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Lesson Transcript

Welcome to Introduction to Russian.
My name is Alisha and I'm joined by...
Hi everyone! I'm Katya.
In this lesson, you'll learn the basics of Russian pronunciation.
Russian pronunciation is arguably easier to learn than English!
Consider the following English words:
The first word is pronounced "colonel", not "co-lo-nel".
The second word is pronounced "arise." Adding an N however, doesn't give you "a-rise-n" but "arisen."
The last word is pronounced "eight," but adding an H doesn't give you "h-eight." Instead, it becomes "height."
arise - arisen
eight - height
English is notorious for being a difficult language to learn and it can be very frustrating for learners due to the fact that its pronunciation rules often don't make a lot of sense.
Russian, on the other hand, can seem like a blessing when compared to English.
Дуб (oak) Dup
Вода (water) Vada
Дом (house) Dom
Russian is primarily pronounced as it's spelled. There are some exceptions, but they are governed by more defined rules compared to English. Even long words, like the greeting you learned in the previous lesson, are largely pronounced as written.
Здравствуйте (hello) Zdra stvuy te
All you need to learn now then, are the sounds of Russian.
There are many vowel and consonant sounds in Russian. Luckily, Russian puts its letters into two main categories of sounds: Hard and soft.
There are a total of 10 vowels in Russian, and they are divided equally. There are 5 hard vowels, which are a little similar to English:
a, э, ы, o, у (a, e, y, o, u)
And 5 soft vowels. These are vowels that have an added glide or Y-like quality, making them sound softer:
я, е, и, ё, ю (ya, e, i, yo, yu)
Please note, though, that the number of vowel sounds do not equal the number of vowel letters. There are actually more vowel sounds than represented by letters.
Similar to vowels, consonant sounds can also be hard or soft.
б, бь (b, b’)
в, вь (v, v’)
д, дь (d, d’)
з, зь (z, z’)
"denotes palatalization" or "softening"
Unlike vowels though, consonants aren't differentiated into separate letters based on their hardness or softness alone. A single consonant letter is used to represent two sounds: one hard...
м (m)
and one soft.
м (мь)
This is because Russian is actually read in blocks. We use the closest vowel which comes after the consonant to indicate whether to pronounce the consonant hard or soft.
If the consonant is followed by a hard vowel... then the consonant is also pronounced hard.
ма ma
масло (butter) masla
On the other hand, if the consonant is followed by a soft vowel... then the consonant is also pronounced soft.
мя mya
мясо (meat) myasa
The many contrasts between hard and soft consonant and vowels is what gives Russian its distinct gliding sound.
We saw before how a relationship exists between letters and sounds based on their hardness. Voicing is another quality that's important to be aware of when learning Russian pronunciation.
Voicing, simply refers to whether or not your vocal cords are vibrating or not vibrating. English has voiced pairs as well. Consider the following letters:
p, b
t, d
k, g
Do you notice the relationship between these letters? The letters in each pair are pronounced exactly the same, the only difference being that one requires your vocal cords to vibrate, and the other, to not vibrate.
p, b
t, d
k, g
Sounds that do not require vibration of the vocal cords, like all the ones on the left-hand side, are considered "voiceless". While sounds that do require vibration of the vocal cords, like all the ones on the right-hand side, are considered "voiced".
Consider the following example in Russian. This letter is pronounced:
Бог (God)
г (g)
But this word here, isn't pronounced bog but bok.
pronounce the first one Бог
Notice how the letter г is written, which is a voiced letter, but it's actually pronounced as the letter к, a voiceless letter.
So what ended up happening? The final consonant is a voiced consonant, but when the word is being pronounced, the letter is actually read using the voiceless counterpart instead.
This occurs to ALL words that end in a final consonant in Russian. Final consonants are pronounced voiceless. So despite what's written, ALWAYS pronounce the final consonant in Russian using the voiceless version.
б b
зуб (tooth) (zup)
з z
без (without) (bez)
The key to perfecting Russian pronunciation is to master hard and soft pairs, and voiced pairs.
Unlike many other languages, Russian pronunciation is heavily affected by sounds that are adjacent to each other, often adopting the sound qualities of the letters that surround them.
Once you understand this concept, and the relationship between hard and soft pairs, and voiced pairs, Russian pronunciation actually becomes quite logical and easy to learn.
Okay. Let's wrap up this lesson by recapping what we've learned.
In this lesson, we introduced you to some important concepts for learning Russian pronunciation. You learned that there are hard and soft pairs in Russian, about voiced pairs in Russian, and that letters can adopt these sound qualities.
If you're interested in learning more about Russian pronunciation, check out the entire course we created named "The Ultimate Guide to Russian Pronunciation." In that course, we cover and break down every single sound in the Russian language, showing you mouth and tongue positioning, and giving you tips to help you perfect your Russian Pronunciation.
Video is in "Linked Videos" folder on dropbox
In the next lesson, we'll introduce you to the basics of Russian Grammar, where you'll learn about Russian word order and how to build basic phrases in Russian.
See you in the next lesson. Bye!


Please to leave a comment.
😄 😞 😳 😁 😒 😎 😠 😆 😅 😜 😉 😭 😇 😴 😮 😈 ❤️️ 👍

RussianPod101.com Verified
Friday at 06:30 PM
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Did you like this video? Try also our Ultimate Russian Pronunciation Guide! https://www.russianpod101.com/index.php?cat=55

RussianPod101.com Verified
Saturday at 09:36 AM
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Здравствуйте Hanfiel sanchez,

Thank you so much for your positive message! 😇❤️️

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

We wish you good luck with your language studies.

Всего наилучшего,


Team RussianPod101.com

Hanfiel sanchez
Thursday at 06:35 AM
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You guys are awesome. Upset that I didn’t join sooner.

RussianPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 01:20 AM
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Здравствуйте Santiago,

Спасибо for taking the time to leave us your positive and kind comment. 😇 We are very happy to see your enthusiasm! Waiting for you in our Premium PLUS! 😇

Let us know if you have any questions!

Всего наилучшего,

Левенте (Levente)

Team RussianPod101.com

Santiago Salguero
Saturday at 11:12 AM
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Each day, I love this language more and more! Thanks for the great lessons, this content for beginners is very useful. I will upgrade to Premium Plus soon. For now just absorbing like and sponge.


RussianPod101.com Verified
Friday at 07:49 PM
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Здравствуйте mohsen,

Спасибо for taking the time to leave us your kind comments. Welcome to RussianPod101.com! 😇

We regularly give away easy-to-understand, colorful eBooks included in our lessons. Furthermore, we have dozens of cheat sheets organized around a particular topic that you can freely download from our site! If you are interested in grammar in particular, please head over to our Grammar Bank where you can filter for specific grammar points and look up the corresponding lesson(s) where that grammar topic is included: https://www.russianpod101.com/russian-grammar/.

Let us know if you have any more questions!

Всего наилучшего,

Левенте (Levente)

Team RussianPod101.com

Friday at 06:54 PM
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Preferably grammar👍

Friday at 06:51 PM
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hi.could you introduce a book that teaches Russian beacause I wanna immigrate to Russia 1 year later

Friday at 06:43 PM
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👍👍👍👍👍you teach Russian great

RussianPod101.com Verified
Monday at 12:05 AM
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Здравствуйте Rex,

Please note that this is a pronunciation-related material, therefore the point here is not to teach how to read and write Russian Cyrillic but to show you what are the same, what are similar, and what are very different sounds in Russian. If you are still a newbie and haven't mastered the Russian alphabet, I'd recommend you to check out this series: https://www.russianpod101.com/lesson-library/russian-alphabet-made-easy/ where you will have the chance to learn each and every member of the Russian alphabet thoroughly. 😉

Всего наилучшего,

Левенте (Levente)

Team RussianPod101.com

Friday at 05:15 PM
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Aren't there anymore letters?

If yes then make a video about all the letters