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Thread: Pronunciation-rules of e and я

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    Pronunciation-rules of e and я

    Hi everyone
    I'm learning russian for maybe 1-2 month now and I have still some confusions in the russian pronunciation. Most of all, with е.

    So...I heard two different rules...one was that it is pronounced as "je" after a vowel and just like "e" (or like э) after consonants. From another source I heard it's "je" when stressed, and "e" or "i" when unstressed or at the end of the word (as the last letter).
    I didn't really trust the first rule. My ukrainian girlfriend recorded some words for me. берег, бездна, ветер, гена, гетры, дети, деньги,лето, коваленко, место, земеля, петя, тело, чешки.......
    So when I'm listening correct, most of the e's are pronounced like Je, even when they are positioned after a consonant. So it looks for me that it depends more on the stressing/accenting, right?
    So, are stressed e's pronounced like je, and the unstressed more like i? And when are they just e/э?

    And the second letter is я.
    I don't get it...sometimes it is pronounced like JA, sometimes like JE, sometimes like I, simetimes just a.

    The only rules I could find were, that it is pronounced like JA in the beginning of a word (Яблоко, Ясли, Ясень, Ярко) and je at the end of a word, but I'm confused, sometimes I hear just an a if it's at the end of a word. And then it seems to soften the consonants before right?

    Can somebody tell me which rules are actually true?

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    Властелин Medved's Avatar
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    Re: Pronunciation-rules of e and я

    Yeah, they both soften the preceding consonant, you're absolutely right.
    And they do sound like [ye in yeah] or [ya in yankee] at the beginning of words. Well, not EXACTLY that way, but it's for advanced dudes only.
    They sound that way also if there's the ь (soft sign) or the ъ (hard sign) in front of them. (Those "signs" influence THEIR preceding consonant, so don't bother your head at the time).

    In other cases they sound like the Y-sound would be cut off from the front of them. They sound still really soft, but without that Y-subsound at the beginning. That's because the preceding consonant is softened by them already and it's very convenient to say a soft vowel after a soft consonant in Russian.
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    Завсегдатай it-ogo's Avatar
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    Re: Pronunciation-rules of e and я

    Believe rules. (Though your second rule is about unstressed EЯ after consonants. It has nothing to do with the end of words.)

    The problem is that you need some training to adjust your ear to language. Before that what you seem to hear can be in fact far from what native speakers hear. Pronouncing je(ie) and ja(ia) after consonants is recognized by native speakers as a foreign accent.

    As for "E instead of Я", keep in mind that in real speech all vowels are pronounced completely clear only if they are stressed. Otherwise usually it is a kind of schwa which is hard to recognize... Still again native speakers usually are able to.
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    Re: Pronunciation-rules of e and я

    Quote Originally Posted by decsis
    So...I heard two different rules...one was that it is pronounced as "je" after a vowel and just like "e" (or like э) after consonants.
    So when I'm listening correct, most of the e's are pronounced like Je, even when they are positioned after a consonant.
    You may recognize them in this way because the preceding consonant is palatalized ( e.g. берег - bʲ[ɛ]rʲɪg , not b[jɛ]rʲɪg).

    From another source I heard it's "je" when stressed, and "e" or "i" when unstressed or at the end of the word (as the last letter).
    This one is wrong.

    So, are stressed e's pronounced like je, and the unstressed more like i? And when are they just e/э?
    je [jɛ]- if stressed, afer vowel, in the beginning of the word , after ь or ъ (i.e. not after consonant). [ɛ] - after consonant, if stressed, that becomes palatalized. [ɪ] - after consonant, unstressed (consonant is palatalized) [jɪ] - unstressed if not after consonant.
    Btw, speaking aboun pronunciation, [i] is not [ɪ] (IPA)
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    Почтенный гражданин Demonic_Duck's Avatar
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    Re: Pronunciation-rules of e and я

    The only time I can think of that "я" is pronounced (to my ears) like "je", is in the word язы́к. So it's an unstressed first syllable. I'm not sure if there are other examples of words like this.

    Unstressed "я" or "е" after a consonant is generally pronounced like "и", however sometimes it is pronounced like "а" or "э", but still softening the preceding consonant (example: -ся suffixes for reflexive verbs sound like "сьа"). I'm not sure exactly what the rules are for this.
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    Re: Pronunciation-rules of e and я

    Thank you all

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