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Polish Language/Re: Pronouncing Adalbert


I've read through a previous answer on this, and understand the difference in sounds of "A" ("father" vs."fact").  I'm confused as to which syllable is emphasized.  Is it "AD-albert" or "ADAL-bert" (like "rattle-bert")?

Dear Julie,

I haven't remembered at all that I have already written something about the pronunciation of the name Adalbert. Especially that it is a really rare name in Poland. In my life time (60 years) I have never met, never heard of a person bearing that name.

What more, we are always taught that the Polish equivalent of Adalbert is Wojciech. Well, this is not exactly true.
What is true about it is that Saint Adalbert of Prague (, who is the patron saint of Poland, obtained or took this name "Adalbert" at his confirmation (which he took of course as a grown up man), to honour his tutor, the Archbishop Saint Adalbert of Magdeburg (, alo known in short as Saint Albert. But he had his own Slavic name, Wojciech (in Czech language: Vojtěch, as he was Czech, although he later became a missionary to Poland and Prussia), so in Czechia, Moravia, Slovakia, Poland, former Yugoslavia he is known as "Święty (Saint) Wojciech" (in Czech language: Svat Vojtěch, in Slovak language: Svt Vojtech, in Kashubian langiage: Switi Wjcech, in Slovenian language: Sveti Vojteh, in Croatian language: Sveti Vojtjeh). Of course, we are taught about his being "Adalbert" also, but Wojciech is a very popular name in Poland, and Adalbert a very rare one, indeed (especially that these two refer to the same saint). (His tutor's name "Albert" is fairly popular, however).

About the Czech name Vojtěch, and the Polish name Wojciech you can read at and if you are interested, but this was of course not the original purpose of your question.

If you mean the Polish pronunciation, you have to bear in mind two facts:

1) In Polish, unlike in English, this name would be divided into syllables like that:
A-dal-bert. This would be the correct separation of the word if needed at the end of line. It might seem an academic discussion for you, however, because from the point of view of pronunciation (especially of the stress) it makes (ALMOST) no difference, that's why I have written (back in 2012) that one might pronounce the Polish word "Adalbert" like the English (probably also rare) name "Adalbert".

Yet for the purpose of clear information, in Polish we do not follow the etymological (historical) principle of the division of words into syllables, but the phonetical principle - how the word is pronounced. And because of that, if within a word a consonant happens to appear between two vowels, it almost always belongs to the same syllabe with the vowel right after it, like "A-dal-bert" not "Ad-al-bert" [the rare exception being that of compound words, felt in Polish as compound, i.e. created with the use of morphemes that can function as separate words or which regularly create compound words, example "oduczyć" => "od-u-czyć" (meaning: "to unteach" in the sense "To cause to forget or unlearn something", compare Yoda's "unlearn what you have learned"), because both the verb "uczyć" (meaning "to teach") functions as a separate word, and so does the prefix "od-" ("meaning "re-", "un-") which is also a preposition "od" (meaning "from", "away", "out", "back from") - unlike the English prefixes "un-" or "re-".
If there is a two consonant cluster between two vowels, it is mostly divided (split) between the two syllables, the first consonant closes the preceding syllable, the second consonant opens the following syllable, like in "Warszawa" => "War-sza-wa"; "Poznań" => "Poz-nań"; "Lublin" => "Lub-lin" (all the three are names of Polish cities). [The last word can also correctly be split into "Lu-blin" because the second consonant is a liquid "l" - and the consonants followed by a liquid ("l", "ł", "r", or "j") or by a spirant ("s", "z", "sz", "ż", "rz", "ś", "ź", "w") form a consonant cluster pronounced "in one breath".

Remember, that Polish digraphs like "cz", "sz", "rz", "dz", "ch" are NOT considered two consonants (two-consonant clusters) because they denote one sound each, like the English digraphs: "ch" in "church", "sh" un "ashes" and the like.

Returning to the stress of "Adalbert".
2) This name being very rare, and commonly felt as a foreign name, it has kept its original (= German) place of stress, on the antepenultimate syllable (, which in this case is the first syllable.

So it is pronounced [AH-dahl-bert]. Both your notations "AD-albert" and "'ADAL-bert' (like 'rattle-bert')" to me show exactly the same pronunciation (as far as stress concerned) - I have checked in three dictionaries (for American, British and Australian pronunciations) and everywhere "rattle" is a two syllable word with the stress on the first syllable, and so "ADAL" are also two syllables, not one, with the stress on the first one.

If the name 'Adalbert" were fully assimilated into Polish, it would probably obtain the typical Polish place of the stress on the penultimate and be pronounced [ah-DAHL-bert], and it is pronounced so by uneducated people, if they ever need to pronounce such an alien name.

It is never pronounced like the French version of this name, withe th stress on the ultimate syllable [a-dal-BER:], heard at . And my Dictionary of English Proper Names shows the English pronunciation [ad'-*l-burt] on the first syllable.

I hope you are now clear,

All the best,


PS. 1/13/2017: Within the original answer of 2/10/2016, I have corrected several typos and finished one previously unfinished sentence.

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Maciej St. Ziba


I am native Polish and from time to time I teach Polish to foreigners. I know (passively of actively) more than 15 other languages - so I can answer many questions concerning Polish grammar, pronounciation, spelling, etymology and usage - as compared to English, French, German, Russian, Dutch, Esperanto or Norwegian. Also questions concerning other Slavic languages, Sanskrit, Chinese, Tibetan, or general linguistics, especially scripts (writing systems and transcriptions) - are welcome.


Teaching English, French, and Esperanto to Poles, Polish to foreigners, teaching Sanskrit, Mandarin Chinese, Classical Chinese and Tibetan. Tour Guide in English, French, Russian and German. Former President of the Regional Examination Committee for Tourist Guides (English and French)(1999-2005).

Polish Oriental Society (since 1979); International Association of Buddhist Studies (since 1986); Klingon Language Institute (since 1986); Learned Society of the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin (since 1989); Polish Philosophical Association (since 1997); Universala Esperanto-Asocio (since 1978).

Books: "Origin of the World According to Rigveda" (Montreal 1996); "Our River Bug. Creating Conditions for Development of the Border Areas of Poland, Ukraine and Belarus through Enhancement and Preservation of Natural and Cultural Heritage" (Lublin 2008); "Migration - a Challenge to the 21st century" (Lublin 2008); "Migracja zarobkowa do Woch" (Job migration to Italy) (Lublin 2008); more than 100 articles in "Powszechna Encyklopedia Filozofii" (Universal Encyclopedia od Philosophy) vol. 1-10 (Lublin 2000-2009); many more in Polish, some of them available online, see: here and here (a list up to 2012.

Studying philosophy at Catholic University of Lublin (Poland) 1976-81; PhD in Philosophy (1989). Having learned languages in Gdansk and Gdynia (Russian, Esperanto, Latin, English - International Bacalaureate), Lublin (KUL - French, German, Dutch, Sanskrit, Latin, Ancient Greek; UMCS - Chinese, Japanese; elsewhere - Esperanto, Spanish, Italian), Paris (IIAP - French; INALCO - Tibetan, Chinese, Japanese; Sorbonne - Sanskrit), Asker (Norwegian, while working in a kindergarten!), Montreal (McGill - Chinese); Rome and Venice (Italian); Taichung, Taiwan (Chinese), Shimla, India (sanskrit). Self-taught: Slavic languages (other than Polish and Russian), Hungarian, Korean, Vietnamese, Klingon and several other.

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2012 Golden Medal of Civil Service of Poland; 2012-13 Taiwan Fellowship - Tunghai University (Taichung)

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