discovered another similarity between my mother tongue, Polish, and Arabic, namely something called in English grammar books a glottal stop. It is fascinating: to see the similarities where - as it may seem - there are only differences. What do I mean? Who learns Arabic, they know that a glottal stop or hamza is a consonant spelled in this language as: ء. Its carrier is for example an alif, then it looks like this: أ or like this: إ. (Of course I mean these little signs written as superscript or subscript.)



During the last, weekly conversation held in Arabic with my friends on Google+ once again a question was posed about problematic sounds in Arabic. As for me, there are not any - I love them all. I do know know why it is so, but from the very beginning I like the sound of the Arabic, perhaps because of these sounds.

And then I realized that indeed in Polish there is a “glottal stop”, although it is not called exactlly like this. The grammarians call it "zwarcie krtaniowe". I could give here a very sophisticated description but I will spare myself and the reader of this post. Suffice it to give examples, and you will know what it is about.


Glottal stop in Polish (in Arabic as well) appears in the beginning of the enunciation, before the vowel, for example in words like “ona”, “ale”, especially when there are pronounced with emphasis. Another, maybe better, example of the glottal stop is emphatically pronounced “nie”. After an “e” sound there is another sound, not written in Polish. Isn't it? Well, wedo not even call it a letter, but it is a different sound.

It may also be observed, or rather heard in words with prefixes, e.g. za-awansowany - between these two “a” vowels there is the glottal stop. Sometimes it can be heard between two vowels in words like: "boa" or "teatr", but in these cases it is not considered correct.

Back to Arabic, similarly like in Polish, the word “nie” (English: "no") - in this case لا [read: la] can be pronounced in two ways. In a regular speech it sound “nie” and “la”, while in emphatic negation: nie’ and la’ - this is how many authors spell this sound (other systems of tranliteration can also be found).


Uff, how nice it is to see such similarities in a foreign language, it seems so much simpler then…


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