Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 30

Thread: Confusion over pronounciation

  1. #1
    Новичок
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    8
    Rep Power
    6

    Confusion over pronounciation

    I've been studying the language for about a month, but I still have some questions about pronunciation even though I'm starting to develop my pronunciation skills.

    - How is "щ" pronounced and how is it different from "Ш"? I have heard it was "shsh" but then I heard it was "shch". Which one is correct and how does it actually sound?

    - I am very confused about the letter "e". Is this pronounced "ye" always? Or is there a point when it turns into "eh"? When I heard it was pronounced 'ye' I just started to pronounce it that way always. However, why don't English translations always translate the 'ye' sound and instead leave it as 'e'?

    - I do not know when or how "o" changes into the "a" sound. Can someone please explain how I can know when to pronounce 'o' as 'a'? I am not sure what is meant by "stress position" like I've heard explained.

    - the letters 'Г' and 'Х'. Is Г pronounced g? If so, why is Hamlet in Russian "Гamlet"? Does X pronounce as "kh" always? I have heard it was just "h" before.

    - I am confused by all those 'b' letters. Can someone explain all of them and what they do exactly? I know two of them are just stress marks or something, but I just want to get more information on this.

  2. #2
    Завсегдатай chaika's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Чапелхилловка, NC USA
    Posts
    1,987
    Rep Power
    16
    Do you have a textbook with a audio CD?
    1. Щ is something like SH in "sheet". English does not have a corresponding sound for Ш.

    2. Russian uses two letters to represent the same sound, the Russian letters E and Э. The choice of which to use depends on several things, one of which is whether the previous consonant is palatalized or not. (The other vowel letters are similarly paired.)
    English transcriptions are often based on certain transliteration systems, of which there are several in current use in the US.
    Тhe sounds represented by letters E and O and Я depend on whether they are stressed or not. Unstressed E is often pronounced /i/- the same as И, unstressed O as /a/ same as A, and unstressed Я as /i/, same as И, but sometimes sounds like E.

    3. You must memorize the position of stress in a word in order to know whether the letter O represents the /o/ sound or the /a/ sound. Stress position: compare English umBRELLa or inSURance versus southern dialect UMbrella, INsurance. I show stressed syllables as CAPs. In these English words there is no difference in meaning, but in Russian there are words spelled the same but with different stressed syllables and entirely different meanings. An example is the word ЗАМОК. Look it up in your dictionary and you will find two different words, depending on where the stress falls.

    4. Г is usually pronounced /g/. There are some major exceptions such as foreign words, the adjectival desinence spelled -ого or -его, before voiceless consonants or on word end, where it is /k/, and a couple other rare instances. I don't know how to pronounce Гамлет without consulting a dictionary.

    5. Ъ Ь Ы.
    Ы is the vowel that is similar to И. It is slightly like the vowel in English "bill", "kick".
    Ъ You will learn this in your second year or so. It has no sound but indicates how to pronounce the preceding letter.
    Ь This also usually tells you how to pronounce the previous letter. It is called the "soft sign" because it indicates whether a consonant is palatalized ("soft") or not. It is also present with no significant meaning for pronunciation in some words that have kept their historical spellings. For example, the verb ending second person singular -ишь, -ешь.

    Look in the learning thread here for recommended textbooks and buy yourself one. You definitely need one, because Russian is not a language you can learn by yourself, it is much harder than Spanish or German, for example.

  3. #3
    Новичок
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    8
    Rep Power
    6
    Hi chaika, I appreciate your concern but I don't need a real textbook even though I am using comprehensive book (it just doesn't have anything on pronunciation except through text); the reason is because I have experience with another Slavic language and there are many cognates and grammar similarities between it and Russian, so I'm not a stranger to complex grammar and pronunciations. Right now I'm focusing on pronunciation, and I'm going to start learning grammar soon.

    I can't say I completely understand the 'E' thing yet even though everything else has cleared up a bit for me.

  4. #4
    Завсегдатай Throbert McGee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Fairfax, VA (Фэйрфэкс, ш. Виргиния, США)
    Posts
    1,591
    Rep Power
    36
    Quote Originally Posted by Steven_Seagal View Post
    I've been studying the language for about a month, but I still have some questions about pronunciation even though I'm starting to develop my pronunciation skills.

    - How is "щ" pronounced and how is it different from "Ш"? I have heard it was "shsh" but then I heard it was "shch". Which one is correct and how does it actually sound?
    Okay, imagine that Marian the Librarian is cliff-diving into a lovely tropical lagoon -- she jumps off the cliff, and being a librarian, she's going "Sshhhhh!" the whole way down. Now imagine the "sh" being high-pitched at the start of her jump, but deepening to a much lower pitch as she falls towards the water. Basically, the щ is like the very high-pitched "sh" at the top of the cliff, and the ш is like the very deep "sh" when she's about to splash into the lagoon!

    I am very confused about the letter "e". Is this pronounced "ye" always? Or is there a point when it turns into "eh"? When I heard it was pronounced 'ye' I just started to pronounce it that way always. However, why don't English translations always translate the 'ye' sound and instead leave it as 'e'?
    You pronounce it "ye" when there's no consonant before it -- i.e., after another vowel sound, or at the beginning of a word. But when there's a consonant before it, the "y" sound sort of gets absorbed into the consonant (and changes the phonetic quality of the consonant), and is no longer a distinct, separate sound. If you're familiar with how Spanish speakers pronounce the word cañon, and understand how the ñ is different from the n-y in the English word "canyon," then this may help you understand what I mean when I say that the "y" sound of the Russian е is "absorbed into the consonant."

    I do not know when or how "o" changes into the "a" sound. Can someone please explain how I can know when to pronounce 'o' as 'a'? I am not sure what is meant by "stress position" like I've heard explained.
    Pronounce о like о when it's in a stressed syllable, as in English "FO-cus". Pronounce о like а when it's in an unstressed syllable RIGHT BEFORE the stressed syllable. Pronounce о like ə (also called the "schwa sound", or "uh") if it's in an unstressed syllable in any other position other than right before the stressed syllable. As an example, the word for "milk": молоко. There are three о's, but the stress is on the final one, so the word is pronounced like мəлако (muh-lah-KOH).

    - the letters 'Г' and 'Х'. Is Г pronounced g? If so, why is Hamlet in Russian "Гamlet"? Does X pronounce as "kh" always? I have heard it was just "h" before.
    I think chaika has already given a good explanation, but as for the pronunciation of х, I would advise that you try to do your best impression of Darth Vader's respirator: Ххххххх! Люк, ай эм йор фадр! Ххххххххххх! A lot of English-speaking beginners in Russian make the mistake of trying to do a rather "wet"-sounding х with too much "k" in it, like they're trying to cough up phlegm. But you gotta keep it dry, like Vader breathing.

    - I am confused by all those 'b' letters. Can someone explain all of them and what they do exactly? I know two of them are just stress marks or something, but I just want to get more information on this.
    ы is a vowel -- I would describe it as sounding kinda-sorta like that "schwa sound" ə, followed by the vowel -y as in "happy". So if you try saying "əy", you'll be getting it approximately right. The letters ь and ъ are totally silent, but they affect the pronunciation of consonants that come immediately before them. The ъ is hardly ever used and you can pretty much forget about it until later in your study of Russian. The ь is more important, and (going back to that example of Spanish cañon), it's kinda-sorta like the Spanish ~, except that it's written AFTER the consonant instead of OVER it. Basically, when you see the ь, it means that the consonant right before it has a consonantal "y" sound blended into it, like the ñ in Spanish piñata.

    Hope this was helpful!

    P.S. Я очень рекомендую офигенный фильм The Music Man всем русским!
    Говорит Бегемот: "Dear citizens of MR -- please correct my Russian mistakes!"

  5. #5
    Новичок
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    8
    Rep Power
    6
    Ok, thanks, that has cleared up things quite a bit.

  6. #6
    Завсегдатай chaika's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Чапелхилловка, NC USA
    Posts
    1,987
    Rep Power
    16
    >I have experience with another Slavic language
    What's the other one? I am familiar with most of them (grad school in Slavic linguistics), and it might help. I would guess one from the South, where they lack palatalization (Bulg, SC, Macedonian).

  7. #7
    Новичок
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    8
    Rep Power
    6
    Quote Originally Posted by chaika View Post
    >I have experience with another Slavic language
    What's the other one? I am familiar with most of them (grad school in Slavic linguistics), and it might help. I would guess one from the South, where they lack palatalization (Bulg, SC, Macedonian).
    SC. Do you have any helpful advice or anything?

  8. #8
    Moderator Lampada's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    СССР -> США
    Posts
    17,632
    Rep Power
    31
    Quote Originally Posted by Steven_Seagal View Post
    SC. Do you have any helpful advice or anything?
    Chaika has helped many hundreds of students of Russian. I can bet he has some helpful advice or something.

  9. #9
    Новичок
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    8
    Rep Power
    6
    Thanks, everyone. I really do appreciate all of this help.

  10. #10
    Moderator Lampada's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    СССР -> США
    Posts
    17,632
    Rep Power
    31
    Quote Originally Posted by Steven_Seagal View Post
    Thanks, everyone. I really do appreciate all of this help.
    You are welcome.
    "...Важно, чтобы форум оставался местом, объединяющим людей, для которых интересны русский язык и культура. ..." - MasterАdmin (из переписки)



  11. #11
    Почтенный гражданин bitpicker's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    654
    Rep Power
    11
    Quote Originally Posted by Steven_Seagal View Post
    - the letters 'Г' and 'Х'. Is Г pronounced g? If so, why is Hamlet in Russian "Гamlet"? Does X pronounce as "kh" always? I have heard it was just "h" before.
    The problem here is that Russian does not have the phoneme we represent with "H" in "Hamlet" and elsewhere. It is frequently represented as г and even pronounced like that, I've heard Russians pronounce the name of the city Hamburg like Gamburg for example. Incidentally this is so far off that it will not be recognizable immediately to a German, he will think they are talking about some obscure place in the country, not one of the largest cities in Germany.

    In some other words the H sound is rendered as х, for example хобби. The less rasping the pronunciation of х (which we Germans usually render much too harsh), the closer you get to the actual sound of H in either German or English.
    Спасибо за исправления!

    Вам нравится этот форум, и вы изучаете немецкий язык? Вот похожий форум о немецком языке.

  12. #12
    Завсегдатай chaika's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Чапелхилловка, NC USA
    Posts
    1,987
    Rep Power
    16
    у прикупљању и достављању
    This shows the two consonants that correspond to what a Russian would write as ль and нь.
    The letter E in Russian is always preceded by either a palatalized consonant, the semivowel /j/, or цчшщ which do not have palatalized/unpalatalized pairs.

    Compare Serbian покренут jе меморијални. The /j/ before /e/ is not spelled in Russian, as it is in Serbian, so you have the spelling есть, but with the /j/ pronounced-- /jest'/. Note the /j/ can also occur before other vowels, the /ju/ in жртвују, which is spelled in Russian with a ю, жертвую.

  13. #13
    Старший оракул
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    936
    Rep Power
    13
    Quote Originally Posted by bitpicker View Post
    The problem here is that Russian does not have the phoneme we represent with "H" in "Hamlet" and elsewhere. It is frequently represented as г and even pronounced like that, I've heard Russians pronounce the name of the city Hamburg like Gamburg for example.
    "H" was traditionally transliterated as "Г".

    There is a tendency toward a phonetical transliteration now. For example, Irish physicist William Hamilton is known as Гамильтон in Russia. On the other hand, the name of British driver Lewis Hamilton is transliterated and pronounced as Хэмилтон. Nevertheless, if you see the letter "г" in a name you should pronounce "г". There is no exceptions, afaik.


    BTW. Ломоносов, Ода: "...Что может собственных Платонов И быстрых разумом Невтонов Российская земля рождать."
    Налево пойдёшь - коня потеряешь, направо пойдёшь - сам голову сложишь.
    Прямой путь не предлагать!

  14. #14
    Завсегдатай Throbert McGee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Fairfax, VA (Фэйрфэкс, ш. Виргиния, США)
    Posts
    1,591
    Rep Power
    36
    Quote Originally Posted by Полуношник View Post
    "H" was traditionally transliterated as "Г".

    There is a tendency toward a phonetical transliteration now. For example, Irish physicist William Hamilton is known as Гамильтон in Russia. On the other hand, the name of British driver Lewis Hamilton is transliterated and pronounced as Хэмилтон.
    In some of the "official" Russian translations of the Harry Potter books, the names were transliterated as follows:

    Hagrid --> Хагрид
    Hogwarts --> Хогвартс

    Harry --> Гарри
    Hermione --> Гермиона

    The Cyrillic spellings for "Hagrid" and "Hogwarts" follow the modern tendency to use Х when representing the English "h" sound. So the question is, why didn't they follow the modern rule for "Harry" and "Hermione"? There are two reasons:

    (1) Historic consistency: Гарри was the Russian spelling used for U.S. President Harry Truman, and the stage magician Harry Houdini was known as Гарри Гудини. Similarly, the feminine name Гермиона appears in Russian translations of Homer's Odyssey -- she's a Greek princess, and the daughter of King Menelaus and Queen Helen (English translations call her, of course, Hermione).

    (2) To prevent an accidental dirty pun that would make Russian schoolchildren laugh uncontrollably. Хермиона, in particular, would "sound very unfortunate" to a Russian schoolteacher who wishes to maintain good order and discipline in the classroom -- in the same sort of way that the name of Lake Titicaca in Peru "sounds very unfortunate" in a classroom of English-speaking children.

    Nevertheless, if you see the letter "г" in a name you should pronounce "г". There is no exceptions, afaik.
    Actually, there are two noteworthy exceptions, both relating to the same "person": the specific forms Бог (God, when in the nominative singular) and Господи (O Lord!, in the archaic "vocative") -- there is a tendency to pronounce them more like Бох and Хосподи.

    P.S. I put "person" в кабачках (in quote marks) only because this pronunciation rule applies whether you are a devout believer or a total atheist who doesn't think there is any such person as "God" or "the Lord". In either case, if you want a mild way to express minor surprise, shock, anger, etc., that's more or less equivalent to "Ohmigod!" or "Oh, dear!" in English, you would write "Господи!", but the pronunciation is closer to "Хосподи!".
    Говорит Бегемот: "Dear citizens of MR -- please correct my Russian mistakes!"

  15. #15
    Новичок
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    8
    Rep Power
    6
    Quote Originally Posted by Throbert McGee View Post
    (2) To prevent an accidental dirty pun that would make Russian schoolchildren laugh uncontrollably. Хермиона, in particular, would "sound very unfortunate" to a Russian schoolteacher who wishes to maintain good order and discipline in the classroom -- in the same sort of way that the name of Lake Titicaca in Peru "sounds very unfortunate" in a classroom of English-speaking children.
    That sounds hilarious. Out of curiosity, what would Хермиона suggest exactly?

    Also, about the teachers "keeping order", just how bad is Russia's education system in controlling students? I ask because I saw a youtube video of school violence there. Even teachers were being like punched in the face, haha.

  16. #16
    Завсегдатай chaika's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Чапелхилловка, NC USA
    Posts
    1,987
    Rep Power
    16
    Steven_Seagal, хер and derivatives relate to male genitalia.

  17. #17
    Завсегдатай Throbert McGee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Fairfax, VA (Фэйрфэкс, ш. Виргиния, США)
    Posts
    1,591
    Rep Power
    36
    I would say -- as a native speaker of English, but not of Russian -- that хер is roughly equivalent to words like "wang" or "dong" -- it's not as strongly obscene as "c*ck", but at the same time, it's definitely not a cute euphemism that a Russian mother would use when telling her 5-year-old son to "wash yourself down there" while in the bathtub.

    So it's "moderately vulgar," and transliterating the name of Miss Hermione Granger as Хермиона would sound to Russians sort of like "Dicktoria" (as a joke version of "Victoria"). And spelling Mr. Harry Potter's name as Харри could also be phonetically suggestive of a "penis joke" in Russian, although perhaps not quite as hilarious!!! as with Hermione's name.

    (By the way, when I was a very little boy, my mom told me to "wash your dork", but other English-speaking moms might prefer to say "wash your peter" or "wash your wiener" or "wash your pee-pee", etc. And the polite Russian word, by the way, is член, which literally means "member.")
    Говорит Бегемот: "Dear citizens of MR -- please correct my Russian mistakes!"

  18. #18
    Властелин
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    1,340
    Rep Power
    10
    Хер is an old name of the letter x. It was used as an euphimism of the word хуй. Now it is nearly as rude as хуй. Even the word похерить started being regarded by uneducated people as obscen.

  19. #19
    Завсегдатай
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Ukraine
    Posts
    5,076
    Rep Power
    22
    Quote Originally Posted by Throbert McGee View Post
    -- in the same sort of way that the name of Lake Titicaca in Peru "sounds very unfortunate" in a classroom of English-speaking children.
    Great explanation, Throbert McGee!
    BTW, poor Titicaca (Титикака) can seem hilarious to young Russians as well. "Кака" (which is used by mothers and young children) means a turd or something unpleasant, and "какать" is colloquial for "to defecate".
    P.S. I put "person" в кабачках (in quote marks)
    в кавычках
    кавычка (sing), кавычки (pl) - quote mark(s)
    кабачок (sing), кабачки (pl) - a kind of zucchini

  20. #20
    Завсегдатай chaika's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Чапелхилловка, NC USA
    Posts
    1,987
    Rep Power
    16
    My Russian Slang & Colloquial Expressions marks хер as rude, same as it does хуй, then lists about 30 expressions where it is interchangeable with the latter. Good dictionary, BTW, full of words I'd never use!

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Gender Confusion
    By Dreams in forum Grammar and Vocabulary
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: April 2nd, 2010, 05:57 AM
  2. они сделают... confusion...
    By Hanna in forum Grammar and Vocabulary
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: September 17th, 2009, 06:39 AM
  3. Little word, big confusion
    By Trzeci_Wymiar in forum Grammar and Vocabulary
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: June 11th, 2008, 09:47 PM
  4. Confusion acc/gen
    By jz12 in forum Grammar and Vocabulary
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: June 20th, 2006, 05:32 PM
  5. Confusion
    By TATY in forum General Discussion
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: August 17th, 2005, 02:11 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  


Russian Lessons                           

Russian Tests and Quizzes            

Russian Vocabulary