Language Resources

Section II. THE RUSSIAN SOUND SYSTEM

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Correct Russian pronunciation is based on the following main principles:

1. Stressed vowels are pronounced clearly and distinctly. Stress shapes the “sound-image” of Russian words. Russian stress is shifting and so requires attention to each new word.

2. Stressed vowels stand in opposition to unstressed vowels. In contrast to stressed vowels, unstressed vowels are shorter and less distinct. In linguistics this shortening and loss of distinctness of unstressed vowels is called “vowel reduction”.

3. The vowels А, И, У, Ы occur in both stressed and unstressed position. In contemporary standard Russian, the vowels E and O occur only under stress (except in certain foreign words, such as КАКАО[какао], ПРОТЕИН[пратэин]).

  • Unstressed O becomes [A]. E.g.: БОРИС – [БАРИС].
  • Unstressed Е becomes [И]. E.g.: МЕТРО – [МИТРО].
  • Unstressed E becomes [Ы] after Ж, Ц, Ш. E.g.: ЖЕНА (wife) – [ЖЫНА], ЦЕНА (price) – [ЦЫНА], ШЕСТОЙ (sixth) – [ШЫСТОЙ].
  • The vowels И, Я (and A after a soft consonant letter) may change their pronunciation:
    • unstressed Я (and A after a soft consonant letter) becomes [И]. E.g.: ЯНВАРЬ (January) – [ИНВАРЬ], ДЕСЯТЬ (ten) – [ДЕСИТЬ], ЧAСЫ (watches) – [ЧИСЫ];
    • the vowel И is pronounced as [Ы] after Ж, Ц, Ш. E.g.: ЖИВОЙ (alive) – [ЖЫВОЙ], ЦИРК – [ЦЫРК], ШИКАРНЫЙ (chic) – [ШЫКАРНЫЙ].
  • In many cases, unstressed Э becomes a sound [Ы]. E.g.: ЭПОХА (epoch) – [ЫПОХА].

4. Hard consonant sounds stand in opposition to soft consonant sounds. A consonant is pronounced soft (or palatalized) if it is followed by a soft sign (Ь) or the vowel letters Е, Ё, Ю, Я, and И. The consonant Й, Ч,Щ are always soft. The consonant Ж, Ц, Ш are always hard.

5. Voiced consonant sounds stand in opposition to voiceless consonant sounds. The Russian consonantal system has six pairs of voiced and voiceless consonants: Б – П, В – Ф, Г – К, Д – Т, Ж – Ш, З – С. Voicing or invoicing is determined by position in the word (word final position;or in consonantal clusters).

 

§ 1. The vowels А and O


The main rule of the Russian pronunciation system requires that in unstressed position the vowel O MUST be pronounced as [A] (only shorter than stressed A).

*Note: The vowel O can only be heard when it is under stress. When the letter O occurs in the syllable before stress (pre-stressed) or in the syllable after stress (post-stressed), it is pronounced as a short A. The farther it occurs from the stress, the shorter it sounds so that in normally paced speech, it seems to almost disappear.

Study the table below. The symbol ə ("schwa") is used to designate the pronunciation of the vowel letter O in pre-pre-stressed and in post-stressed positions. The schwa indicates that the correct pronunciation of the vowel letter O in these positions is NEITHER O nor A.

Pre-stressed positions of the vowel O
Post-stressed position of the vowel O

ПРО¹ГНОЗ [пра¹гнос] (prognosis)

ОДИН [адин] (one)

ДОКТОР [доктəр] (doctor)

МО²ТО¹ЦИКЛ [мə²та¹цикл] (motorcycle)

ПО³Д  ГО²ЛО¹ВОЙ [пə³т гə²ла¹вой] (under the head)

МАССОВОСТЬ [массəвəсть](mass character)

*Note: When occurring NOT under stress, the vowel letter A is reduced.
Unstressed A and unstressed O have identical phonetic realization.

Pre-stressed positions of the vowel А
Post-stressed position of the vowel А
А¹МЕРИКА [а¹мерикə]
(America)
ВАРВАР [варвəр]
(barbarian)
КА²РА¹ВАН [кə²ра¹ван]
(caravan)
(он) ПЛАКАЛ [плакəл]
(he cried)
Attention: In an unstressed ending of feminine adjective forms (ending –АЯ) vowel А is pronounced clear.

НОВАЯ [новая]
(new; adj. f.)

Exercise 1. Listen and repeat the following words: the vowel O is under stress.

ОПЕРА (opera),  ОРГАН (organ; physiology),  ОФИС,  ОДА (ode),  ОЧИ (eyes; poetic),  ОСЛИК (small donkey),  ОБРУЧ (hoop),  ОБРАЗ [-С] (type, image),  ОЧЕНЬ (very) [очинь],  ОКНА (windows),  ОЛЯ (f. name; nickname from Ольга),  ОЗЕРО (lake).

Exercise 2. Listen and repeat the following words where the vowel O is in the pre-stressed syllables:

1. ОМЛЕТ (omelet),  ОТЕЛЬ (hotel),  ОРЕГОН,  ОКТАВА (octave),  ОРГАН (organ; musical),  ОККУПАНТ (invader, occupant),  ОТЕЦ (father),  ОСЁЛ (donkey),  ОРЁЛ (eagle),  ОДНА (alone; f.),  ОСА (wasp),  ОРЕХ (nut),  ОКНО (window),  ОШИБКА [-пк-] (mistake),  ОБЫЧНО (usually),  ОБИДА (insult, offence),  ОНЕГИН (Onegin; Pushkin’s poem Eugene Onegin),  ОТЕЛЛО (Othello).

2. КОКТЕЙЛЬ,  СПОРТСМЕН,  ЛИМОНАД [-Т],  ДИПЛОМАТ,  МОСКВА,  БОРИС,  АЭРОПОРТ,   КОРОНА (crown),  ВОСТОК (East),  ЗВОНОК (bell, ring),  МОРОЗ [-С] (frost),  ВОРОНА (crow),   ВДОВА (widow),  ВОДА (water),  ПОЙТИ (to start to go; infin.),  ПОХОЖ [-Ш] (he looks like…)   ПЛОХОЙ (bad),  ХОРОШИЙ (good),  БОЛЬШОЙ (big),  ДОРОГА (road)

3. МОНИТОР,  АВТОМОБИЛЬ [-ФТ-],  КОСМОНАВТ [-ФТ] (astronaut),  ДОРОГОЙ (expensive),  МОЛОКО (milk),  МОЛОТОК (hammer),  ПОГОВОРКА (saying),  ПОМОГУ (I’ll help),  МОЛОДОЙ (young; adj. m.),  ПОД СТОЛОМ [ПАТС-] (under the table),  ПОД МОСТОМ [ПАДМ-] (under the bridge),  СКОРОГОВОРКА (tongue twister),  ГОЛОВОЛОМКА (puzzle).  

Exercise 3. Listen and repeat the following words where the vowel O is in the post-stressed syllables:

ТРАКТОР,  ПАСТОР,  ДИРЕКТОР,  СПОНСОР,  ФАКТОР,  СЕКТОР,  ДИКТОР,  ИНСПЕКТОР,  ЛОНДОН,  ДЕМОН (demon),  ОСТРОВ [-Ф] (island),  РЫНОК (market),  АСТРОЛОГ [-К] (astrologer),  ПСИХОЛОГ [-К] (psychologist),  ГОЛОС (voice),  КОСМОС,  АТОМ,  ЗОЛОТО (gold),  ОРЛЁНОК (eaglet),  ТИГРЁНОК(tiger cub),  ПОДАРОК (gift).

МОРОЖЕНОЕ (ice-cream),  ПРОШЛОЕ (the past),  СЛАДКОЕ [-ТК-] (dessert),  НОВОЕ (new; adj. n.),  ЦЕЛОЕ (whole; adj. n.),  СТАРОЕ (old; adj. n.),  ШАМПАНСКОЕ(champagne),  НАСЕКОМОЕ (insect).

Exercise 4. Listen and repeat the following words. The vowel A is in the pre-stressed syllables:

АПТЕКАРЬ (chemist),  АВТОГРАФ [АФТ-],  КАНКАН,  СТАКАН (glass),  ПЛАНИРОВАТЬ (to plan),  ХАЛАТ (bathrobe),  ПАРЛАМЕНТ,  ФРАГМЕНТ,  ПАРКЕТ,  БАЛЕТ,  БАЛАНСИРОВАТЬ (to balance),  КАРАНДАШ (pencil), КАРАВАН.

Exercise 5. Listen and repeat the following words.The vowel A is in the post-stressed position:

ФОТОГРАФ,  ГЕОГРАФ (geographer),  ЭТНОГРАФ,  БИБЛИОГРАФ,  ПАРАГРАФ,  ТОКАРЬ (turner),  БЕТМАН,  ВАРВАР,  ПОВАР (cook),  БИБЛИОТЕКАРЬ (librarian),  ЗАПАХ (scent),  ЗАВТРАКАТЬ [-ФТ-] (to have breakfast),  ОБЕДАТЬ (to have dinner),  УЖИНАТЬ (to have supper),  СЛЕДОВАТЬ (to follow),  ПОМИЛОВАТЬ (to show mercy to),  ДВАДЦАТЬ[-Ц-] (twenty),  ТРИДЦАТЬ [-Ц-](thirty), ЕХАЛ (he rode),  РАБОТАЛ(he worked),  ПЛАКАЛ (he cried),  ДУМАЛ(he thought).

-АЯ adjective ending: НОВАЯ (new; adj. f.),  МОДНАЯ (fashion; adj. f.),  БЕЗРАБОТНАЯ (unemployed; adj. f.),  РУССКАЯ (Russian; adj. f.),  ХОЛОДНАЯ (cold; adj. f.),  ТЁМНАЯ (dark; adj. f.),  ЧАЙНАЯ (tea-room),  СТОЛОВАЯ (dining-room),  ГОСТИНАЯ (drawing-room),  ВАННАЯ (bathroom),  БУЛОЧНАЯ(bakery).

 

§ 2. The letter Й (the consonant glide Й)

 

The consonant glide [Й] is pronounced approximately like the final sound in the English words “boy”, “toy”.

 

The letter Й lacks a prototype in the Cyrillic alphabet. It was introduced into the Russian alphabet by the Academy of Sciences in 1735.

The letter Й is called “short i” (и краткое) and designates the consonantal glide sound that may also be called a “jot” (йот). In transcription, the letter [j] is often used instead of the letter [й]*.
[* We will use the letter [Й]. For more information see: Townsend, Charles. Russian Word-Formation (corrected reprint), Slavica Publishers, Inc., 1975. Pp.10-12. ]

As a consonant, Й is always soft; as a glide, it is considered a “semi-vowel”.

The letter Й appears in a word in final position or before a consonant. E.g.: МАЙ (May),  ИНТЕРЕСНЫЙ;  СТРОЙКА (building site),  нет ВОЙНЫ (no war…). Although in these positions Й is often pronounced like the vowel [и], Й never forms a separate syllable.

E.g.:
МОЙ ДРУГ (my friend)
|мой| - one syllable
МОИ ДРУЗЬЯ? (my friends)
|мо-и| - two syllables
 
ВОЙНЫ (there’s no war here)
|вой-ны|

ВОИНЫ (warriors; solders)
|во-и-ны|
 
СТРОЙКА (building site)
|строй-ка|

СТРОИТ (s/he builds)
|стро-ит|

 

In a very few foreign words the letter Й may start a word, e.g.: ЙОГ (yogi), НЬЮ-ЙОРК.

As a glide the sound [й] is a component of the vowel-sounds, which are denoted by the letters Е, Ё, Ю, and Я. In this case,we cannot see the Й-letter, but we can hear the Й-sound.

 

When the vowel Е, Ё, Ю, and Я occur

  • at the beginning of a word
  • after another vowels
  • after Ь (soft sign) and Ъ (hard sign)
they start with a distinct Й-sound

 

Exercise 6. Listen and repeat the following words with consonant Й. Please pay your attention the grammar notes before each group of the words.

Adjectives (masculine): МОЛОДОЙ (young; adj., m.),  КРАСИВЫЙ (beautiful; adj., m.),  СИНИЙ (blue; adj., m.),  УМНЫЙ (smart; adj., m.),  ПЛОХОЙ (bad, adj., m.),  ХОРОШИЙ (good; adj., m.).

Imperative forms: ПЕЙ (drink!; informal) – ПЕЙТЕ (pl.; formal),  ПОЙ (sing!; informal) – ПОЙТЕ (pl.; formal),  МОЙ (wash!; informal) – МОЙТЕ (pl.; formal),  ЧИТАЙ (read!; informal) – ЧИТАЙТЕ (pl.; formal),  РАБОТАЙ (work!; informal) – РАБОТАЙТЕ (pl.; formal),  РИСУЙ (draw!; informal) – РИСУЙТЕ (pl.; formal).

Possessive pronouns (masculine):
МОЙ (my, mine),  ТВОЙ (your, yours).

Personal pronouns: С ТОБОЙ (with you),  С НЕЙ (with her),  СО МНОЙ [самной] (with me).

Nouns: МАЙ (May),  МАЙКА (T-shirt without the sleeves),  ФЛЕЙТА (flute),  СТРУЙКА(stream; dim.),  СТРОЙКА (building site),  ЯЙЦО (egg)[ийцo],  ДЮЙМ,  НЬЮ-ЙОРК,  ЙОГА,  МУЗЕЙ,  ИНДЕЙКА,  ВОЙНА (war),  БАЛАЛАЙКА,  СМОЕЙ [смаей] СЕМЬЁЙ (with my family),  С ТВОЕЙ [стваей] МАМОЙ (with your mama),  С НАШЕЙ [снашей] НАТАШЕЙ(with our Natasha).

Etiquette words: ЗДРАВСТВУЙ(sing.) [здраствуй] – ЗДРАВСТВУЙТЕ (sing.polite;pl.),  ПОЖАЛУЙСТА[пажалуста].

 

For fun and knowledge:

Useful words
It is interesting to know
Russian word
Translation
ЗДРАВСТВУЙ
[здраствуй]
Hello!
Grammatically ЗДРАВСТВУЙ(ТЕ) is a verbal imperative form, which implies: “Be well and prosper”.

An out-of-date verb «здравствовать» means be well, prosper.
Etymologically, this verb is derived from the Church Slavonic of the noun for health.
ЗДРАВСТВУЙТЕ
[здраствуйте]
Hello!
(for a group;polite form)
ПОЖАЛУЙСТА
[пажалуста]
please
---
you are welcome
Etymologically, ПОЖАЛУЙСТА relates to the out-of-date word «жаловать», which means to give someone a present out of love.

 

Exercise 7. Listen and then read this short dialog. Pay attention to the contexts for the word ПОЖАЛУЙСТА.

 

Наташа: Ирина, пожалуйста, дай мне воды!

Ирина: Одну минуту. Вот вода.

Наташа: Спасибо!

Ирина: Пожалуйста!
Will you please give me some water?
Just a minute. There is water here.
Thank you!
You are welcome!

 

§ 3. The vowels Е, Ё, Ю, and Я. The palatalization of consonants.

 

The letters Е, Ё, Ю, and Я represent vowel-sounds, which depending on their position in the word, have the following sound values:

 

When the vowel Е, Ё, Ю, and Я occur

  • at the beginning of a word
  • after another vowels
  • after Ь (soft sign) and Ъ (hard sign)
they start with a distinct Й-sound¹

¹You can hear a distinct Й-sound more clearly when the vowels Е, Ё, Ю, Я are under stress.

Е – [Й+Э]², Ё – [Й+О], Ю – [Й+У], Я –[Й+А]

²Although standard linguistic transcription uses the symbols [e] and [je] to designate Э and Е, the symbols [э] and [йэ]will be used here to avoid possible vagueness.


 

ЕСЛИ (if) – [йэсли]

ПРИЕХАЛ (he arrived) – [прийэхəл]

СЪЕЛА (she ate up) – [c|йэлə]

ЮБКА (skirt) – [йупка]

ПОЮТ (they sing) – [пайут]

ВЬЮГА (snowstorm) – [в’йугə]

 

ЁЖ (hedgehog) – [йош]

ПРИЁМ (reception) – [прийом]

ОБЪЁМ (volume) – [аб|йом]

ЯМА (pit) – [йамə]

МАЯК (lighthouse) – [майак]

ПЬЯНСТВО (drunkenness) – [п’йанствə]


The unstressed Е and Я (if they are NOT in word final position) become [И].

When the letters Е, Ё, Ю, Я, and И occur immediatelyafter consonants, they indicate the softness (palatalization) of the latter.

VOWELS
“Hard” vowels
 
“Soft” vowels
Letters
А
O
Э
У
Ы
Я
Ё
Е
Ю
И
Pronunciation:
STRESSED
[а]
[o]
[э]
[у]
[ы]
 
[йa]
[йо]
[йэ]
[йу]
[и]
UNSTRESSED
[а]
[ə]
[a]
[ə]
[ыэ]
[у]
[ы]
[и]
 
[и]
[йу]
[и]
Function in the writing system:
Post-consonant
position
indicate hardness
of preceding consonant
 
indicate softness
of preceding consonant

In transliteration the vowels Е, Ё, Ю, and Я are written as [je], [jo], [ja], [ju] or as [ye], [yo], [ya], [yu].

 

The palatalization of consonants

Russian consonants occur in two “varieties”: “hard” and “soft” (or with the added articulatory feature of palatalization). Rather than supplying different symbols for each member of these 15 pairs, the Russian writing system assigns the same letter to both members and indicates softness or hardness by means of the vowel letter or soft/hard sign following the consonant.

Six consonants are unpaired for softness/hardness. Three of these are always hard (Ж, Ц, Ш), and three of these are always soft (Й, Ч, Щ).

Paired consonants: have both soft and hard variants
Non-palatalized (“hard”) consonants
 
Palatalized (“soft”) consonants
Russian consonant-sounds
Approximate
English sounds
Russian consonant-sounds
Approximate
English sounds
Б – буква (letter) b – baby Б’ – бюро (bureau) b’ – imbue
В – вода (water) v – very В’ – видео (video) v’ – view
Г – гамма (scale) g – go Г’ – гигант (giant) g’ – argue
Д – душа (soul) d – dog Д’ – дядя (uncle) d’ – dew
З – зонт (umbrella) z – zone З’ – зерно (grain) z’ – presume
К – касса (cashier’s desk) k – skate К’ – кит (whale) k’ – askew
Л – луна (moon) l – hall Л’ – лимон (lemon) l’ – million
М – мыло (soap) m – mother М’ – мёд (honey) m’ – muse
Н – нос (nose) n – not Н’ - нёс (he carried) n’ – news
П – папа (daddy) p – spot П’ - пять (five) p’ – spew
Р – рок (fate) r – Roberto Р’ – река (river) r’ – are you
C – сон (sleep) s – so С’ – письмо (letter) s’ – suit
Т – том (volume) t – Tom Т’ – тень (shade) t’ – stew
Ф – форт (fort) f – father Ф’ – фен (hair dryer) f’ – few
Х – хорошо (good) kh – khalla Х’– химия chemistry h’ – hue
Always HARD consonants
(have no soft pair)
Always SOFT consonants
(have no hard pair)
Ж – жена (wife) -sur- pleasure   Й – ой, музей -y- boy, yes
Ц – цирк (circus) -ts- hats Ч’ – часы (clock) -ch- cheap
Ш –машина (machine) -sh- sheep, dish Щ’ – борщ
(red-beet soup)
-shch- rash child

 

Exercise 8. Listen and repeat the following words. Pay attention to the vowels У and Ю. Try to hear the difference between them.

 
I
II
III
  утро – юрта
morning – nomad’s tent
врун – варю
liar – I cook
унылый – юный
downcast – young
  ужин – южный
dinner – southern
паук – поют
spider – they sing
сурок – брюки
woodchuck - pants
  рука – рюкзак
hand – backpack
уродливый – юродивый
extremely ugly – touched, crazy
пурга – пюре
blizzard – mashed potatoes

Ю:    а)  юбка [-пк-] (skirt),  южный (southern),  рюмка (wine-glass),  любовь [-ф’] (love),  юрта (nomad’s tent),  бирюза (turquoise),  бюрократ (bureaucrat),  люмпен (lumpen proletarian),  нюх (scent),  ювелир (jeweler),  юрист (lawyer),  трюмо (pier glass),  верблюд [-т] (camel),  Люба (f. name; nickname from Любовь),  Люда (f. name; nickname from Людмила),  читаю (I amreading),  блюдо (dish).

b)  Я тебя люблю? (I love you).  Я вас любил (I used to love you).  Они любят вас (They love you; pl.). Любимая мама (Darling mom).  Любимый колледж [-тш] (favorite college).  Моя любовь [-ф’] (My love). Мой любимый (My darling – for man).  Моя любимая (My darling – for woman).

СКОРОГОВОРКА – literally means “fast speaking” (tongue-twister):

У: Я несу? СУП-СУП! – А кому – ПСУ-ПСУ! –I am carrying soup – soup! – To whom? – To a dog – dog!

 

Exercise 9. Listen and try to hear the difference between the vowels О and Ё.

 

Attention:
Vowel Ё is always under stress.

Ё: ёлка (Christmas tree),  ёжик (small hedgehog),  приём (reception),  живёт (s/he lives),  поёт (s/he sings),  несёт (s/he carries),  осёл (donkey),  привёл (he leaded),  весёлый (cheerful),  колёса (wheels),  тёмный (dark),  бредёт (s/he trudges along),  флёр (crepe),  лёд [-т] (ice),  зёрна (grains),  звёзды (stars), идёт (s/he walks),  ждёт (s/he lives),  тётя (aunt),  гнём(we bend smth.),  мёд [-т] (honey), клён (maple).

 
I
II
III
IV
  мой – мёд [-т]
my, mine – honey

ёлка – долго
Christmas tree– long

соска – сёстры
baby’s dummy – sisters
живот – живёт
stomach, belly – s/he lives
  ворота – варёный
gates – boiled
сапёр – запор
sapper – constipation; lock
лёд[-т]-лодка[-тк-]
ice – boat
удот – идёт
hoopoe (bird) – s/he walk
  полол – полёт
he weeded – fly
принёс – занос
he brought – snow drifting
тётя – Тора
aunt – Torah
жмот (colloq) – жмёт
miser – s/he presses
  воды – вёдра
waters – bucket
лёжа–ложка[-шк-]
lying – spoon
ёжик – ожог[-к]
small hedgehog – burn
гном – гнём
gnome – we bend

 

Exercise 10. Listen and try to hear the difference between the vowels Ю and Ё.

 
I
II
III
  Людовик – лёд [-т]
Louis – ice
Лёлик – люк
nickname – hatch
пюре – пёс
mashed potatoes – dog (male)
  берёза – бирюза
birch – turquoise
Алёша – плюш
nickname, m. name – velour
брюшко (colloq) – брёвна
paunch - logs
  аллюр – аллё
allure, pace – allo (on phone)
бюро – врёт
bureau – s/he telling lies
любить – плётка
to love – lash
  варёный – варю
boiled – I cook
поют – поёт
they sing – s/he sings
любимый–лёгкий [-хк]
beloved – light
  Юра – ёрш
nickname, m. name – ruff (fish)
лёд [-т] – люди
ice – people
бирюльки – берёт
jackstraws – s/he takes

 

Exercise 11. Divide the words into three groups: (1) words with the vowel Ё; (2) words with the vowel Ю; (3) and words without the vowels Ё and Ю. Write the words in cursive; then read them aloud. Listen

бюро (bureau),  вёсла (paddles),  буря (storm),  берёт (s/he takes),  брод [-т] (ford),  рюмка (wine-glass),  друг [-к] (friend),  поёт (s/he sings),  бирюза (turquoise),  посох (stick),  пёс (dog, male),  Юра (m. name; nickname from Юрий),  лот (plumb line),  лёд [-т] (ice),  дюна (sand-dune),  дыня (melon, cantaloupe),  варёный (boiled),  ёж [-ш] (hedgehog),  ложка [-шк-] (spoon),  нос (nose),  нёс (he carried),  гнус (mosquitoes, midges),  Людмила (f. name),  верблюд [-т] (camel),  берёзка [-ск-] (small birch),  осёл (donkey),  сюрприз [-c] (surprise),  суп (soup),  сок (juice),  сёк (he slashed smth. to pieces),  сюда (to here), звон (jingle),  звук (sound),  свёкла (beet),  трюм (holdof a ship),  блюдо (dish).

 

Exercise 12. Listen and repeat the words with vowel Я. Pay attention to how the vowel Я sounds in the unstressed positions.


Stressed Я: я (I),  яма (hole),  яблоко (apple),  яркий (bright),  рядом (near),  ясно (clear),  прямо (straight),  пляж [-ш] (beach),  няня (nanny),  дядя (uncle),  прятки (game: hide-and-seek),  пять (five),  вяжет (s/he knits),   фляга (flask),  зря (in vain),  наряд [-т] (fancy dress),  приятно (nice),  поляк (man from Poland),  пятна (spots),  пляски (folk dances),  тебя (gram .form of personal pron. “ты”),  вся [фс-] (f. form of pron. “весь”).

Unstressed Я is in word final position: армия,  лекция (lecture),  авария (accident),  демократия,  апатия (apathy),  здания (buildings),  мания (mania, passion),  имя (name),  дядя (uncle),  Надя (f. name; nickname from Надежда),  старая (old; adj., f.),  новая (new; adj., f.),  хорошая (good; adj., f.),  дорогая (expensive; darling; adj., f.),  Троя (Troy), семя (seed).

Unstressed Я -> [И]: январь (January),  язык (language; tongue),  уяснил (he made out smth.),  пятачок (pig’s snout),  плясать (to dance a folk dance),  янтарь (amber),  Ямайка (Jamaica),  пояс (belt), пояснение (explanation),  пятно (spot).

 

Exercise 13. Listen and repeat the words with the unstressed Е.


Unstressed Е -> [И]: Германия (Germany),  телефон,  телеграмма,  телевизор (TV),  видео [видио],  президент,  механика,  метро,  Техас,  религия,  Вермонт,  календарь,  температура,  интересно;  Европа (Europe),  Египет (Egypt),  еда (meal, food),  ерунда (nonsense),  енот (raccoon),  ещё (still, yet, else), его [иво] (him, his; pron., m.; gram. form of «он»),  её [ийо] (her; pron.,f.;gram. form of «она»).

Unstressed Е is in word final position: варенье (preserve, jam),  печенье (pastry, biscuit),  мороженое (ice cream),  шампанское (champagne),  животное (animal),  чаепитие (tea-drinking),  чтение (reading),   общежитие (dormitory),  событие (event),  воскресение (resurrection),  воскресенье (Sunday),  собрание (meeting), здание (building),  оружие (weapon),  задание(assignment).

 

Exercise 14. Listen and repeat the following words. Pay your attention to the pronunciation of the hard and soft consonants.

 
I
II
III
IV
  мама – мя
mom – meat
был – бил
he was – he beat (past)
дача – дядя
summer house – uncle
зори – зёрна
dawn, dusk – grains
  мыл – мил
he washed – he is nice
буря – бюро
storm – bureau
дыня – динамо
melon – dynamo
закон – нельзя
law – one cannot
  мол – мёл
breakwater– he swept
бар – ребята
bar – guys, boys
удод [-т]– идёт
hoopoe (bird) – s/he walks
зубы – зюзя
(colloq.) teeth – limp person

 

 
I
II
III
  лом – лён
crowbar – flax
рыба – рис
fish – rice
сок – сёк
juice – he slashed
  калым – налим
bride-price (in the East) – burbot (fish)
рад [-т] – ряд [-т]
he is glad – row
суд[т] – всюду[фс]
law-court – everywhere
  луна – люблю
moon – I love
рука – рюкзак
harm – backpack
сырок – сироп
sweet junket – syrup
  блудный (сын) – блюдо
Prodigal (son) – dish; course
ворот – врёшь
collar – you tell lies
сад [-т] – сядь[-т’]
garden – sit down!

 

Exercise 15. Listen and repeat the following phrases.


1. Я живу на юге Америки. – I live in the south of America.

2. Моя сестра очень умная. – My sister is very smart.

3. Верблюд нёс тяжёлый рюкзак. – The camel carried a heavy backpack.

4. Юрист работает в бюро в Беркли. – The lawyer works in an office in Berkeley.

5. Я читаю поэму. – I am reading a poem.

6. Ребёнок любит борщ. – The child likes borsch (red-beet soup).

7. У Люды есть мясо и масло для ужина. – Ljuda has meat and butter for dinner.

СКОРОГОВОРКА (tongue-twister):

Мёд [-т] в лесу медведь нашёл. Мало мёду, много пчёл. – A bear found honey in the forest. Not much honey, lots of bees.

 

§ 4. The soft sign – Ь

Pronunciation of the Combinations:
consonant + Ь
consonant + Ь + consonant
consonant + Ь + vowel Е, Ё, Ю, Я, and И


The letter Ь is called “the soft sign”, as it is generally used to indicate the softness of preceding consonant, e.g.: МАТЬ (mother) – [мат’], ВОЗЬМИ (take! imper.) –[ваз’м’и].

But Ь is also used as a separation sign – to indicate the softness of consonant and to show that the following vowel-letter denotes a combination of the sound [Й] with the corresponding vowel-sound, e.g.: СЕМЬЯ (family) – [сем’йа].

In some case the use of Ь is merely traditional. E.g., after Ч, Ш at the end of feminine nouns: НОЧЬ (night) – Ч is always soft consonant; МЫШЬ (mouse) – Ш is always hard consonant.

 

Exercise 16. Listen and repeat the following words with the SOFT SIGN – Ь.


Ь is at the end of word:

 
I
II
III
IV
  кон – конь
kitty (in game)–horse (male)
брат – брать
brother – to take
гол – голь
goal – the poor
мел – мель
chalk – aground
  дан – дань
to be given – tribute
лаз [-с] – лазь[-с’]
manhole – climb! (imper)
мат – мать
obscene language -mother
корабль
ship
  стал – сталь
he became – steel
ос – ось
(lots of) wasps – axis
спор – спорь
argument – dispute! (imper)
карамель
caramel
  пуст – пусть
empty – let (particle)
бит – бить
to be beat – to beat
лён – лень
flax – laziness
соль
salt
  (до)пят – пять[дап-]
down to ankles – five
кров[ф]-кровь[ф’]
shelter – blood
раб [-п] – рябь [-п’]
slave – ripples
король
king

 

Exercise 17. Listen and repeat the following words with the SOFT SIGN – Ь.


Combination <consonant + Ь + consonant>:

нянька (nurse; colloq.),     Польша (Poland),    возьми (take! imper.),     тюрьма (prison),     нельзя (it’s impossible; one cannot),     верьте (believe! imper.),     польза (benefit),     только (only),     полька (polka, dance),    вольно (freely),     мальчик (boy),     пальчик (finger; dim.),     футбольный (soccer; adj.),     седьмой (seventh),     восьмой (eighth),     письмо (letter),     мельник (miller).

СКОРОГОВОРКА (tongue-twister):

Вёз корабль карамель, наскочил корабль на мель, и матросы две недели карамель на мели ели. – The ship was carrying caramel, the ship ran aground, and the sailors ate caramel for two weeks.

 

Exercise 18. Listen and repeat the words. Pay attention to the combinations of consonants and vowels with the SOFT SIGN – Ь.


Combination <consonant + Ь + vowel Е, Ё, Ю, Я, and И >:

  1. ЛА – ЛЯ - ЛЬЯ ПА – ПЯ – ПЬЯ ЧИ – ЧЬИ
  ЛО – ЛЁ – ЛЬЁ МА – МЯ – МЬЯ ЧА – ЧЬЯ
  ЛУ – ЛЮ – ЛЬЮ БУ – БЮ – БЬЮ ЧЁ [ЧО] – ЧЬЁ

 

  2. ЛАК – ЛЯГ[к] – ИЛЬЯ
lacquer – lie down! (imper.) – Elijah (m. name)
 
СЕ?МЯ – СЕМЬЯ
seed – family
 
  ПИЛОТ – САМОЛЁТ – САМА ЛЬЁТ
pilot – airplane – it pours by itself
 
ПАПА – ПЯТЫЙ – ПЬЯНЫЙ
dad – fifth – drunk
 
  ЛУК – ЛЮК – ЛЬЮ
onion – hatch – I am pouring
 
БАРЫЙ – БЮРОБЬЮТ
Brown – bureau – (they) beat
 
  СУДИСУДЬИ
judge! (imper.) – judges
 

ПЛАТЯПЛАТЬЯ
paying – dresses
 

 

Exercise 19. Listen and write out the words with the soft sign Ь.

 

друзья (friends),     пьян (drunk),     полёт (fly),     пятый (fifth),     полью (I’ll water smth.),     льёт (s/he pours),     лёд [-т] (ice),     пьёт (s/he drinks),     бьёт (s/he beats),     стулья (chairs),     обезьяна (monkey),     чья (whose; f.),     селёдка [-тк-] (herring),     бульон [бульён] (bouillon, clear soup),     кальян (hookah),     пью (I drink),     бью (I beat),     Люда (f. name),     вью (I twist smth.),     лью (I pour),     шьёт (s/he sews),     чьих [ч’йих] (whose; pl.),     компьютер (computer),     волна (wave),     вольный (free; unrestricted).

 

§ 5. The hard sign – Ъ

Pronunciation of the Combinations:
consonant + Ъ + vowel-letters Е, Ё, Ю, Я


The letter “hard sign” Ъ is used in Russian writing system only as a separation sign – to show the hardness of preceding consonant. Ъ is spelled only before the vowel-letters Е, Ё, Ю, Я in the following cases:

In Russian words between a prefix and a root of a word, when the last letter of the prefix is a consonant and the first letter of the root is one from them: Е, Ё, Ю, or Я. E.g.:

ПОДЪЕЗД (front door, entry)
ПОД+Ъ+ЕЗД – where “ПОД-” is the prefix, and “-ЕЗД-” is the root

ОБЪЯСНИТЬ (to explain)
ОБ+Ъ+ЯСН+ИТЬ – where “ОБ-“ is the prefix, and “-ЯСН-” is the root

In foreign words between prefix and root. E.g.:

СУБЪЕКТ (subject) ОБЪЕКТ (object)
АДЪЮТАНТ (adjutant) ИНЪЕКЦИЯ (injection)
КОНЪЮНКЦИЯ (conjunction; and function)

Exercise 20. Listen and repeat the words. Pay attention to the pronunciation of the combinations of consonants and vowels with the HARD sign (Ъ).


субъект [суб|йэкт] (subject; a person, colloq.),     объект [аб|йэкт] (object),     съехал [с|йэхал] (he rode down),     съел [с|йэл] (he ate up),     объехал [аб|йэхал] (he drove around),     объел [аб|йэл] (he nibbled at smth.),     объективный [аб|иктивный] (objective),     субъективный [суб|иктивный] (subjective),     объяснил [аб|иснил] (he explained),     разъяснил [раз|иснил] (he clarified),     объём [аб|йом] (volume),     съёмка [с|йомка] (filming, shooting),     съёмный [с|йомный] (removable).

Exercise 21. Listen and repeat the following phrases. Pay attention to the soft sign Ь and the hard sign Ъ!


1. Илья продал име?нье. – Il’ja sold his land.

2. Ольга смотрела на волны. – Ol’ga looked at the waves.

3. Мы объехали весь город [-т]. – We drove around the whole city.

4. Эти люди льют сталь. – These people pour steel.

5. Дети сели за стол и съели весь бульон. – The children sat down to table and ate the bouillon.

6. Льёт сильный дождь на лёд [-т]. –A hard rain is pouring on the ice.

7. Друзья много пьют. – The friends drink a lot.

8. Судья объяснил всё [фс-]. – The judge explained everything.

9. Друзья взяли стулья и кальян. – The friends took the chairs and hookah.

10. Пьяный субъект бьёт обезьяну. – The drunk person is beating a monkey.

 

§ 6. Review (§§ 3, 4, 5)

 

Exercise 22. Listen and write out the words with the soft sign Ь.


Ю
ра (m. name),     пять (five),     полёт (fly),     объел (he nibbled at smth.),     чья (whose),     стулья (chairs),     объект (object),     лью (I pour),     люк (hatch),     семя (seed),     мать (mother),     объём (volume),     семья (family),     пьян (drunk),     пятый (fifth),     бульон [бульён] (bouillon),     балон (bottle),     пью (I drink),    возьми (take! imper.),     бьют (they beat).

Exercise 23. Listen and repeat the following words and phrases with the vowels Е, Ё, Э, Ю, Я.


1/
яблоко (apple),   это (this),   армия (army),   всё [фс-] (everything),   демократия (democracy),   юрист (lawyer),   приятный (nice),   союз [-с] (union),   тяжёлый (heavy),   уют (comfort),   ёлка (Christmas tree),   революция, пляж [-ш] (beach),   соседнюю (next; adj. f. gram.f.),   поёт (s/he sings),   пьёт (s/he drinks),   енот (raccoon),   южный (southern),   дую (I blow),   зелёное (green; adj., n.),   каюта (ship’s cabin),   эхо (echo),   яшма (jasper),   твоё (yours),   брюнет (brunette),   имя (name),   играю (I play),   Юра (m. name),   Люся (f. name),   интересный (interesting),   еду (I ride),   моя (mine; f.),   Яша (m. name),   поэма (poem),   Юля (f. name),   эпос (epos, epic poem),   приём (reception),   юла (top; toy),   рюмка (wine-glass),   ерёза (birch),   рюкзак (backpack),   ясно (clear),   объёмный (volumetric),   Ельцин.

 
I
II
  2/ Я ем яблоко.
I am eating an apple.
 
IТвоё имя интере?сное.
Your name is interesting.
 
  Дует южный ветер.
The south wind is blowing.
 
Ёлка на пляже.
The Christmas tree is on the beach.
 
  Люся и Юра юристы.
Ljusja and Jura are lawyers.
 
Брюнет пьёт и поёт в каюте.
A brunette is drinking and singing in the ship’s cabin.
 
  Всё [фс-] ясно.
Everything is clear.
 
Демократия и революция.
Democracy and revolution.
 
  У Яши тяжёлый рюкзак.
Jasha has a heavy backpack.
 
Зелёная берёза.
Green birch.
 

 

  3/ Вызывает удивленье
Прилежание тюленье:
Целый день
Лежит тюлень
И ему лежать не лень.
Жаль, тюленье прилежание –
Не пример для подражанья.
                              /Б. Заходер/
The sea lion’s diligence
Provokes amazement.
All day long the sea lion lies
And likes lying.
Alas, the sea lion’s diligence
Is not an exemplary example.
  Мне сказала тётя Оля,
Что [што] её котёнок болен.
Отнесу ему бульон,
Может, вылечится он.
                              /Е. Сафронова/
 
Aunt Olja told me
That her kitten is ill.
I am going to bring him soup.
Maybe he will get well.
  Белый пудель
Людин пудель,
Нёс на блюде
Сладкий [-тк-] пудинг [-к].
Белый пудель,
Людин пёс
Целый пудинг [-к]
Люде нёс.
                              /Л. Мезинов/
The white poodle
Ljuda’s poodle
Carried sweet pudding
On a plate.
The white poodle
Ljuda’s dog
Carried the whole pudding
To Ljuda.

 

 

§ 7. The consonants Ч and Щ


The consonant-letters Ч and Щ always represent soft sounds [Ч’], [Щ’].

 
We spell the combinations:
We hear the stressed vowels as:
 

ЧА:    ЧАШКА (cup)

ЩА:   ПИЩАТЬ (to peep)
 

Я ШКА]

[ПИЩ Я ТЬ]
 

  ЧО:     ПЛЕЧО (shoulder)
 
[ПЛИЧ Ё]
 
 

ЧУ:     ЧУДО (miracle)

ЩУ:    ЩУКА (pike; fish)

Ю ДА]

Ю КА]

 

The sound [Ч’] is cued by the letter Ч, and the combinations ТЧЛЁТЧИК [лёчик] (pilot); ДЧРАЗВЕДЧИК [развечик] (intelligence agent).

 

Exercise 24. The consonant [Ч’] is always “soft” that is, it is palatalized. Listen and repeat the following words and phrases.


1.
ТЯ - ЧА,     ТЁ – ЧЁ,     ТЮ – ЧУ [чю].

ТИ – ЧИ,     ТЕ – ЧЕ.

АТЬ – АЧ,     ОТЬ – ОЧ,     УТЬ – УЧ,     ИТЬ – ИЧ,     ЕТЬ – ЕЧ.

ТЕМ – ЧЕМ,     ТЕХ – ЧЕХ,     ТЕСНЫЙ (tight) – ЧЕСТНЫЙ [че?сный] (honest),     ВЕТЕР (wind)– ВЕЧЕР (evening),     ЗАТЕМ (then, next) – ЗАЧЕМ (what for?),     ЛЕТИ (fly! imper.)– ЛЕЧИ (treat medically! imper.),     ТИХО (quietly) – ЧИТАТЬ (to read),     ТЯНИ (stretch! imper.)– ЧИНИ (repair! imper.),     АРТИСТ (artist) –ЧИСТ (clean),    ПЕТЬ (to sing) – ПЕЧЬ (to bake),     МЯТЬ (to rumple)– МЯЧ (ball),     ВРАТЬ (to tell lies) – ВРАЧ (doctor),     ДАЙ (give! imper.) – ЧАЙ (tea), ЧАТ (chat).

2. Сильный ветер (strong wind) – тёплый вечер (warm evening).

Он честный [чесный] человек [чилавек]. – He is an honorable person.

Врач не врёт. – A doctor does not lie.

Он может печь и петь. – He can bake and sing.

Вечером играл в мяч. – In the evening he played ball.

Чей чай и чайник? – Whose are these tea and teapot?

  3. Моем, моем трубочиста
Чисто, чисто, чисто, чисто.
Будет, будет трубочист
Чист, чист, чист.
                              /К. Чуковский/
We wash, we wash the chimney sweep
Clean, clean, clean, clean.
The chimney sweep will be
Clean, clean, clean.

 

Attention:
When unstressed the combinations ЧА and ЧЕ are pronounced as [ЧИ].

ЧАСЫ (clock, watch) [ЧИСЫ]               ЧЕСНОК (garlic) [ЧИСНОК]

 

Exercise 25. Listen and repeat the following words. Attention: the combinations ЧА and ЧЕ with the unstressed vowels.


ПЛАТОЧЕК (kerchief; dim.),     МЕШОЧЕК (bag; dim.),     ЧАСОВНЯ (chapel),     ЧЕЛОВЕК (person, men),     ЧЕРЕПАХА (turtle),     ЧЕТВЕРГ [-К] (Thursday),     ЧЕРНИКА (blueberries),     ОЧЕРЕДЬ [-Т’] (line),     ОЧАРОВАТЬ (to charm; perf.),     ЧАСТИЦА (particle),     ЧАСЫ (clock, watch).

СКОРОГОВОРКА (tongue-twister):

Чеpепахa, не скучая, чaс сидит зa чашкой чая. – Not bored, the turtle sits with a cup of tea for a whole hour.

The consonant [Щ’] is cued by the letter Щ and the combinations СЧ – СЧАСТЬЕ [щаастье] (happiness);     ЖЧ – МУЖЧИНА [мущина] (man);     ЗЧ – ГРУЗЧИК [грущик] (dock worker).

 

Exercise 26. The consonant [Щ’] is always “soft,” that is, it is palatalized. Listen and repeat the following words and phrases.


1/
ЩИ – ЩИ,     ИЩИ – ИЩИ
ЩИТ (shield),     ВЕЩИ (things),     ТАЩИ (pull, drag! imper.),     ПИЩИ (chirp, peep! imper.),     ЖЕНЩИНА [жен’щина] (woman).
ЩЕ – ЩЕ
ЩЕЛЬ (crack),     ЩЕПКА (chip),     ЩЕКА (cheek),     ЩЕДРЫЙ (generous).
ЩЁ – [ЩО],     ЩО;     ЩЁТКА (brush),     ЩЁКИ (cheeks),     ЕЩЁ (also, more, still),     ТРЕЩОТКА (rattle).
ЩА – ЩА
ПЛАЩА (I don’t have a raincoat),     СООБЩА [саа-] (jointly),     ЧАЩА (dense forest),    УГОЩАТЬ (to treat; e.g. treat to dinner),     ПОЩАДА (mercy),     ПЛОЩАДЬ [площить](square).
ЩУ – ЩУ
(я) ИЩУ (I am looking for),     ЩУКА (pike, fish),     я) ЗАСВИЩУ (I’ll whistle),    (я) ПРОЩУ (I’ll forgive).

2/ весь (all, the whole) – вещь (thing);     сели (they sat down) – щели (cracks);     (он) носил (he carried) – (он) тащил (he pulled, dragged);     носи (carry, bear! imper.) – щи (cabbage soup);     (я) сяду (I’ll sit down) – пощада(mercy).

3/ овощи (vegetables),     сущий (existing),     мощный (powerful), изящный (graceful);     плащ (raincoat),     борщ (red-beet soup),     плющ (ivy),     лещ (bream, fish),     вещь (thing),     мощь (power, might).

4/ счастье (happiness) – [щ]астье;     с чаем (with tea) – [ща]ем;     считать (to count) – [щ]итать;     сосчитать (to finish counting) – со[щ]итать;     мужчина(man) – му[щ]ина,     грузчик (dock worker) – гру[щ]ик.

5/ ПОГОВОРКИ (proverbs):
Щи да каша – пища наша. - Cabbage soup and porridge are our native food.
На вкус [фк-] и цвет товарища нет. - To each his own.

Attention:
The unstressed combinations ЩА, ЩЕ, СЧА, СЧЕ are pronounced as [ЩИ].

ПЛОЩАДЬ (square) [ПЛОЩИТЬ]
ЩЕКА (cheek) [ЩИКА]
СЧАСТЛИВЫЙ (happy; adj.)
[ЩИСЛИВЫЙ]
РАСЧЕСАТЬ (to comb)
[РАЩИСАТЬ]

 

Exercise 27. Listen and repeat the following words. Attention: the combinations ЩА and ЩЕ with unstressed vowels.


ЩЕНОК (puppy), ЩЕКА (cheek), ПЛОЩАДЬ [-ть] (square), ПИЩЕВОЙ (food; adj.), РАСЧЕСАТЬ (to comp; perf.), НА ЩЕКЕ (on one’s cheek), СЧАСТЛИВЫЙ (happy; adj.).

СКОРОГОВОРКА (tongue-twister)

Два щенка щекой к щеке щиплют щётку в уголке. – In the corner cheek to cheek two puppies pinch a broom.

 

§ 8. The vowels И and Ы


Exercise 28. Read the following words. Compare the pronunciations of the vowels У, O, and Ы. Listen

  1. дум – дом – дым      →
lot of thoughts – house– smoke
 
мул – мол – мыл     →
mule-breakwater–he washed
 
зовут – вол – выл
they call – ox – he screamed
 
  2. тут – тот – ты      →
here – that – you (sg.)
 
буква – бок – бык      →
letter – side – bull
 
строфу –строфой –строфы
declination forms of noun “stanza”
 
  3. сух – сон – сын      →
dry – sleep, dream – son
пуст – пол – пыл      →
empty – floor – ardor, heat
столу – столом – столы
declination forms of noun “table”

 

Exercise 29. Listen to the following syllables and words. Try to hear the difference between the [И]-sound and [Ы]-sound. Repeat the words.

 
I
II
III
  МИ – МЫ (we)
 
БИ – БЫ
 
ВИ – ВЫ (you; pl.)
 
  МИЛ – МЫЛ
he is nice – he washed
 
БИЛ – БЫЛ
he beat (past) – he was
 
ВИЛ – ВЫЛ
he twisted smth.– he screamed
 
  МЫ ЛА – МЫ ЛО
woman’s name – soap
БИСТРО – БЫ СТРО
bistro, cafe – quick, fast
ВЫ ЛКА – ВЫ ШКА
fork – watch-tower

  ЛЫ – ЛИ
 
СЫ – СИ
 
ТЫ (you; sg.) – ТИ
 
  ЛЫС (bald) – ЛИСА (fox)
 
СЫР (cheese) – СИР
 
ТЫН (type of fence) – ТИН
 
  ЛЫСЫЙ – ЛИ?СИЙ
bald – foxy
СЫРОЙ – КАССИР
damp – cashier
СТИЛЬ – ТЫЛ
style – rear (military)

  ПЫ – ПИ
 
ФИ – ФЫ
 
РЫ – РИ
 
  ПЫЛ – ПИЛ
ardor, heat – he drank
 
ФИНН – ФЫРК
Finnish
 
РЫБА – РИС
fish – rice
 
  ПИТАТЬ – ПЫТАТЬ
to feed – to torture
ЭФИР – ШКАФЫ
ether – bookcases
КРЫМ – РИМ
Crimea – Rome

 
ДЫ – ДИ
 
ЗЫ – ЗИ
 
  ДЫМ (smoke) – ДИМА (nickname from Дмитрий)
 
ЗЫЛ – ЗИЛ
 
  ДЫМНЫЙ (smoky) – ДИВНЫЙ (wonderful) РОЗЫ (roses) – ЗИМНИЙ (winter; adj.)

 

Exercise 29 [30]. Divide the following words into three groups: Listen

- words with the sound [И];
- words with the sound [Ы];
- words with the sound [Й].

лейка (watering can),     цирк (circus),     майка (T-shirt),     лимон (lemon),     сирота (orphan),     мой (my, mine),     май (May),     сын (son),     флейта (flute),     возьми (take! imper.),     сыр (cheese),     музей (museum),     мышь (mouse),     дикий (wild),     мишка (teddy bear),     чайник (teakettle),     Илья (m. name),     бей (beat! imper.),     жираф (giraffe),     пей (drink! imper.),         сырой (damp),     пой (sing! imper.),     суди (judge! imper.),     зайка (small hare),     твой (your, yours),     живу (I live),     игра (game),     жена (wife),     чай (tea),     извините (excuse me; I am sorry).

 

§ 9. The consonants Ж, Ц, and Ш


The consonant-letters Ж, Ц, and Ш represent hard sounds [Ж], [Ц] and [Ш].

 
We spell the combinations:
 
We hear vowels after Ж, Ц, Ш as:
 
  ЖИ: ЖИТЬ (to live), я ЖИВУ (I live)

ШИ: МАШИНА, ШИРОКИЙ (wide)

ЦИ: ЦИРК (circus), ПОРЦИЯ (portion)
 
[ЖЫТ’], [ЖЫВУ]

[МАШЫНА], [ШЫРОКИЙ]

[ЦЫРК], [ПОРЦЫЯ]
 
  ЖЕ: ЖЕСТ (gesture) – ЖЕСТОКИЙ (cruel)

ШЕ: ШЕСТЬ (six) – ШЕСТОЙ (sixth)

ЦЕ: ЦЕНЫ (prices) – ЦЕНА (price)
 
[ЖЭСТ] – [ЖЫСТОКИЙ]

[ШЭС’Т’] – [ШЫСТОЙ]

ЭНЫ] – [ЦЫНА]
 
  ЖЁ: ЖЁЛТЫЙ (yellow)

ШЁ: он ПРИШЁЛ (he came)
ОЛТЫЙ]

[ПРИШОЛ]

 

Exercise 31. Try to pronounce the consonants [Ж], [Ш]. Listen and repeat.

When you pronounce the sounds [Ж] and [Ш], the tip of the tongue is raised to the alveoli and the front of the hard palate. The back of the tongue is raised to the soft palate. The middle of the tongue is bent downwards. In other words, the tongue is shaped like a spoon. The lips are moved slightly forward.


1/
Ш – Ш – Ш // Ж – Ж – Ж
ШУ – ШУ – ШУ // ЖУ – ЖУ – ЖУ
ШУМ (noise) – ШУТКА (joke) – ЖУТКО (frighteningly)

ПИШУ (I write) – СИЖУ (I am sitting)
НОШУ (I carry) – НОЖУ (“to knife”)

ШО – ШО – ШО // ЖО – ЖО – ЖО
[ШО] ШЁ – ШЁ – ШЁ // [ЖО] ЖЁ – ЖЁ – Ж Ё
ШОК (shock) – ЖЁГ [-к] (he) burnt)
ШЁЛК (silk) – ЖЁЛТЫЙ (yellow)
МЕШОК (bag) – КРУЖОК (small circle)

ША – ША – ША // ЖА – ЖА – ЖА
ШАР (ball) – ЖАРА (heat)
САША (nickname from Александр/Александра) – САЖА (soot)
ШАЛОСТЬ (prank) – ЖАЛОСТЬ (pity)

[ШЫ] ШИ – ШИ – ШИ // [ЖЫ] ЖИ – ЖИ – ЖИ
ШИЛА (she sewed) – ЖИЛА (she lived)
УШИ (ears) – УЖИ (grass-snakes)
ТУШИТЬ (to extinguish a fire, etc.) – ТУЖИТЬ (to grieve; colloq.)

2/ КША – КШО – КШУ – КШЕ
ГЖА – ГЖО – ГЖУ – ГЖЕ
К ШЕФУ (to a boss) – К ШКАФУ (to a closet)
ЖУК  ЖУЖЖИТ (beetle is buzzing)
К ЖИЗНИ [гжызни] – (he got used to life in country)
ДРУГ [-к] ЖОРЫ (Zhora’s friend; Zhora – nickname from Георгий (George)

СКОРОГОВОРКА (tongue-twisters):

Уже ужи в луже. – The grass snakes are already in the puddle.

Шла Саша по шоссе [пашыссе], несла сушку на шесте [нашысте]. – Sasha (a girl) walked down the road and carried bread crusts on a switch.

Ц is a compound consonant: in beginning to pronounce this consonant, the tongue stops the air-stream completely, but then moves slightly back leaving a narrow passage. The consonant Ц is therefore similar to [ТС].

The consonant [Ц] is cued the letter Ц and the combinations ТЦ – ОТЦЫ [ацы] (fathers); ДЦ – ДВАДЦАТЬ [двацат’] (twenty); ТС – ДЕТСКИЙ [децкий] (children’s; adj.); ТСЯ, ТЬСЯ* – он УЧИТСЯ [учица] (he studies); УЧИТЬСЯ [учица] (to study; inf.).

*Note: -ТСЯ is a verbal ending for the 3rd person form (in the present and future tenses); e.g.: he/she studies – он/она учится; they study – они учатся.
-ТЬСЯ is a verbal infinitive ending; e.g.: to study – учиться.

 

Exercise 32. Read the following words. Pay attention to how to pronounce the combinations: Listen

- ЖИ, ШИ, ЦИ, ЦЫ > [жы, шы, цы];
- unstressed combinations ЖЕ, ШЕ, ЦЕ > [жы, шы, цы];
- unstressed combinations ЖА > [жы].

ужи (grass snakes),     пляжи (beaches, pl.),     жена (wife),     широкий (wide),     жизнь (life),     шестой (sixtieth),     цена (price),     целовать (to kiss),     живой (alive),     жасмин (jasmine),     жалеть (to pity, to feel sorry),     цинизм (cynicism),     желание (desire),    шина (tire),     шедевр (masterpiece),     шоссе [шы-] (highway),     цирк (circus),     цыган (Gypsy),     ножи (knives, pl.), гаражи (garages, pl.);     Я ЖЕЛАЮ УДАЧИ (I wish good luck).

 

Exercise 33. Read the following words. What do they mean? Listen

 
Remember:
Hint: when the English word has the ending –TION,
the Russian word has the ending –ЦИЯ [цыя].
 

 
I
II
III
  революция нация also: полиция
  эволюция функция Франция (France)
  информация реакция  
  демонстрация операция  
  организация ситуация  
  иллюстрация коллекция  
  цивилизация инфляция  

 

Exercise 34. Read the following words. Pay attention to the sound [Ц] in various positions. Listen


СТОЛИЦА (capital city),     ЛИЦО (face),     ЦЕНТР,     АКЦЕНТ,     ЦИТАТА (quotation),     ТУРЦИЯ (Turkey),     СТРАНИЦА (page),     ЦЕНА (price),     МЕСЯЦ (month).

С ОТЦОМ [са-] (with father),     К ОТЦУ [ка-] (toward to father),     ДВАДЦАТЬ (twenty),     УЛЫБАТЬСЯ (to smile),     ОНА УЛЫБАЕТСЯ (she is smiling),     УЧИТЬСЯ (to study),     ОН УЧИТСЯ (he studies),     ТРИДЦАТЬ (thirty),     ЦЕЛОВАТЬСЯ (to kiss),     ОНИ ЦЕЛУЮТСЯ (they are kissing),     ТРУДИТЬСЯ (to labor, to work),     ОН ТРУДИТСЯ (he is working),     ДЕТСКИЙ (children’s; adj.).

 

Exercise 35. Read and repeat the following texts: С ч и т а л к а. Listen


италка – [щ]италка – children’s counting rhymes
сосчитаем – со[щ]итаем – let’s count;    вкасным – [фк]асным – tasty

  Раз, два
Три, четыре.
Сосчитаем
Дыры в сыре.
Если в сыре
Много дыр,
Значит,
Вкусным
Будет сыр.
Если в нём
Одна дыра,
Значит,
Вкусным
Был вчера.
                /В. Левин/
One, two,
Three, four.
Let’s count
The holes in cheese.
If there are a lot of holes
In the cheese,
It means
The cheese
Will be tasty.
If there is
Only one hole in the cheese,
It means
The cheese
Was tasty
Yesterday.

 

СКОРОГОВОРКА (tongue-twister):

Мы услыхали от совы, что нету слов [-ф] нa букву Ы. – We heard from the owl that no words start with the letter Ы.
Мама мыла Милу мылом. Мила мыло не любила. – Mama washed Mila with soap. Mila did not like soap.

 

Exercise 36. Read the following Russian sayings (proverbs). Pay attention to [Ы] and [И]. Listen


1. Кто был в Москве, тот знает Россию. – Whoever has been to Moscow knows Russia.

2. Попытка – не пытка. – An attempt is not torture.

3. Рыбак рыбака видит издалека. – One fisherman sees another from afar.

4. Первый блин комом. – The first pancake always balls up.

 

§ 10. The voiced and unvoiced consonants


There are six pairs of voiced and unvoiced consonants in Russian:

Voiced Б В Г Д Ж З
Voiceless П Ф К Т Ш С


In addition, there are nine consonants not paired for voicing. Of these five are always voiced, and four are always unvoiced:
The voiced group: Й, Л, М, Н, Р.
The unvoiced group: Х, Ц, Ч, Щ.

 

Exercise 37. Listen and repeat the words. Try to hear the difference between the consonants.

 
I
 
II
  ЗУБИК – СУПИК
tooth (dim.) – soup (dim.)
 
  ШИНА – ЖЕНА [жына]
tire – wife
 
  БОЧКА – ПОЧКА
barrel – bud
 
  ЗОНТ – СОН
umbrella – sleep, dream
 
  БОМБА – ПОРТ
bomb – port
 
 

ПАПОЧКА – БАБОЧКА
daddy – butterfly
 

  ДЕЛО – ТЕЛО
matter – body
 
  ГОРА – КОРА
mountain – bark, rind
 
  ФАЗА – ВАЗА
phase – vase
 
  ГУСЬ – КУСОК
goose – piece
 
  УТОЧКА – УДОЧКА
duck (dim.) – fishing rod
  ЖИРНЫЙ – ШИРОКИЙ
fatty – wide

 

RULE:
VOICED CONSONANTS ARE PRONOUNCED UNVOICED
IN WORD FINAL POSITION

  Б → П Д → Т  
  В → Ф Ж → Ш  
  Г → К З → С  

Examples: КЛУБ – [КЛУП]
                  БЛЮЗ –[БЛЮС]

 

Exercise 38. Listen and repeat the following words. Pay attention to how to pronounce the final consonant-sound.

 
I
II
III
IV
V
VI
  клуб [-п]
club
лев [-ф]
lion
друг [-к]
friend
мёд [-т]
honey
Париж[-ш]
Paris
глаз [-с]
eye
  хлеб [-п]
bread
остров[ф]
island
биолог [-к]
biologist
парад [-т]
parade
массаж[ш] прогноз[-с]
  микроб[п] Чехов [ф]
Chekhov
снег [-к]
snow
город [-т]
city
гараж [-ш] блюз [-с]
  голубь[п’]
pigeon
кровь[ф’]
blood
Гамбург[к]
Hamburg
изгород[т’]
hedge
пляж [-ш]
beach
[ф]вскользь[с']
in passing

 

Exercise 39. Listen and repeat the following words.

RULE:
THE COMBINATION
“VOICED CONSONANT + UNVOICED CONSONANT”
BOTH ARE PRONOUNCED UNVOICED

(“Regressive Assimilation for Unvoicing”)

Example: ЛОЖКА– (Ж+К) → [ШК] – [лошка] (spoon)

 

  ложка – Ж+К → [-ШК-]
spoon
француузский – З+С → [-CC-]
French
  пирожки – Ж+К → [-ШК-]
pastries
автор – В+Т → [-ФТ-]
author
  губка – Б+К → [-ПК-]
sponge
автомат – В+Т → [-ФТ-]
any automatic device
  лодка – Д+К → [-ТК-]
boat
вход – В+Х → [ФХ-]
entrance
  блузка – З+К → [-СК-]
(lady’s) blouse
сладкий – Д+К→ [-ТК-]
sweet
  московский – В+С → [-ФС-]
Moscow (adj.)
тетрадка – Д+К→ [-ТК-]
notebook
  петербургский – Г+С → [-КС]
(St.)Petersburg (adj.)
рыбка – Б+К → [-ПК-]
fish (dim.)
  в комнате – [фк]омнате
to be in a room
под столом – [патс]толом
to be under a table
  под книгой – [патк]нигой
to be under a book
в холодильнике – [фх-]
to be in a refrigerator
    без труда – [бист]руда
without difficulty

 

Exercise 40. Listen and repeat the following words.

RULE:
THE COMBINATION
“UNVOICED CONSONANT + VOICED CONSONANT”
BOTH ARE PRONOUNCED VOICED

(“Regressive Assimilation for Voicing”)

Example: ЭКЗАМЕН – (К+З) → [ГЗ] – [эгзамен] (exam)


  футбол – Т+Б → [-ДБ-]
soccer
сбор – C+Б → [ЗБ-]
collection
  просьба – С'+Б → [-З’Б-]
r equest
экзамен – К+З → [-ГЗ-]
  вокзал – К+З → [-ГЗ-]
(railroad) station
к жене – [гжы]не
to a wife
  с другом – C+Д → [ЗД-] [зд]ругом
with a friend
к дому – [гд]ому
toward (approach) a house
  сделать – C+Д → [ЗД-]
to do
   

 

Exercise 41. Listen and repeat the tongue-twister and the children’s ditties.


СКОРОГОВОРКА
(tongue-twister):

1. Батон, буханку, баранку пекарь испёк спозаранку. – Early in the morning the baker baked a baguette, a brick-bread, and a roll.

 

2. Говорила мышка мышке:
До чего [дачиво] люблю я книжки!
Не могу я их прочесть,
Но зато могу их съесть.
                                        /С. Маршак/

The mouse was telling the mouse:
– How I love books!
I cannot read them,
But I can eat them.
  Мы пошли по переулку,
С дядей Колей на прогулку,
Покупали пирожки,
Три фигурных шоколадки,
Два пирожных, очень сладких.
Заходили в магазин,
Там купили апельсин.
                                       /А. Кушнер/
Uncle Kolja and I went for a walk
Down the lane.
We bought pastries,
Three decorated chocolate bars,
Two very sweet pastries.
We stopped at the store,
We bought an orange there.
  Часовщик, прищурив глаз,
Чинит часики для нас.
                                       /С. Маршак/
Squinting his eye, the watchmaker
Repairs the watch for us.
  Мыла ножки многоножка
И задумалась немножко:
– Кто бы мне считать [щи-] помог,
Сколько я помыла ног?
                                       /Е. Серова/
As the centipede was washing her legs
She started to think:
– Who could help me count
How many legs I have washed already?

 

Exercise 42. Listen to the following poems. Mark the stresses. Then check yourself. Record your reading.


1. Александр Пушкин (1799 – 1837) – Пора, мой друг, пора …

* * *
Пора, мой друг, пора! покоя сердце просит — [серце]
Летят за днями дни, и каждый час уносит
Частичку бытия, а мы с тобой вдвоём
Предполагаем жить, и глядь — как раз умрём.
На свете счастья нет, но есть покой и воля. [щаст’йа]
Давно завидная мечтается мне доля —
Давно, усталый раб, замыслил я побег
В обитель дальную трудов и чистых нег.
1834

 

'Tis time, my dear,'tis time. The heart demands repose.
Day after day flits by, and with each hour there goes
A little bit of life; but meanwhile you and I
Together plan to dwell ... yet lo! 'tis then we die.
There is no bliss on earth: there's peace and freedom, though.
An enviable lot I long have yearned to know:
Long have I, weary slave, been contemplating flight
To a remote adobe of work and pure delight.

Translated by Vladimir Nabokov


2. Анна Ахматова (1889 – 1966) – Широк и жёлт вечерний свет...

* * *
Широк и жёлт вечерний свет,
Нежна апрельская прохлада.
Ты опоздал на много лет,
Но всё-таки тебе я рада.

Сюда ко мне поближе сядь,
Гляди весёлыми глазами:
Вот эта синяя тетрадь –
С моими детскими стихами. [децкими]

Прости, что я жила скорбя
И солнцу радовалась мало. [сонцу]
Прости, прости, что за тебя
Я слишком многих принимала.
                                                1915


Broad and yellow is the evening light,
Tender the April coolness.
You are so many years late,
Nevertheless I am glad you came.

 

Sit here closer to me
And look on joyfully:
Here is a blue composition book –
With the poems of my childhood.

Forgive me that I ignored the sun
And that I lived in sorrow.
Forgive, forgive, that I
Mistook too many others for you.

                        Translated by Judith Hemschemeyer

For fun and knowledge

Exercise 43. “About Everything in the world” is one of the most famous Russian poems for children written by Samuil Marshak. It is based on the Russian alphabet. Listen to the poem.


Про всё на свете

Самуил Маршак

А
Аист с нами прожил лето,
А зимой гостил он где-то.
The stork spent the summer with us,
And in winter somewhere else.
Б
Бегемот разинул рот:
Булки просит бегемот.
The hippopotamus opened his mouth wide:
He was asking for a roll.
В
Воробей просил ворону
Вызвать волка к телефону.
The sparrow asked the crow
To call the wolf to the phone.
Г
Гриб растёт среди дорожки, –
Голова на тонкой ножке.
A mushroom grows in the middle of the path,
Its cap is on the slim stem.
Д
Дятел жил в дупле пустом,
Дуб долбил, как долотом.
The woodpecker lived in the empty hollow,
He gouged the oak as if with a chisel.
Е
Ё
Ель на ёжика похожа:
Ёж в иголках, ёлка – тоже.
A spruce resembles a hedgehog:
A hedgehog has needles, and so does the spruce.
Ж
Жук упал и встать не может.
Ждёт он, кто ему поможет.
The beetle fell and could not get up.
He waits for someone to help him.
З
Звёзды видели мы днём
За рекою над Кремлём.
We saw the stars during the day
Beyond the river above the Kremlin.
И
Й
Иней лёг на ветви ели,
Иглы за ночь побелели.
Frost formed on the spruce branches,
The needles turned white overnight.
К
Кот ловил мышей и крыс.
Кролик лист капуустный грыз.
The cat chased mice and rats.
The hare chewed the cabbage leaf.
Л
Лодки по морю плывут,
Люди вёслами гребут.
The boats float on the sea,
The people row with oars.
М
Мёд медведь в лесу нашёл, –
Мало мёду, много пчёл.
A bear found honey in the forest.
Not much honey, lots of bees.
Н
Носорог бодает рогом.
Не шутите с носорогом!
The rhinoceros butts with his horn.
Do not play with the rhinoceros!
О
Ослик был сегодня зол:
Он узнал, что он осёл.
Today the small donkey was angry:
He found out he was a donkey (ass).
П
Панцирь носит черепаха,
Прячет голову от страха.
The turtle wears armor,
She hides her head from the fear.
Р
Роет землю серый крот, –
Разоряет огород.
The gray mole digs the soil,
He ravages the vegetable garden.
С
Спит спокойно старый слон –
Стоя спать умеет он.
The old elephant sleeps well –
He knows how to sleep standing up.
Т
Таракан живёт за печкой, –
То-то тёплое местечко!
The cockroach lives behind the oven,
What a warm little spot!
У
Ученик учил уроки –
У него в чернилах щёки.
The pupil did homework –
There’s ink on his cheeks.
Ф
Флот плывёт к родной земле.
Флаг на каждом корабле.
The fleet floats to the native land.
There is a flag on each ship.
Х
Ходит по лесу хорёк,
Хищный маленький зверёк.
The polecat walks around the forest,
The little beast is predatory.
Ц
Цапля важная, носатая,
Целый день стоит, как статуя.
The self-important,big-nosed heron
Stands all day like a statue.
Ч
Часовщик, прищурив глаз,
Чинит часики для нас.
Squinting his eye the watchmaker
Repairs the watch for us.
Ш
Школьник, школьник, ты силач:
Шар земной несёшь, как мяч!
Schoolboy, schoolboy you are so strong,
You carry the globe as if it were a ball!
Щ
Щёткой чищу я щенка,
Щекочу ему бока.
I am cleaning my puppy with a brush,
I am tickling his sides.
Э
Эта кнопка и шнурок –
Электрический звонок.
This button and this string,
Are an electric bell.
Ю
Юнга – будущий матрос –
Южных рыбок нам привёз.
The cabin boy – the future sailor –
Brought us fishes from the south.
Я
Ягод нет кислее клыквы,
Я на память знаю буквы!
There’s no berry more sour than the cranberry,
I’ve learned all the letters by heart!


The Russian Sound System: Pronunciation Guide


The Russian Department at Reed College © 2004 Anna Yatsenko

Last updated: 29 August 2016