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Thread: Soft "Р" vs hard "Р"

  1. #1
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    Soft "Р" vs hard "Р"

    I cannot differentiate between soft and hard "Р". I know hard is trilled and soft is palatalized but how do I tell the difference when I read text? And with soft "Р", do I roll it once or give it a minor trill?

    Thank you!

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    Завсегдатай Throbert McGee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LurkingDarkness View Post
    I cannot differentiate between soft and hard "Р". I know hard is trilled and soft is palatalized but how do I tell the difference when I read text? And with soft "Р", do I roll it once or give it a minor trill?

    Thank you!
    Telling the difference in text is fairly easy: If the р is followed by е, ё, и, ю, я, ь, then it's soft; if it's followed by а, о, у, ы, or is the last letter in a word, then it's hard. If it's followed by another consonant, then it will tend to take its hardness or softness from that consonant. So the nominative singular of the word for "eagle" is орёл, and the р is soft; in the gen. sing. орла, the л is hard because it comes before the hard vowel а, and the р is also hard.

    And soft р should not be trilled/rolled at all.

    The classic скороговорка ("tongue-twister") for practicing the hard and soft versions of р is:

    Ехал Грека через реку;
    Видит Грека в реке рак.
    Сунул Грека в реке руку;
    Рак за руку Греку "цап"!

    Greka was riding across the river;
    Greka sees a crayfish in the river.
    Greka stuck his hand into the river;
    The crayfish pinched Greka's hand!

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    So for Грека, is the р soft or hard?

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    Quote Originally Posted by LurkingDarkness View Post
    So for Грека, is the р soft or hard?
    soft, because it's followed by е

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    Thank you very much! The riddle is helping a lot! One more thing, how do you do soft and hard "Л"?

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    Старший оракул CoffeeCup's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Throbert McGee View Post
    Ехал Грека через реку;
    Видит Грека в реке рак.
    Сунул Грека руку в реку ;
    Рак за руку Греку "цап"!
    So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

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    then it will tend to take its hardness or softness from that consonant.
    In Moscow it is always hard before a consonant, if there is no soft sign.

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    with soft "Р", do I roll it once or give it a minor trill?
    I don't know what rolled r means. Soft r is a flap like Spanish r in "caro", so the front part (not the tip!) of the toungue touches alveolars once. It is rarelly trilled.

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    That's a relief to know! My trill isn't very good =P.

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    Завсегдатай chaika's Avatar
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    In Spanish your choice of short or long trilled R is meaningful, for example: pero and perro have different meanings (but and dog). But not in Russian. So you can say Пррривет! and no-one will fault you for it!

    LurkingDarkness- if you're having trouble with palatalization, try to find a native speaker who can help. It is extremely difficult to explain the differences in print!

    Рак за руку Грекиап"!

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    Moderator Lampada's Avatar
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    My advice would be to listen to Детские песенки, басни, сказки (с МР3)
    There are all kinds of "р" here.

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    Завсегдатай it-ogo's Avatar
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    И всё-таки
    Рак за руку Греку "цап"!
    "Цапнуть руку Греки" или "цапнуть Греку за руку"
    "Россия для русских" - это неправильно. Остальные-то чем лучше?

  13. #13
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    The most difficult Russian toungue-twister: Король-орёл (eagle-king).

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    Старший оракул Seraph's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LurkingDarkness View Post
    Thank you very much! The riddle is helping a lot! One more thing, how do you do soft and hard "Л"?
    In English: Luke is a hard L. Lieu (as in 'in lieu of') is a soft L. (Lieu is not 'loo')

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    Завсегдатай Throbert McGee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seraph View Post
    In English: Luke is a hard L. Lieu (as in 'in lieu of') is a soft L. (Lieu is not 'loo')
    Actually, in US English, "lieu" is quite often pronounced with a hard L, making it a homophone with "loo".

    Similarly with "duke" (герцог), "tulip" (тюльпан), "dew" (роса), and "new"/"news" (новый/новости) -- in US English (or some dialects of US English), the consonants before the "u" are more often pronounced hard (ду, ту, ну) but in UK English, they may be pronounced soft (дю, тю, ню).

    I would also add that in US English, although the hard pronunciation is frequently heard, using the soft consonants for these words also sounds "normal", and not "affected". (Using British or French-style pronunciation can sometimes sound affected or grandiose in US English, but not with the words I listed above.)

    I hope this doesn't make things more confusing for LurkingDarkness -- my point was that if you're aware that in some dialects of English, the words "do" (делать) and "dew" (роса) are pronounced quite differently (with a "hard Д" in the first word and a "soft Д" in the second one) then the same basic difference applies to "hard Л" and "soft Л".

  16. #16
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    I hope this doesn't make things more confusing for LurkingDarkness -- my point was that if you're aware that in some dialects of English, the words "do" (делать) and "dew" (роса) are pronounced quite differently (with a "hard Д" in the first word and a "soft Д" in the second one) then the same basic difference applies to "hard Л" and "soft Л".
    Anyway, all of them are wrong sounds in Russian. "d" in "dew" can be pronounced like English j, can't it? This sound is neither hard nor soft and does not exist in Russian. Alveolar apical d is not soft and hard enough and does not exist in Russian either. The words listed above differ by presence or lack of the consonant "j" (it is usually spelt in English as "y"), which may cause some changings in consonants but they are not phonemic. In Russian it is the consonant itself which undergoes palatalisation. So, my advice: do not try to approximate Russian sounds with English ones, and especially do not try to understand the difference between soft and hard consonants from English. Better try to pronounce hard consonants correctly first, then it will be easier at least to hear the difference, which is great, in fact.

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    Hard l is pronounced with the tip of the toungue on the upper teeth, while soft l is pronounced with front part of the toungue on the alveolars, the tip does not touch the teeth. Soft l is similar to Frenc l, while hard is similar to English "l" in "well".

  18. #18
    Старший оракул Seraph's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Throbert McGee View Post
    Actually, in US English, "lieu" is quite often pronounced with a hard L, making it a homophone with "loo". &c.
    American English is shifting away from the soft consonants, as in lieu and dew. I should have mentioned that. Throbert has complete agreement from me about these points. People that use the hard pronunciation variants sometimes have a hard time noticing the difference between the hard and soft. They can't tell what softness is.

    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
    Anyway, all of them are wrong sounds in Russian. "d" in "dew" can be pronounced like English j, can't it? This sound is neither hard nor soft and does not exist in Russian. ...
    You can hear many variants, including the Russian type of soft d.

    Some other consonants in English sometimes in soft mode: dueling mewling pew rue imbue (some of these also heard in hard mode) whew! No Russian soft w, I know.

  19. #19
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    People that use the hard pronunciation variants sometimes have a hard time noticing the difference between the hard and soft. They can't tell what softness is.
    All the Anglophones have extremely hard time with phonemic palatalisation in any other language.

    You can hear many variants, including the Russian type of soft d.
    That doesn't help. Russians, for example, can't say whether б in объём is hard or soft.

  20. #20
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    I have already created a thread about hard and soft R in the Irish language in Other Languages. I don't hear the difference in a song, although I can hear the difference in many other cases.

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