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Thread: Softness among other questions!

  1. #1
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    Softness among other questions!

    Ok guys, I'm really new to Russian and I'm currently reading "The New Penguin Russian Course" by Nicholas J. Brown, it's an excellent book, but I'm having some sleight issues. First of all, I can't hear the words being pronounced, so I'm left on my own unless I can find something on the internet. My first question has to do with softness, right now I'm trying to learn Russian verbs and conjugations, but the pronunciation is messing me up. The first example is Курить - To Smoke.

    How is this pronounced? I know it sounds like koorreet, but do I pronounce the simultaneous "ye" sound at the end of the word to denote the softness? As in, "Koorreetye?"

    My second question is about the various pronouns, "I", "You", "We", etc. You (formal) is "Вы", but I have heard many pronunciations of this. The book tells me the 'ы' makes the sound "i" as in "bit" but with my tongue a little further back, so does it sound like "vih?"

    My third and last question has to do with the difference between 'ш' and 'щ', the book says it troubles a lot of foreigners, but I don't really understand what the difference is. From what I'm reading, one sounds like "sh" and the other sounds like "shsh" respectively. I've read that 'щ' as well as a few others are ALWAYS soft, so does this mean it produces a sound like "shhye" (double H intentional)?

    Thanks in advance, I really hope to progress with my Russian, it's such an interesting language!

  2. #2
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    Re: Softness among other questions!

    Quote Originally Posted by Silence
    How is this pronounced? I know it sounds like koorreet, but do I pronounce the simultaneous "ye" sound at the end of the word to denote the softness? As in, "Koorreetye?"
    No. 't' is one sound here. Regular, not soft 't' is Voiceless dental plosive in Russian. 't' in English is alveolar plosive, with the tongue placed upward, on the alveolar ridge. With the soft 't', the part of the tongue after the tip also touches hard palate, making palatalized 't'.

    My second question is about the various pronouns, "I", "You", "We", etc. You (formal) is "Вы", but I have heard many pronunciations of this. The book tells me the 'ы' makes the sound "i" as in "bit" but with my tongue a little further back, so does it sound like "vih?"
    What if I pronounce 'h' in 'vih' like 'ch' in 'loch' ? It depends whether 'ы' is stressed or not -stressed is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Close_cent ... nded_vowel (while 'i' in bit is Near-close near-front unrounded vowel), unstressed (afaik) may be "Close-mid central unrounded vowel"

    My third and last question has to do with the difference between 'ш' and 'щ', the book says it troubles a lot of foreigners, but I don't really understand what the difference is. From what I'm reading, one sounds like "sh" and the other sounds like "shsh" respectively. I've read that 'щ' as well as a few others are ALWAYS soft, so does this mean it produces a sound like "shhye" (double H intentional)?
    first, 'ш' is not pronounced as 'sh' - sh is postalveolar (Voiceless postalveolar fricative), and 'ш' is Voiceless retroflex fricative. Wiki article says that retroflex means that '...which prototypically means it is articulated with the tip of the tongue curled up' but it is not articulated this way, and pronounced with the middle part of the tongue agains the palate (something meaningful - http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Обсуждение:Русская_фонетика#.D0.A8.D0.B8.D0.BF.D 1.8F.D1.89.D0.B8.D0.B5 )
    Russian is tough, let’s go shopping!

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    Завсегдатай chaika's Avatar
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    Re: Softness among other questions!

    You need audio. The differences can't be meaningfully described in words, as you can see from the above post. On this website Lampada has posted many songs with their lyrics, so look for them and follow along.

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    Re: Softness among other questions!

    Silence,

    Your 1st question is easy)

    Compare 'он курит' (he smokes) and 'я люблю курить' (i like smoking). I underlined the stressed syllables for you.

    In the 1st phrase the last consonant is hard, it's like /on koorit/. In the 2nd phrase just make it soft. Traditionally softness is marked by ' sign. So it sounds like /ya lyublyu koorit'/. So in the 1st phrase the sound 't' is similar to your 'top', and in the 2nd one it's close to your 'tip'. Hard and soft, just like that.

    Concerning 'ы', I'm afraid there's no equivalent in English, I can't immediately think of an example. It's like 'i', but very opened. It would be handy to find this particular sound on the Internet and listen it.

    The same about 'щ'. It's something between 'she' and 'cheese'. If you have Italian friends ask them how they pronounce 'prosciutto' in Italian, or find Italian phonetics audio. This 'sc' in Italian is very close to Russian 'щ'.

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    Re: Softness among other questions!

    Thank you all for the quick replies, I've got a somewhat better understanding of a few things. I'm going to look around the internet for some good audio software that I can use to help learn the pronunciation a little better.

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    Старший оракул Seraph's Avatar
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    Re: Softness among other questions!

    Check the words with audio samples on the MasterRussian site. This can help with lots of common words. Also the cartoons thread provides lots links to good Russian cartoons that include good pronunciations of common words/phrases.

    Русские мультики на ютюбе

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    Почтенный гражданин Misha Tal's Avatar
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    Re: Softness among other questions!

    Here's my interpretation of the function of "ь". I'd love to have it checked and corrected, since I'm afraid it's basically wrong.

    In Russian, the consonants that might be soft or hard fall into two categories:
    1)Those which are pronounced using the tongue; this includes: д, л, н, р, т.
    2)Those which are not.

    In the first group, there is a marked distinction between soft and hard counterparts. Soft т, for instance, is quite a different consonant from hard т: "Тёмный" is NOT pronounced like "Тйомный".
    In the second group, the distinction between hard and soft is merely that a й sound is added to make the hard ones soft. Soft ф, for instance is the same thing as фй: Фёдор is pronounced exactly like Фйодор.

    The way I figure, the difference between hard and soft б in "быть/бить" is not the same sort of difference as the one between hard and soft т in "говорит/говорить", as б and т do not belong in the same group.

    Again, I'm not sure about the accuracy of this. Ребята, исправьте меня, если я что-то неправильно понял!
    "If in the end, Misha, you are destined to lose this game, there is no need for the reason to be cowardice!"

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    Старший оракул CoffeeCup's Avatar
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    Re: Softness among other questions!

    Quote Originally Posted by Misha Tal
    Soft т, for instance, is quite a different consonant from hard т: "Тёмный" is NOT pronounced like "Тйомный".
    Yes. You are absolutely right here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Misha Tal
    Soft ф, for instance is the same thing as фй: Фёдор is pronounced exactly like Фйодор.
    Sorry. I don't understand you here. We never pronounce "Ё" after a consonant as "ЙО". We ALWAYS pronounce it as ONE sound only. I see no difference between "Фёдор" and "Тёмный" from this point of view.
    So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

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    Re: Softness among other questions!

    get a course with good audio like Living Language, for $50 you get 8CDs and the text.
    Кому - нары, кому - Канары.

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    Re: Softness among other questions!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gsl9ZGfy2nE

    I underlined the soft consonants. Listen and remember.
    "Однажды, далеко-далеко на севере случилось удивительное чудо"
    "Неизвестно откуда появился маленький мамонтёнок"

    *Red - the narrator pronounces the маленький as the маленькай. It's an accent within Russia, and it's not quite correct.

    Pick any word from them and listen to it for several times, listening the soft consonants.
    Another month ends. All targets met. All systems working. All customers satisfied. All staff eagerly enthusiastic. All pigs fed and ready to fly.

  11. #11
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    Re: Softness among other questions!

    Quote Originally Posted by Eugene-p
    *Red - the narrator pronounces the маленький as the маленькай. It's an accent within Russia, and it's not quite correct.
    It's not an accent per se, it's an old-fashioned pronunciation which was popular among some announcers and actors (I don't remember, if it was considered Moscow or St.-P. "fashion").

    In Russian, the consonants that might be soft or hard fall into two categories:
    1)Those which are pronounced using the tongue; this includes: д, л, н, р, т.
    2)Those which are n
    Sorry, it's a misconception.
    "Ё" is pronounced as "йо" (yogurt) only at the beginning of words (eg. "ёлка") or after a "hard sign" (подъём). After all consonants it's pronounced the same way - approximately as in the word "early" (eg. пёс, фёдор, семён, сёла, etc.). "Йо" in these cases would be a strong foreign accent.

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    Re: Softness among other questions!

    (No native speaker would say that ё is pronounced as in "early"; they are completely different. Russians cannot pronounce words like "early" or "girl" without a lot of practice. ё is the closest they can get without it. It is probably on a par with an English speaker trying to get his tongue around the difference between palatalized and nonpalatalized consonants!)

    Russian consonants that come in pairs - palatalized and nonpalatalized:
    dental t d s z n
    labial p b f v m
    velar k g x
    liquid r l

    ex: том тём, нос нёс phonetically: [tom t'om, nos n'os]
    матч мяч [mač m'ač]

    The palatalization is indicated by the spelling of the VOWEL not the consonant! Thus, Russian has two ways to spell vowels following hard and soft consonants:
    a э ы о у
    я е и ё ю
    There is a slight difference in pronunciation between ы and и that is not found between the other four pairs.

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    Почтенный гражданин Misha Tal's Avatar
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    Re: Softness among other questions!

    Thanks everyone.
    I knew it was too simplified to be correct!
    All I can confidently say is that, as chaika and others have already pointed out, all attempts at conveying this concept of palatalization in words are unsuccessful. Audio is surely the most reliable way.
    "If in the end, Misha, you are destined to lose this game, there is no need for the reason to be cowardice!"

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    Re: Softness among other questions!

    Quote Originally Posted by chaika
    (No native speaker would say that ё is pronounced as in "early"; they are completely different. Russians cannot pronounce words like "early" or "girl" without a lot of practice. ё is the closest they can get without it.
    I agree, but I could not explain it any better. Anyway, it's not "yo".

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    Властелин Medved's Avatar
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    Re: Softness among other questions!

    Russian consonants that come in pairs - palatalized and nonpalatalized:
    dental t d s z n
    labial p b f v m
    velar k g x
    liquid r l
    palatalized and nonpalatalized????
    Maybe voiced and voiceless though?

    And I wouldn't say that the С/З are palatalized..at least I don't palatalize them, but my Russian is perfect
    http://www.logoped.ru/zv-s01.htm
    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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    Re: Softness among other questions!

    Right. I should have used the Russian letters. What I meant was there are certain pairs of consonants that occur with palatalized and nonpalatalized forms. ("consonant" is something like "dental stop".) Palatalized consonants are usually written by linguists as a letter followed by an apostrophe, as I did in my examples.
    So the pairs are:
    dental t/t' d/d' s/s' z/z' n/n' these are written as т д с з н
    labial p/p' b/b' f/f' v/v' m/m' these are п б ф в м
    velar k/k' g/g' x/x' these are к г х
    liquid r/r' l/l' these are р л
    This is generally the case though with voicing something like дь can be probounced as [t']. Ведь вы это уже знали, не так ли?

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    Re: Softness among other questions!

    Quote Originally Posted by chaika
    This is generally the case though with voicing something like дь can be probounced as [t'].
    I can't imagine examples of this, unless the consonant is at the end (but this is just a typical voice reduction):

    лошадь [лошат'], compare to народ [нарот]
    but лошади [лошад'и]

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    Re: Softness among other questions!

    да, на конце фразы. А также это будет слова типа лошадька.

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    Re: Softness among other questions!

    Оглушение согласных на конце слова не связано с твердостью или мягкостью, оно универсально.

    Слова лошадька нет, правильно - лошадка [лашАтка].

    Новогодняя песенка:

    "...Лошадка мохноногая торопится-бежит.
    Везет лошадка дровенки, а в дровнях - мужичок,
    Срубил он нашу ёлочку под самый корешок".

    Спасибо за ваш искренний интерес к русскому языку!

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    Re: Softness among other questions!

    Ведь вы это уже знали, не так ли?
    Хехе. Да. Я же русский!

    I guess you mean Palatalized and non-palatalized sounds as I call them "hard" and "soft" ones (palatalized - soft).
    Yeah, there's a number of basic "hard" consonants (you enumerated all of them absolutely right), each of which has a corresponding "soft" sound. The soft sound is made by additional lifting the middle of the tongue up to the hard palate like trying to squash up a raspberry inbetween the tongue and the palate (with a good cheesy smile ).
    Here is all of the secret. Nothing more.

    And I can't imagine the лошадька (лошатька) word pronounced, too.
    Well, maybe as a joke only.

    Вот ЛОШАДЬ - да. Произносится как "ЛОШАТЬ"

    да, на конце фразы.
    На конце слова. It's оглушение (unvoicing) of the last consonant of the word, when voiced consonants turn into unvoiced ones.
    It's a common rule and it works everywhere. Сад - [сат], роз - [рос] (from роза) etc.
    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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