30 October, 2005

Polish Pronounciation 101

If you've read about the history of the solution of the German Enigma machine, hopefully you'll have found out at least a little about the valuable contribution of Polish codebreakers Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Różycki and Henryk Zygalski. These mathematicians broke Enigma many years before World War II, and passed on their techniques to the British only weeks before the invasion of Poland in September 1939. This gave British codebreakers at Bletchley Park a tremendous flying-start in breaking Enigma.

That's all well and good, and is now firmly established in the literature.

But a key question remains, at least for a native English speaker: how on earth do you pronounce the names of these Polish heroes? Well, I finally grew tired of constantly butchering their names ("Marian Ray-Joo-Sky", "Jersey Rose-Icky" etc), so I asked a Polish contributor (User:Halibutt) on Wikipedia if he might record their pronounciations for me. He kindly obliged, and has so far contributed pronounciations for Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Różycki, Henryk Zygalski, Biuro Szyfrów (the Polish Cipher Bureau), Pyry (the location where the Polish passed their techniques over to the British), and Maksymilian Ciężki (head of the Cipher Bureau's German section).

To listen to the sound clips, click the link after the name on the Wikipedia article. You'll need to be able to play Ogg Vorbis files (a free audio codec), and this page gives instructions on how to do this for various common media players.

User:Halibutt might well be willing to record other Polish pronounciations if anyone has any suggestions.