Sunday, December 25, 2011

Surname Saturday: Szeszycki

Exploring your Polish roots can be intimidating. This is understandable; Polish presents a number of challenges, but these challenges are not insurmountable.

One difficulty is the writing system. For Europe, Polish and other Slavic languages have a relatively large number of consonants (see The World Atlas of Language Structures). When the Latin alphabet was adapted to fit the sounds of Slavic languages like Polish and Czech, new letters and combinations of letters have to be used. Words beginning with "szcz" are enough to send anyone running for the hills. This combination of sounds is similar to the English "sh" sound followed by the English "ch" sound. Think of the phrase "Irish cheese". However, unlike English, this combination can start a word.

Knowing even a little about how these combinations are pronounced can go a long way in demystifying the language. A name like "Szeszycki" is more manageable when you realize that the "sz" is not too different from English "sh".

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