What if Polish had a Romance-like orthography instead of its own? Well, Poilschi is, in short, one possible answer to that question: an alternative orthography for the Polish language, based on what certain characterstics of its phonology have in common with the Romance languages. It is definitely not a serious proposal for reforming Polish orthography, which – in spite of its imperfections – I am actually quite fond of, nor is it meant as a way of criticising it. Poilschi can be treated as a sister project of my constructed language Wenedyk: both projects attempts to "romanise" Polish, each in its own way. The difference is this: where Wenedyk turns Polish into a Romance instead of a Slavic language, Poilschi assumes a Romance-like orthography instead, leaving the language intact. This orthography is not based on any Romance language in particular; it contains elements of French, Portuguese, Italian, and Romanian, as well as Irish. The basic idea is this: roughly speaking, Latin c remained [k] before a, o, and u, but became pronounced as [tʃ] before e and i. As a result, the pronunciation of c in many languages depends entirely on what follows. The early development of Slavic shows exactly the same phenomenon: e and i cause the palatalisation of the preceding consonant, and therefore ka remains ka, but ke becomes če. And here is my thought: wouldn't it be nice to develop an alternative Polish orthography to reflect precisely this?
Just like k/cz form a pair, so do many other consonants. Before e/i r became rz, t became ć, s became ś, etc. In Polish orthography, palatalisation is encoded in the preceding consonant; therefore, we have cie (palatalising) vs. te (non-palatalising), and likewise: mie vs. me, dzie vs. de, le vs. łe, etc. Romance orthographies, with Latin still fresh in mind, tend to do the opposite: when you see e or i, you can be sure that the preceding c or g are pronounced differently. Of course, Polish has non-palatalising e as well, just like the Romance languages do (for example, French quel, guerre, Italian che). It occurs frequently, but less frequently than palatalising e and mostly in later borrowings. Therefore, we can use ê as a substitute.
To push it a little further, let's do the same with i and y. Of course, they are pronounced differently and in most cases y has a different background than i. Yet, in Polish they got thoroughly mixed up anyway, and also here goes that the two often exclude each other mutually. Li occurs frequently, ły only in certain situations, ly and łi (almost) never. Likewise, ćy, śy, rzi, ti et.sim. are impossible or rare at best, and can therefore be ignored. All in all, with palatalising e/i and non-palatalising ê/î, we can do with a lot less consonants. Ł, rz, sz, ż, cz, ś, ź, ć, dź and ń all disappear, as does the sequence ie.
Since Poilschi is deliberately romanising, I decided to abandon those consonants that are rare or non-existent in most Romance orthographies: k, w, y, but also to add q, v and x. Some other modifications I made are mostly a matter of taste: Polish ą becomes om/on/õ, Polish c (now in use for k/cz) becomes ţ, Polish sz becomes ş, etc. As a result, a text in Poilschi will generally consist of less characters than its Polish equivalent, without a particularly huge amount of diacritics.
Of course, Poilschi makes the Polish language look more Romance than it really is, even if you take into account the numerous phonological similarities. Whereas in Romance the influence of e/i is limited to velar consonants mostly, in Polish it applies to all consonants. Besides, palatalised consonants can appear anywhere in a word, not only before e/i. When it is followed by another vowel, this is not much of a problem. I picked the Italian solution, which also happens to be the Polish one: mia therefore remains mia, cza becomes cia, la becomes lia, etc. The trouble really begins, when such a palatalised consonant appears at the end of a word or syllable. Reintroducing ć, ś etc. would be boring; replacing them with t', s' even more so. Therefore, I picked another solution: adding an i before the consonant in question. Thus, we get -ait for -ać, -eis for -eś, etc. It may seem a little odd, but it is easy to get used to. Ask an Irishman, if you don't believe me. Confusion with syllable-final j, which also becomes i, can be avoided by adding a h to the coda: thus, bać becomes bait, bajt becomes baith.
Poilschi was originally conceived by me in 2005, but it took me no less than three years before I decided to publish it here. Once again, it is not a serious proposal for a reform of Polish orthography. I don't even claim this orthography is any better; in fact, it's most probably even a lot worse. One advantage of Polish is at least that a person, who does not speak Polish but knows the pronunciation rules, can read a Polish text aloud without many errors. This can also be said about Poilschi, but to a lesser degree. Especially where it comes to borrowed vocabulary, we should avoid writing things like: soţiolioghia, ghêografia, catêgorhia, nêocliasîçnî; instead, we simply write: sociologîa, geografîa, categorîa, neoclasîçnî. After all, orthographies are there primarily to serve those, who already know the language, and a native speaker of Poilschi will know that these words are not pronounced like soczołogyja, żeografyja, kaciegoryja, nieokłasyczny. But sure, it won't make it easier! Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy Poilschi...
Poilschi can also be used for Wenedyk. In fact, it fits Wenedyk a lot better than it does Polish! For someone, who is familiar with one or more Romance languages but not with Polish, Wenedyk will suddenly become a lot easier to understand. Just compare the following sentence:
Dziew dzieszcządszy za czału, prokód widziar czytać i turz, kwale nacie ludzi jedziewkawą.
Deu desciondşi za cialu, procoud vidiar citait i tuir, quale nate liudi jedeucavõ.
In the Republic of the Two Crowns, the fictional country where Wenedyk is spoken (Poland's counterpart in the constructed world of Ill Bethisad), the name of this orthography is obviously not "Poilschi". It was devised in the 1870s by a young scholar, Gwilem Nikołaj Sasomętany (1850-1940), who published it in 1877 in the academic periodical Romanica Carrodunensia under the title "Nova ortografia romaniţa pro lengue vênêdcei, comoud propusta par mgr-u G.V. Sasomêntanu". Sasomętany, great-great-grandfather of the linguist and activist Żowan Sasomętany from Łódź, was a student of the famous Slevan linguist Pavel Mrác (1833-1897) at Kordyn university, and an admirer of the latter's Mrácian orthography for Slevan. In that period, the Republic had devolved into the playground of a selfish, corrupt nobility and was sick to its very foundations. Inspired by the dynamic, romantic nationalism of his professor, Sasomętany hoped to contribute to a revival of his nation by going back to its (Romance) roots. Although his "Vênêdîc sur Romaniţu", as the proposal was quickly nicknamed, met with some approval and even acclaim in academic circles, it did not generate the popular support Sasomętany had hoped for.
It was not forgotten either. In late 1880s, when a group of young nationalists were regularly gathering support (which would ultimately lead to the formation of a political party, "Demokracja Noconała", Sasomętany's orthography made it again to the news headlines. One of these young nationalists was the journalist and nobleman Tadziej Kosta-Jemilany (1862-1916). He adopted Sasomętany's ideas and made a revision of his proposed orthography; according to some, because he disliked the transcription Costa-Jemilianî of his own name, preferring Costa-Emilianû instead. In 1888 he founded a periodical, Nostra Noţein, of which he became editor-in-chief. All content of this paper, that appeared between 1888 and 1895, was written in Kosta-Jemilany's revised orthography, described in this document as variant 2. However, Kosta-Jemilany could not convince DN leader Ignacy Dynacz into adopting his proposal, even though it was said that Dynacz was pleasantly surprised by seeing his own name written as Ignaţi Dûnaic. During the years 1902-1906, when Kosta-Jemiliany was governor of Pieskłoweneda, he attempted to establish his orthography as the official administrative language in his province; however, as he met with the resistance of both his subordinates and his own party, the DN, he finally gave up, never to return to orthographic issues.
A third version of Sasomętany's original proposal was created in 1917 in Warsina by the slavist Gustaw Kolęć (1881-?). In those years, many felt disgusted by the behaviour of both Germany and Russia on the international scene. Kolęć wanted to rid Wenedyk's orthography of Slavic and German influences and automatically rediscovered Sasomętany's Romance proposal. He modified it on places where he found it impractical. After Veneda had become an independent state in 1918, he lobbied for his orthography project (described here as variant 3) to have it formally adopted by the new state, and was even invited to advocate his proposal in the Sejm. However, support for his proposal turned out minimal, and shortly thereafter, Kolęć disappeared without a trace.
Nowadays, all three versions are simply known as Sasomętanian, but they are rarely used. In Kłarmęć, a monthly paper is issued by the Soczotać Omikór Ortografie Sasomętanianu (SOOS) under the name Sur Sasomêntanianu.
Three different variations exist of this orthography. Variant 1 (Sasomętanian) is the original variant, the "standard", as far as one can call one of several versions of a constructed script or orthography "standard". The differences between this standard and the other two are subtle and have a mostly cosmetic nature.
The second variant differs from the first in a few respects. Whereas variant 1 merges ch with h and treats sz separately (as h and ş, respectively), the second variant combines them in the same way as k and cz, representing them as x. The first variant also uses x, but here it represents ks. Furthermore, whereas in variant 1 the nasal vowels ą and ę are represented as on/en before consonants (om/em before labial consonants), in variant 2 the tilde is preserved in all positions. Palatalising ẽ is written ĩ, î is written û. At last, where in variant 1 initial e represents e, in variant 2 it represents je. In the latter, j disappears almost entirely.
Variant 3, at first sight, appears quite different from the other two, but is in fact equally close to them; the differences are mostly cosmetic in nature. Non-palatalising e and y (ê and î in variants 1 and 2) are written ë and y in variant 3. Instead of õ/om/on and ẽ/em/en it writes ã/am/an and eũ/em/en. Ţ and ḑ are represented as tz and dz. Like in the second variant, ch and sz are treated as a pair, represented as ch.
Poilschi has 29 letters: three less than the Polish alphabet, which has 32 (not counting rarities like v, q, x, and not counting combinations like sz and ch). In addition to these 29 letters, Poilschi has its rarities, too: k, w and y. Besides, Poilschi has three modifiers: the tilde (used to replace ą and ę at the end of a word); the cedilla (used for palatalisation when no other means is available); and the diaeresis (used to replace je and i when preceded by a vowel).
|A B C D Ḑ E Ê F G H I Î J L M N O P Q R S Ş T Ţ U V X X̧ Z|
|Ç Ẽ Ë Ģ Ï Ļ Ņ Õ Ŗ Z̧ (K W Y)|
It would seem that because of all those cedillas Poilschi has a lot more letters than the Polish alphabet, but that is a misunderstanding. In fact, the only letters with cedillas that really belong to the alphabet are ţ, ḑ, ş, and x̧. All the other ones (z̧, ņ, ŗ, etc.) should be treated as modifications of other characters and except for ç are extremely rare. They appear only in cases like: bŗmeit, cļnoint and çtêrî (from brzmieć, klnąć and cztery).
The alphabet of variant 2 is very similar to that of variant 1, except that î is replaced with û and the characters ş and x̧ should be treated as part of the additional set. Besides, this variant has ĩ:
|A B C D Ḑ E Ê F G H I J L M N O P Q R S T Ţ U Û V X Z||Ç Ẽ Ë Ģ Ĩ Ï Ļ Ņ Õ Ŗ Ş X̧ Z̧ (K W Y)|
With 26 letters, the alphabet of Variant 3 is the shortest of the three. All letters with diacritics, except ë (which replaces ê) are moved to the additional set:
|A B C D E Ë F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V X Y Z||Ã Ç Ḑ Ģ Ï Ļ Ņ Ŗ Ş Ţ Ũ X̧ Z̧ (W)|
Now, let's take a look at how Polish can be transcribed to Poilschi...
Most vowels in Poilschi are not significantly different from their Polish counterparts. The following should be noted:
|nasal vowel||condition||variant 1||variant 2||variant 3|
|ą, 'ą||before a labial consonant||om, iom||õ, iõ||am, iam|
|before any other consonant (except w)||on, ion||õ, iõ||an, ian|
|final, or before w||õ, iõ||õ, iõ||ã, iã|
|ę, 'ę||before a labial consonant||êm, em||ẽ, ĩ||ëm, em|
|before any other consonant (except w)||ên, en||ẽ, ĩ||ën, en|
|final, or before w||ẽ, iẽ||ẽ, ĩ||ëũ, eũ|
How consonants are converted into Poilschi is shown in the table below. Whenever variants 2 or 3 differ from from variant 1, the former is shown in blue, the latter in green. Keep in mind that in variant 2 ê/î are written ê/û, in variant 3 ë/y.
|consonant||-a, -e, -y, etc.||-ia, -ie, -i, etc.||final||stand-alone|
|p, p'||pa, pê, pî||pia, pe, pi||-p (-ip)||p|
|b, b'||ba, bê, bî||bia, be, bi||-b (-ib)||b|
|f, f'||fa, fê, fî||fia, fe, fi||-f (-if)||f|
|v, v'||va, vê, vî||via, ve, vi||-u (-iu)||v|
|m, m'||ma, mê, mî||mia, me, mi||-m (-im)||m|
|t, ć||ta, tê, tî||tia, te, ti||-t, -it||t, ţ|
|d, dź||da, dê, dî||dia, de, di||-d, -id||d, ḑ|
|s, ś (sj)||sa, sê, sî||sia, se, si (shia, she, shi)||-s, -is||s, ş|
|z, ź (zj)||za, zê, zî||zia, ze, zi (zhia, zhe, zhi)||-z, -iz||z, z̧|
|n, ń||na, nê, nî||nia, ne, ni||-n, -in||n, ņ|
|k, cz (k')|| ca, chê, chî|
ca, kë, ky
| cia, ce, ci (chia, che, chi)|
cia, ce, ci (kia, ke, ki)
| -c, -ç|
|g, ż (g')||ga, ghê, ghî||gia, ge, gi (ghia, ghe, ghi)||-g, -ig||g, ģ|
|h||ha, he, hî||hia, hië, hi||-h||—|
|ch, sz (ch')|| ha, he, hî|
xa, xhe, xhû
cha, chë, chy
| şa, şe, şi (hia, hie, hi)|
xia, xe, xi (xhia, xhie, xhi)
chia, che, chi (chia, chhe, chhi)
| -h, -ş|
| h, ş|
|c, cj|| ţa, ţe, ţi|
tza, tze, tzi
| ţia, ţië, ţiï|
tzia, tzië, tziï
|dz|| ḑa, ḑe, ḑi|
dza, dze, dzi
|r, rz||ra, rê, rî||ria, re, ri||-r, -ir||r, ŗ|
|ł, l||la, lê, lî||lia, le, li||-l, -il||l, ļ|
|j||—||ja, je, ji||-i||—|
Obviously, certain sequences become impossible in Poilschi. Polish has a few examples of these "forbidden" sequences: żi in reżim and żigolak, ly in palyngologia and glyptodon. Personally, I don't see much of a problem here. After all, Polish orthography itself does not make it clear either, that the s in sinus is not the same s as the one in silny. Therefore, rêgim, gigoliac, palingologîa and gliptodon are good enough for me. If somebody really wants to make a point of it, he could eventually write rêģim, ģigoliac, palyngologîa and glyptodon instead. As for other impossible sequences, szi and jy do not occur at all in Polish. Łi and ći exist only in compounds, like: półinteligent, ćwierćinteligent. Obviously, these cases are not affected by the mechanisms that convert Polski to Poilschi, and therefore we write poulintêlighênt and tueirtintêlighênt. The sequence rzi exists only in the verb mierzić, a case similar to marznąć, where r and z are pronounced separately. Mierzić therefore is written merziit.
Problematic, however, are the sequences ri and ti: both appear frequently in Polish, albeit mostly in scientific and/or foreign vocabulary, like riksza, kariera, patriota, kwestionariusz, tiara, portier, etc. Sometimes this i is syllabic, in other cases it isn't. Depending on the context, Poilschi would represent them as rhi/thi, rî/tî, or rj/tj: rhikşa, carjera, patrîota, questjonarjuş, thiara, portjer.
Theoretically, ky and gy can be expressed in Poilschi, using chî and ghî: kycać, kynolog, androgyn would logically become chîţait, chînoliog, androghîn. Since words like these are usually of foreign origin, they may as well be written kynoliog, androgyn (chîţait seems to be the exception here).
In addition to the consonants listed in the table above, we also have a lot of consonant clusters to take care of. The following clusters behave differently from the individual consonants that form them and should therefore be treated separately:
|consonant||-a, -e, -y, etc.||-ia, -ie, -i, etc.||final||stand-alone|
|dż||—||dgia, dge, dgi||-dg||dģ|
|ks, ks'|| xa, xê, xî|
csa, csê, csû
| xia, xe, xi|
csia, cse, csi
| -x, -ix|
| x, x̧|
|ksz||—|| x̧a, x̧e, x̧i|
cxia, cxe, cxi
xha, xhe, xhi
|kw, kw'||qua, quê, quî||quia, que, qui||-q||q|
|gw, gw'||gua, guê, guî||guia, gue, gui||-gv||gv|
|tw, ćw'/tw'||tua, tuê, tuî||tuia, tue, tui||-tv||tv|
|dw, sw, zw, etc.: like tw|
|sp, śp'/sp'||spa, spê, spî||spia, spe, spi||-sp, -isp||sp|
|zb, źb'/zb'||sba, sbê, sbî||sbia, sbe, sbi||-sb, -isb||sb|
|st, ść||sta, stê, stî||stia, ste, sti||-st, -ist||st, sţ|
|zd, źdź/zdź||sda, sdê, sdî||sdia, sde, sdi||-sd, -isd||sd, sḑ|
|sk, szcz (śk'/sk')|| sca, schê, schî|
sca, skë, sky
| scia, sce, sci (schia, sche, schi)|
scia, sce, sci (skia, ske, ski)
| -sc, -sç|
|zg, żdż (źg'/zg')||sga, sghê, sghî||sgia, sge, sgi (sghia, sghe, sghi)||-sg, -isg||sģ|
|sm, śm'/sm'||sma, smê, smî||smia, sme, smi||-sm, -ism||sm|
|zm, źm'/zm'||zma, zmê, zmî||zmia, zme, zmi||-zm, -izm||zm|
|sn, śn'/sn'||sna, snê, snî||snia, sne, sni||-sn, -isn||sn|
|zn, źn'/zn'||zna, znê, znî||znia, zne, zni||-zn, -izn||zn|
|sr, śr||sra, srê, srî||sria, sre, sri||—||—|
|zr, źr/zrz||zra, zrê, zrî||zria, zre, zri||—||—|
What goes for single consonants also goes for consonant clusters: palatalisation of a consonant group can occurs under three circumstances:
It should be noted that in the second case the preceding i must follow a vowel. If the consonant or consonant cluster in question is preceded by a consonant (usually n, r or l), the i is placed in front of the latter instead. For example:
Because this orthography make it possible to palatalise any final consonant, it can also be used in cases where Polish orthography does not allow it. Since Radom, Wrocław and żółw have genitives Radomia, Wrocławia and żółwia, in Poilschi we may write: Radoim, Vroţlaiu and giouilv instead of Radom, Vroţlau and gioulv.
Now, a problem may arise when the word- or syllable-final consonant or consonant cluster is preceded by j, which in Poilschi also becomes i. How do we distinguish bajt from bać? And how do we avoid sequences like ciiis (from czyjś)? The answer to the first question is simple: we add a h to the consonant(s) that we don't want palatalised. It neutralises the palatalising effect of i. Thus, bajt, strajk, rejs and Leżajsk become baith, straich, rêish and Legiaisch. The answer to the second question is equally simple: when i is followed by one or more palatalised consonants, the resulting combination ii is replaced with ĳ. Thus, czyjś, koktajl, zajść and pójdźka become ciĳs, coctaĳl, zaĳst and pouĳdca.
Adam Mitscheviç – Pan Tadêuş, xenga I, v. 1-22 (Invocaţia)
|Original Polish||Variant 1|
Litwo! Ojczyzno moja! ty jesteś jak zdrowie;
Lituo! Oicizno moja! tî jestêis jac sdrove;
|Variant 2||Variant 3|
Lituo! Oicizno moia! tû estêis iac sdrove;
Lituo! Oicizno moja! ty jestëis jac sdrove;
Hymn "Hei Vênêdi" (based on: "Hei Sloviane")
|Variant 1||Variant 2||Variant 3|
Hei, Vênêdi, nostra lengua
Hei, Vênêdi, nostra lĩgua ne mroti ĩcoura, precoud nostrû croud fediolû pro poplu ne poulza. Vive, vive mĩit vênêdca, i siõipr viver eri. Nûlû eurian, nûle vore sur noix ne vĩcxerĩ! Cu lei lĩgue surematei grẽdi Deu noix dote. Lei nou nechi sur lu mẽdu deprĩder ne pote! V e, cõt liudi, tõt nemicour, qualû noix omnari, nostrû Deu coschinu za lour pro noix devrecari! I v sêm captour nostrour voria coilge se otrucia, crepẽit pliatre, rõpĩit ruvra, oigdẽit tiara tuta. Stamû nu fedeli, feirmi, comoud mêr costiolu. Tiara negra, devour ilu, chi e troţouir poplu!
Hei, Vënëdi, nostra lengua
Add any Polish text into the box on the left, and a script will convert it into Poilschi for you. Keep in mind that the program is not thát sophisticated: it will treat foreign words and names as if they were Polish, which may give odd results. Obviously, whisky should be written as whisky and not as vhischî, just like a Poilschi-writing Pole or Vened would rather write archeologîa than arheolioghia. Besides, the program does not recognise compound words; therefore, instead of naitpanî and pourout you should read: naţpanî, povrout (this last problem can easily be avoided by using hyphens in the source text and removing it afterwards: na-ćpany, po-wrót).
|Insert your source text here:||Transcribe:||Result:|