The Polish alphabet is the script of the Polish language, the basis for the Polish system of orthography. It is based on the Latin alphabet but includes certain letters with diacritics: the kreska or acute accent (?, ?, ó, ?, ?); the overdot or kropka (?); the tail or ogonek (?, ?); and the stroke (?). The letters q, v and x, which are used only in foreign words, are usually not considered part of the Polish alphabet. However, prior to the standardization of the Polish language, the letter "x" was sometimes used in place of "ks".
The letters q, v, and x are used in some foreign words and commercial names, in loanwords are often replaced by kw, w, and ks, respectively (as in kwarc "quartz", weranda "veranda", ekstra "extra", some words use in equal both versions of writing style, as veto or weto, volt or wolt, video or wideo, xero or ksero) and they take their usual positions in the Latin alphabet, so they are sometimes considered as a part of Polish alphabet and enlarge number of letters to 35.
The following table lists the letters of the alphabet, their Polish names (see also Names of letters below), the Polish phonemes which they usually represent, rough English (or other) equivalents to the sounds of those phonemes, and other possible pronunciations. Diacritics are shown for the sake of clarity. For more information about the sounds, see Polish phonology.
|Polish name||Usual value||Rough English (or
|A||a||a||large||More frontal between palatal or palatalized consonants|
|?||?||?||nasal o as own or French an in français or en in rendez-vous, or Portuguese ão in coração||[?n], , [?m]; merges with before (see Nasal vowels)|
|C||c||ce||pits||if voiced. For ch, ci, cz see Digraphs|
|?||?||cie||cheap (alveolo-palatal)||if voiced|
|D||d||de||dog||before ; when devoiced; before . For dz etc. see Digraphs|
|E||e||e||bed||between palatal or palatalized consonants|
|?||?||?||nasal e||[?n], , [?m]; merges with before and often word-finally (see Nasal vowels)|
|G||g||gie||go||when devoiced. For gi see Digraphs|
|H||h||ha||Scots loch||if voiced, may be glottal in a small number of dialects. For ch and (c)hi see Digraphs|
|I||i||i||meet||before a consonant; marks palatization of the preceding consonant before a vowel (see Spelling rules)|
|K||k||ka||king||if voiced. For ki see Digraphs|
|L||l||el||light||May be [l?] instead in eastern dialects|
|?||?||e?||will||May be instead in eastern dialects|
|M||m||em||men||before labiodental consonants|
|N||n||en||not||before /t d/; can be before /k ?/. For ni see Digraphs|
|?||?||e?||canyon (alveolo-palatal)||Can be in syllable coda|
|O||o||o||British English long||between palatal or palatalized consonants|
|Ó||ó||ó, o z kresk?, u kreskowane or u zamkni?te||put||between palatal or palatalized consonants|
|(Q)||(q)||ku||as k||Only in some traditional loanwords as quasi- and recent as quad, quiz.|
|R||r||er||trilled r||Often in fast speech. For rz see Digraphs|
|S||s||es||sea||For sz, si see Digraphs|
|?||?||e?||sheep (alveolo-palatal)||(cf. ?) if voiced|
|T||t||te||start||before ; if voiced; before .|
|U||u||u, u zwyk?e or u otwarte||put||between palatal or palatalized consonants, sometimes after vowels|
|(V)||(v)||fa?||as w or f||Only in some traditional loanwords as varsaviana, vel, vide, recent as van, Vanuatu, vlog, some acronyms as TVP, VAT and in artistic forms, as vlepka.|
|(X)||(x)||iks||/ks/||as ks||Only in some loanwords as xenia, also historical letter for native words prior to 19th century, e.g. xi, xi?stwo (now ksi "prince", ksi?stwo "duchy"), which remains in abbreviations of these words (sometimes used x. instead of ks.) and some names, as Xymena, Xawery, surnames as Xiopolski, Axentowicz, Axer and names of some companies in Poland with -ex suffix.|
|Y||y||y or igrek||||short i as in bit|
|Z||z||zet||zoo||when devoiced. For digraphs see Digraphs|
|?||?||ziet||vision (alveolo-palatal)||when devoiced. For d? see Digraphs|
|?||?||?et or zet z kropk?||vision||when devoiced. For d? see Digraphs|
É is a historical letter for native words prior to the 1891 spelling reform by the Academy of Learning, e.g. cztéry, papié? (now cztery "four", papie? "pope").
The spoken Polish names of the letters are given in the table under Letters above.
The names of the letters are not normally written out in the way shown above, except as part of certain lexicalized abbreviations, such as Pekao (or PeKaO), the name of a bank, which represents the spoken form of the abbreviation P.K.O. (for Polska Kasa Opieki).
Some letters may be referred to in alternative ways, often consisting of just the sound of the letter. For example, Y may be called y rather than igrek (from "Greek i").
When giving the spelling of words, certain letters may be said in more emphatic ways to distinguish them from other identically pronounced characters. For example, H may be referred to as samo ha ("H alone") to distinguish it from CH (ce ha). The letter ? may be called ?et (or zet) zet z kropk? ("Z with a dot") to distinguish it from RZ (er zet). The letter U may be called u otwarte ("open U", a reference to its graphical form), to distinguish it from Ó, which is sometimes called u zamkni?te ("closed U") or o kreskowane / o z kresk? ("dashed O").
Note that (unlike in languages such as French and Spanish) Polish letters with diacritics are treated as fully independent letters in alphabetical ordering. For example, by? comes after bycie. The diacritic letters also have their own sections in dictionaries (words beginning with ? are not usually listed under c).
Digraphs are not given any special treatment in alphabetical ordering. For example, ch is treated simply as c followed by h, and not as a single letter as in Czech.
There are several systems for encoding the Polish alphabet for computers. All letters of the Polish alphabet are included in Unicode, and thus Unicode-based encodings such as UTF-8 and UTF-16 can be used. The Polish alphabet is completely included in the Basic Multilingual Plane of Unicode. The standard 8-bit character encoding for the Polish alphabet is ISO 8859-2 (Latin-2), although both ISO 8859-13 (Latin-7) and ISO 8859-16 (Latin-10) encodings include glyphs of the Polish alphabet. Microsoft's format for encoding the Polish alphabet is Windows-1250.
A common test sentence containing all the Polish diacritic letters is the nonsensical Za?ó gl? ja ("Yellow the ego with/of a gusle").