Sokendai Review of Cultural and Social Studies


Transcription of Polish Words into Katakana:
A Study on Perception of Word Stress

MARZEC Agnieszka

(The Graduate University of Advanced Studies,
School of Cultural and Social Studies, Department of Comparative Studies)

Key words:

transcription, katakana, Polish, prolonged sound mark, word stress

Is the generally accepted transcription of Polish words into katakana an optimal one? Could it be improved? Literature from many languages is translated into Japanese every year. Polish literature is not an exception. Proper names and certain words which are typical for Polish cannot be directly translated into Japanese and therefore are transcribed into katakana. In some cases of transcription the prolonged sound mark is used for certain sounds in Polish and in others it is not. Why is there such a difference in transcription of Polish language into katakana? Would it not be better to unify the transcription by establishing the rule of using the prolonged sound mark consistently or else removing it entirely from the transcription? This is a preliminary study which raises the question of how native speakers of the Japanese language perceive Polish lexical stress in the case of accented vowel duration and, by implication, whether or not it would be necessary to put a mark of prolongation in all transcribed words of Polish. To answer the question, ten native speakers of Japanese were asked to identify twenty-five sound samples with their various versions of transcription in katakana and to choose the version which is the most accurate one. The results show that the transcriptions without any mark of prolongation were recognized as the most accurate in 12% of the cases.