“Soft” or “Hard” Pronunciation only depends on the type of vowel that comes after the consonant. To produce a soft vowel sound when you pronounce it, simply add a "y" to a hard vowel, for example, A + Y = YA (Я). There are 10 vowels in Russian. However, when unstressed, A can sound more like eh or uh, depending on regional variations. How to pronounce Russian vowels. There are 10 vowels in Russian. The letter У is unstressed and less defined, with the lips shaped in the same blowing out manner but more loosely. To produce this sound, pull your mouth into a smile while saying ooh. They are divided into two groups: hard vowels and soft vowels. Another simple to learn letter, Ё sounds the same whether stressed or unstressed. The soft vowels are Я, Ё, Ю, И, and Е, and they render the previous consonant soft. Russian consonants, as well as Russian vowels are categorized in two groups: . Practice reading and pronouncing Russian vowels in the Phonetics section. So, which one is which? E is long and strong and sounds like yeh. Keep in mind that some Russian vowels look very similar to English vowels, but their pronunciation is very different. All rights reserved. and the famous Ы , which doesn’t have an equivalent in any other language of the world. You may already be aware that Russian has 33 letters which includes 21 consonants, 10 vowels, a hard sign and a soft sign. For example, there are no words in Russian that sound the same but have different spelling like English "might" and "mite". To produce a soft vowel sound when you pronounce it, simply add a "y" to a hard vowel, for example, A + Y = YA (Я). И sounds shorter when unstressed and longer when under stress. In this word there are four consonants: з, р, к, and л. Крысёнок (krySYOkak): baby rat. Pronunciation often gives away a foreigner. The О sounds long and clear: oh, Колесо (kaleSOH): wheel. Кусочек (kooSOHchek): a small part, small bite. It sounds shorted when unstressed. When stressed, О is pronounced as oh or even a longer sound similar to o in morning. Just like А and О, the letter Е sounds different when under stress from the way it is pronounced in an unstressed syllable. E is short and sounds more like i. Maia Nikitina is a writer and Russian language translator. The letter A is unstressed so it sounds more like uh. Яма (YAma): hole. The “soft” vowels in Russian are formed by adding a Y at the beginning of their “hard” counterpart. Of these four only з is pronounced as a soft consonant because it is the only consonant in the word that is followed by a soft sign vowel (in this case the letter е). Russian Vowel Pairs: Similarities and Differences Between Letters and Sounds. The second О, however, is under stress, and is emphasized by a longer sound o-o-oh. Vowels Most descriptions of Russian describe it as having five vowel phonemes, though there is some dispute over whether a sixth vowel, /ɨ/, is separate from /i/. Ю is stronger when stressed than when it is unstressed. Under stress, Е is ye, however, when unstressed, it is pronounced as i. Мелочь (MYElach): a small thing, something insignificant. Эхо (EHha): echo. In the Russian language the number of vowel letters and vowel sounds doesn’t coincide. The letter A is stressed so it sounds strong and clear: ah. To get the sound closest to Ы , take three fingers, put them in your mouth and try saying the English EE. 5 Tips to Improve Your Russian Pronunciation, German for Beginners: Pronunciation and Alphabet, The Sound 'Schwa' With Definition and Examples in English, M.F.A., Creative Writing, Manchester Metropolitan University, Diploma in Translation (IoLet Level 7, Russian), Chartered Institute of Linguists. Russian (ISO 639-3 rus) is an Indo-European East Slavic language spoken by about 162 million people as their first language and about another 110 million as their second language (Lewis, Simons & Fennig 2013), mainly in the Russian Federation (where it is the native language of about 80% of the population, see Berger 1998, Federal’naja sluˇzba The first О is unstressed and is pronounced as a relaxed ah or uh. The Я sounds exactly as the English sound ya. The letter И is long. They are divided into two types, “hard-indicating” and “soft-indicating”, because they indicate whether the following consonant is “hard” or “soft”. Крыса (KRYYsa): rat. The letter У is stressed and pronounced by shaping your lips as if you are blowing out a candle. There is no difference between the way Я sounds when stressed and unstressed. The rule is very simple.One consonant is “soft” if this is following by a “soft” vowel (я, ё, е, ю, и) or sign. Машина (muhSHEEna): car. Russian stressed vowel chart according to their formants and surrounding consonants, from Timberlake (2004:31, 38).C is hard (non-palatalized) consonant, Ç is soft (palatalized) consonant. They are: Another tricky thing about vowels in Russian is that some of them sound differently when not under stress. Зелёный (ziLYOniy): green. This section discusses the phonological system of standard Russian based on the Central Russian dialect. When under stress, A sounds strong and clear: Aah. Курица (KOOritsa): chicken. The letter is unstressed and is pronounced as a short i. Катя (KAHtya): Katya. Russian pronunciation rules are rather simple as compared to English. In our course you can learn how to say vowels in Russian to sound like a native speaker! They are divided into two types, “hard-indicating” and “soft-indicating”, because they indicate whether the following consonant is “hard” or “soft”. У always sounds the same, whether stressed or unstressed. Ю is unstressed and sounds shorter, the mouth doesn't move as much as when the letter Ю is stressed. By and large, Russian words will sound correctly if … Мир (MEER): peace, world. Just like A, the Russian letter О changes to a less clear uh or even ah when unstressed. Ы sounds like a cross between ee and ooh. Игра (iGRA): game. Конь (KOHn'): horse. She holds a Diploma in Translation (IoLet Level 7) from the Chartered Institute of Linguists. Vowels in Russian. Ключица (klyuCHItsa): collarbone. Ы is a tricky vowel as there is no similar sound in English. In the Russian language the number of vowel letters and vowel sounds doesn’t coincide. © Autonomous Nonprofit Organization "TV-Novosti", 2005 – 2020. The letter Ы is unstressed here and is, therefore, shorter and less defined, with some accents completely shortening it to almost no sound so that the word is pronounced as krrSYOnak. Vowel Chart: Front Central Back There are ten vowels in Russian. Keep in mind that some Russian vowels look very similar to English vowels, but their pronunciation is very different. Short or long depending on the stress, Э is similar to the English ae. Sounds like the u in the word under Аспект - [аспект] – Aspect Артист - [арт'ист] - Artist/Actor Анаконда - [aнаконда] - Anaconda Айсберг -[айсб'ерк] - Iceberg There are six vowel sounds in Russian, which means that some sounds are represented by more than one vowel. The letter Ы is under stress and pronounced as a long sound. Э is stressed and hard: ae. Ключ (KLYUCH): a key. While some people enunciate this sound and pull their lips into the shape similar to blowing out candles, others pronounce it in a more relaxed way. The letter is stressed and pronounced as yu. This chart uses frequencies to represent the basic vowel triangle of the Russian language. For example, the word МОЛОКО (milk) is pronounced as ma-la-kO, because O not under stress turns into A. 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