Philip Newton wrote:

> I believe he was talking about pronunciation, not cognates... that is,
> "Polish ś is pronounced like Russian щ", rather than "Polish letter A
> corresponds regularly with/is cognate with/is etymologically related
> to Russian letter B".
> Which jibes with the description I've heard of Russian щ as a
> palatalised ("soft") version of Russian ш, since ś is a soft version
> of sz AFAIK.


Well, in any case, my first impression was mappings of not only
pronunciation, but also of glyph/grapheme-to-glyph/grapheme
correspondences... my bad...

As far as "what sounds like what the closest"... I think there'd
be some pretty difficult problems to really nail that answer down, since
you're talking about "plain" versus "palatalized"... as is, the
inventories (graphic/phonemic/phonetic) contrasted between Russian and
Polish are divergent:

glyph phonemic phonetic
glyph phonemic phonetic
с /s/ [s]~[sʲ]
s /s/ [s]
з /z/ [z]~[zʲ]
z /z/ [z]
ц /ʦ/ [ʦ]~[ʦʲ]
c /ʦ/ [ʦ]
ч /ʧ/ [ʧ]~[ʧʲ]
ć/cz /ʨ/ /ʧ/ [ʨ] [ʧ]
ш /ʃ/ [ʃ]~[ʃʲ]
ś/sz /ɕ/ /ʃ/ [ɕ] [ʃ]
щ /ʃʧ/ [ʃʧ]~[ʃʲʧʲ]
(ś+ć/sz+cz) /ɕ+ʨ/ /ʃ+ʧ/ [ɕ+ʨ] [ʃ+ʧ]
ж /ʒ/ [ʒ]~[ʒʲ]
ź/ż /ʑ/ /ʒ/ [ʑ] [ʒ]

Palatalization/"softening" in Russian is not only phonemic, but also
phonetically conditioned; it is not only concommitant with certain
phoneme sequences, but can also be overtly marked (or blocked) in the
orthography - hence the palatalized *and* unpalatalized versions of the
relevant Russian segments/glyphs.

The distinction in Polish, at least graphically, is, however, not
synchronically just an opposition of palatalized versus non-palatalized:

dental alveolo-palatal palatal
c /ʦ/ ć /ʨ/;
(ci-) cz /ʧ/
dz /ʣ/ dź /ʥ/;
(dzi-) dż /ʤ/
s /s/ ś /ɕ/;
(si-) sz /ʃ/
z /z/ ź /ʑ/;
(zi-) ż /ʒ/

Russian can overtly encode palatalization of a
consonant/consonant-string by use of the "soft sign" <ь> or overtly
block palatalization (triggered by vowels that automatically palatalize
preceding consonants) by the "hard sign" <ъ>... it's exactly the fact
that Russian <щ> isn't just a "soft/palatalized" version of Russian <ш>
that the claim that Russian <щ> is the same as Polish <ś> isn't quite valid.

(hrm... enough caffeine for me on a Friday...)


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