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Thread: Hard and soft consonants (e.g. Л) - Help needed

  1. #1
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    Hard and soft consonants (e.g. Л) - Help needed

    Hello
    I'm learning russian since 6 month. Now, my reading skills are much better than in the beginning, but I'm still having big problems pronouncing hard and soft consonants correctly.

    Especially I'm having problems with the letter Л. My girlfriend says, my soft l sounds like the hard and the hard isn't very russian too, it sounds like a german L. Sadly she can't give me a tip to improve it...or in other words..she tried it, but it didn't work. And she asked me to asked somewhere else, maybe other peoples can explain it better.

    So, anybody here who can describe me, how to produce soft consonants in general and especially Л?
    If pictures or videos are available for this topic, that would be from big help!

    Thank you so much

  2. #2
    Почтенный гражданин Demonic_Duck's Avatar
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    Л is one of the easiest sounds to pronounce hard/soft in Russian!

    All you need to do to soften it is raise the middle of the tongue up to the roof of the mouth. Similarly, when saying it hard, keep the middle of your tongue low in your mouth.

    Hard/soft Л
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    Властелин Medved's Avatar
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    Demonic_Duck
    Man your hard Л sounds like O and soft Л -- like И. But you're absolutely right about lowering and rising of the tongue to make them hard or soft. And a thing to remember about Л is that its main sound is being made when the tip of the tongue is bouncing off the roof of the mouth or just getting in touch against it. In other words pronounce it in somewhat plosive way to make it sounding perfect.

    Explanations here:
    Getting started with russian phonetics - Russian Language Forums

    Here's the link:
    http://webfile.ru/5027843

    It's my own post there so feel free to ask here if something is not quite understandeable. And I'm going to attach some pictures maybe here and there in a short while so it'll get easier to understand the positions.
    Another month ends. All targets met. All systems working. All customers satisfied. All staff eagerly enthusiastic. All pigs fed and ready to fly.

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    Почтенный гражданин Demonic_Duck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eugene-p View Post
    Demonic_Duck
    Man your hard Л sounds like O and soft Л -- like И.
    I blame that on exaggerating the pronunciation and my microphone being crappy

    (But of course my Russian pronunciation is far from perfect anyway...)
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    Властелин Medved's Avatar
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    Demonic_duck
    Nonono, I mean you said them in a static position of the tongue that's why they sounded like that. Otherwise they would have sounded great I guess.
    Another month ends. All targets met. All systems working. All customers satisfied. All staff eagerly enthusiastic. All pigs fed and ready to fly.

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    Почтенный гражданин Demonic_Duck's Avatar
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    So is this better?

    лъ, ль
    Демоническая Утка
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  7. #7
    Властелин Medved's Avatar
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    Well, except Л sounds like ЛА, they are just perfect. Anyway in 99.99999 percents there would be another sound running after the Л so don't bother, they are excellent.
    Another month ends. All targets met. All systems working. All customers satisfied. All staff eagerly enthusiastic. All pigs fed and ready to fly.

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    Hey,
    Thanks for your answers and thanks Eugene-p for that lesson.

    It's really difficult for me to make them sound different, even though I can clearly hear the difference. And then, it also seems to depend a lot on which letters are before and after this consonants.

    I have just made some recordings, maybe you can see my difficulties. =(

    ль
    л - ль
    лампа - лес

    ть
    думает - думать
    достопримечательность

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    Почтенный гражданин Demonic_Duck's Avatar
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    Your л and ль sounds in the first 2 files seem OK to me although could be more pronounced (middle of tongue right down for л, right up to the roof of your mouth for ль).

    Your т and ть in думает/думать sound pretty much exactly the same to me.
    my attempt...

    As for «достопримечательность», that word is so damn difficult! It sounds to me like you're pronouncing both «т»s and the «л» hard when they should be soft, although the rest of the word sounds OK to me.
    It took me like 5 attempts to record this (lol)...
    ...and this is how the experts say it (audio clip is under the "pronunciation" heading)

    Another tip is, when you pronounce a consonant soft, try to say the English letter "y" as in "yacht", at the same time as you say the consonant. Don't say it directly after, say it at the same time. If the soft consonant is in word final position (e.g. infinitives of verbs such as «думать»), you may hear a very small, voiceless "y" sound after the consonant, but the important thing is, you are also pronouncing this sound whilst saying the consonant.
    Демоническая Утка
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    Властелин Medved's Avatar
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    decsis
    Your Л sounds absolutely english-like. ЛЬ is okay. (Лампа and лес) clearly confirm that.

    Т (ДумаеТ) sounds perfect, ТЬ in думать sounds like an English T. Bend the tongue more or just spread sides of the front part of the tongue from the ЛЬ position, widen them to stop the airflow completely pump up the air into your mouth and you will get the Т when abruptly release the pressure.

    Достопримечательность:
    СТ transition not sharp enough, the T should bounce off the top of the mouth after a short complete deadstop, not just make a noising (English TH-like) sound.
    И sounds English like e.g. like EE in sleeve.
    ЧА both sound English-like, and if you saw that lesson you should have read that Ч is always soft and no hard vowels like A after Ч. Only Я. Read it as Я.
    ЛЬ almost not existing. Make sure you are pronouncing it. Exaggerate it a bit. Make that click to force the ЛЬ sound.

    Demonic_duck
    Думает has wrong stresses there, just the А is too clear as though it would have been stressed too.
    Достопримечательность - the T is not sharp enough. Make sure it quickly stopped the airflow. And Ч is a bit English-like.
    And yes, you're almost right about this Y in yacht, except It should be more like Russian И than English Y. And they use different tongue positions.
    I think the И sound is a key or is a glue to understand and learn how to pronounce Russian soft sounds correct.
    Another month ends. All targets met. All systems working. All customers satisfied. All staff eagerly enthusiastic. All pigs fed and ready to fly.

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    Thank you so much guys. I will hardly work on it. And demonic_duke, I'm really impressed of your pronunciation as a native english speaker.

    Unfortunately, I totally ignored the hard-soft consonants or the pronunciation in general when I started learning russian in last summer. I will try to follow your advices.
    Anyway, before I've got your answer, I've found a website I haven't seen so far:

    Learn Russian | Russian Alphabet | Russian Soft-sign pronunciation

    There is a special sub-section for many consonants a bit down there with many sound examples and even slow versions. I couldn't listen to the examples so far as I'm in my office and I'm not able to try it out cause It would ...look/sound pretty weird for my mates haha

    BUT. They say, I should "hold the tip of your tongue at the join between your front bottom teeth and your bottom gum. Then use the middle of your tongue to say the syllable that contains the soft-sign."

    Hmm till now, I always heard I should put the middle of the tongue up to that middle part of the gum, but I always had the tip at the top too.
    Is it true that the tip should be at the bottom???
    My girlfriend said it shouldn't make a difference. Does it makes a difference for you guys, if you put the tip at the top or bottom?

    and about that y which is combined with the consontant...yeah that's what I have read in my books too. Even though some said, it's not a russian и but more a й!?

  12. #12
    Властелин Medved's Avatar
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    decsis
    For some sounds the position of the tip doesn't matter, while for some it does. At least I can't imagine myself saying РЬ with the tip down. And for ЛЬ it's slightly inconvenient too which will affect your fluency in future. For бь, вь, гь, дь, зь, сь, мь, нь well, just other soft consonants the tip is down, really.
    My ль is with the tip touching the alveolar ridge and the middle bent upwards to the roof right away behind the ridge.
    Another month ends. All targets met. All systems working. All customers satisfied. All staff eagerly enthusiastic. All pigs fed and ready to fly.

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    yeah true, it's quite impossible to say р (or german r) with the tip of the tongue at the bottom.

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    Почтенный гражданин Demonic_Duck's Avatar
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    Lol, I've just been trying to do that and I can't stop laughing at the results

    рь seems very difficult to pronounce.

    дверь/царь
    Is this any good?
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  15. #15
    Властелин Medved's Avatar
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    both рь's are not enough voiced and А in царь sounds English-like. But РЬ's are basically good.
    Another month ends. All targets met. All systems working. All customers satisfied. All staff eagerly enthusiastic. All pigs fed and ready to fly.

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    Ok another try with ль:

    кремель - кремел

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    Властелин Medved's Avatar
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    Much better! Almost perfect. A bit more voice in РЬ's and a bit more raised tongue in ЛЬ and it'll sound great.
    Just practice to get used to the sensation and you'll be there.
    Another month ends. All targets met. All systems working. All customers satisfied. All staff eagerly enthusiastic. All pigs fed and ready to fly.

  18. #18
    Завсегдатай Throbert McGee's Avatar
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    If you REALLY want to test your skill with hard/soft л and р, there's always this скороговорка:

    Пароль, орёл
    .

    Note that you've got a hard ръ, then soft ль, then soft рь, then hard лъ -- try saying it five times, fast! (And by the way, it literally translates to "Password, eagle.")

    Also, I wanted to repost this image that I found on Wikipedia:



    As an exercise for learning how to distinguish the hard and soft Л sounds in Russian, start with the кончик язычка (tip of the tongue, 16/17 in the diagram) against the bottom edge of your upper teeth (position 3). With your tongue there, make an "L" sound. There, that's the "hard Л"! Now continue to make that sound as you gradually slide the front of your tongue (16) from (3) to (4), through (5) and (6), all the way to (7). Do you hear how the sound changes? By the time you get to (7) -- at which point, you might be using the (15) area of the tongue rather than (16) -- you'll be pronouncing a "soft Л"!
    Говорит Бегемот: "Dear citizens of MR -- please correct my Russian mistakes!"

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    Почтенный гражданин Demonic_Duck's Avatar
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    Throbert, that's wrong, you don't slide the front of your tongue back, you move the middle of your tongue upwards.
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    Властелин Medved's Avatar
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    Demonic_Duck
    Throbert McGee


    Guys, you both wrong
    Hard Л position (according to the diagram):
    The very tip (17) is straight at the place where the upper front teeth meet the gums. (Roots of the teeth). And 16 (right near the tip) is touching the alveolar ridge at the prealveolar region (4).
    Soft L position:
    The very tip is touching the 5 and the 16 is touching the 6.

    Oh, yeah, and guys, to sound purely russian you gotta keep your tongue middle higher than its sides. That's tricky for english speakers, but you may chuckle that it's tricky for us to keep the tongue flat when speaking English .
    Another month ends. All targets met. All systems working. All customers satisfied. All staff eagerly enthusiastic. All pigs fed and ready to fly.

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