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Lesson Transcript

Eddie: RussianPod101. Pronunciation, Lesson 4 - Basic Pronunciation Rules. Hello everybody, I'm Eddie, and welcome to RussianPod101, Pronunciation series.
Oksana: I'm Oksana. This lesson follows the series of podcasts of how letters and sounds come together to form Russian.
Eddie: Yes, armed with all this knowledge of the sounds, we're going to now give you some basic rules about Russian pronunciation.
Oksana: All condensed into five tips!
Eddie: Okay, let's get down to business. First, let's look at word stress.
Oksana: Word stress is very important, just like in any language. In Russian, we don't say all the syllables of the word with the same strength; rather, we accentuate one syllable.
Eddie: This syllable is pronounced much more loudly than the others, and the stressed vowel is usually pronounced more clearly and longer than the others.
Oksana: If you don't stress the right syllable, it can lead to confusion, and native speakers will have difficulty understanding you.
Eddie: There are no rules to help you stress a word correctly. It's just something you learn for each word, and it's something you pick up along the way.
Oksana: One of the reasons it's so important is because the stress can totally change the meaning of the word. For example…"Замок" with the stress on the first syllable is "a castle", and "замок" with the stress on the last syllable is "a lock".
Eddie: Wow, and if you live in a castle and you need to lock it, it becomes a tongue twister! The second tip is about changing vowels.
Oksana: Some Russian vowels are pronounced differently when not stressed. If "-o" isn't stressed, it's pronounced almost like "-a." The word "молоко" is a good example. The stress is on the last "-o," so we actually say [ malako ].
Eddie: Another example is "-e". When not stressed, it's pronounced somewhere between "-е" and "-и".
Oksana: Yes, that's right. For example, when we hear the word "телефон", we can't tell whether the first "-e" is pronounced "-e" or "-и".
Eddie: And the same applies to "деревня", which means "a village". The first syllable isn't stressed, so it's pronounced between "-e" and "-и". The second syllable is stressed, so the vowel is pronounced "-е".
Oksana: Also, "зелёный", which is the color "green". The stress is on "-ё", so the first "-e" is pronounced between "-e" and "-и".
Eddie: That's two tips already. Very straightforward.
Oksana: Yes, now let's take a look at soft consonants.
Eddie: Yes. Some vowels in Russian change the consonant that precedes them. These vowels are "-е", "-ë", "-и", "-ю", and "я".
Oksana: The consonants that precede these vowels are softened. Listen carefully to these syllables to hear how the consonant changes…"-бэ" – "-бе", "-то" – "-тë", "-лы" – "-ли", "-лу" – "-лю", "-ма" – "-мя".
Eddie: Yes, you can hear it.
Oksana: Now listen to the words and try to pronounce them. "Тëтя". Try to pronounce that. (pause)
Eddie: "Тётя" means "auntie".
Oksana: "Дядя". (pause)
Eddie: "Uncle".
Oksana: "Люди". (pause)
Eddie: "People".
Oksana: "Мясо". (pause)
Eddie: "Meat".
Oksana: "Петь". (pause)
Eddie: "To sing".
Oksana: "Липа". (pause)
Eddie: "A lime tree".
Oksana: "Бюро". (pause)
Eddie: "A bureau". Great! Now we come to voiced and unvoiced consonants.
Oksana: Yes, Russian consonants are divided into two groups…voiced and unvoiced. As their name shows, for voiced consonants you use your voice, while for the others you don't.
Eddie: You don't hear your voice? At this point I think it would help you if got hold of the PDF notes for this lesson to see what we're referring to.
Oksana: Right. The voiced consonants are "-б", "-в", "-г", "-д", "-ж", "-з", "-р", "-л", "-м", and "-н".
Eddie: Could you give us the unvoiced consonants, please?
Oksana: Sure: "-к", "-п", "-с", "-т", "-ф", "-х", "-ц", "-ч", "-ш", and "-щ".
Eddie: Let`s talk a little bit about the difference between the voiced and unvoiced consonants.
Oksana: Twelve of the voiced and unvoiced consonants form pairs (the position of your lips and your tongue is the same for both sounds, but the only difference is that you use voice for voiced consonants). Listen and compare… "-Б" – "-п" (pause), "-В" – "-ф" (pause), "-Г" – "-к" (pause), "-Д" – "-т" (pause).
Eddie: The voiced consonants from the list ("-б", "-в", "-г", "-д", "-ж", and "-з") are pronounced differently at the end of a word and before unvoiced consonants.
Oksana: Actually, they become their unvoiced pairs! Let's take the word "снег", which is the word for "snow", as an example. It ends in "-г", which is voiced. So it isn't pronounced [ g ] but [ k ], [snek].
Eddie: That's a good example as it's easy to remember.
Oksana: Once again, when "-б", "-в", "-г", "-д", "-ж", and "-з" are at the end of the word, "-б" becomes "-п" (pause), "-в" becomes "-ф" (pause), "-г" becomes "-к" (pause), "-д" becomes "-т" (pause), "-ж" becomes "-ш" (pause), and "-з" becomes "-с".
Eddie: Good list. It's a very handy list to have. Here are some actual word examples. Look at the PDF notes to see the spelling of the words.
Oksana: "Готов", "лоб", "бег", "год", "падеж", and "глаз".
Eddie: When one of these six voiced consonants precedes an unvoiced consonant, the same thing happens.
Oksana: Yes, even if the consonants are not part of the same word! For example, "В понедельник", which means "on Monday", it`s pronounced [ fpanedel'nik ] and NOT [ vpanedel'nik ], because a voiced consonant, "-в", precedes an unvoiced consonant "-п".
Eddie: Okay, lastly let's look at exceptions.
Oksana: Well, luckily, there are only a few exceptions as far as Russian pronunciation is concerned, and if you know the rules, you'll be able to pronounce almost every word in Russian correctly when you see it in writing!
Eddie: And that's just fabulous.
Oksana: Well, there aren't many languages you can say that about, including English! The few exceptions we'll tell you about just confirm the rule.
Eddie: Firstly, in some words that contain "-его" or "-ого", "-г" is pronounced like "-в".
Oksana: For example, "его", which is the word for "his", and "сегодня", which means "today".
Eddie: Secondly, some words contain consonants that are not pronounced. Usually these are words with lots of consonants together.
Oksana: For example, let's look at "здравствуйте", which you probably already know means "hello". Here, the first "-в" isn't pronounced. And also, in "солнце", which is the Russian word for "the sun", the "-л" isn't pronounced.
Eddie: Excellent. That sums up this lesson for today.
Oksana: These five tips about Russian pronunciation, along with the previous lessons about Russian sounds, really give you everything you need on the road to perfect Russian pronunciation.
Eddie: It really is that simple. Of course, there are no shortcuts. You still have to study and learn this. But the real point is that once you learn everything we have delivered, you will have all the tools you need to pronounce Russian perfectly.
Oksana: Thanks for listening to us on RussianPod101.
Eddie: Ok, that's it for today. Remember, you can leave us a comment on this lesson.
Roxanna: So if you have a question, or some feedback, please leave us comment!
Eddie: It's very easy to do. Just stop by RussianPod101.com,
Oksana: ...click on comments,
Eddie: ...enter your comment and name,
Oksana: ...and that's it!
Eddie: We're looking forward to hearing from you! See you next time, bye!
Oksana: До скорого!


Please to leave a comment.
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RussianPod101.com Verified
Monday at 06:30 PM
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Monday at 04:24 PM
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1) The romanization of pronunciation of the words Готов, лоб, бег, год, глаз in the site’s dictionary is wrong (if what is taught in notes are right). The meaning and pronunciation of the word падеж is missing in the site’s dictionary.

2) As per the note, the romanization of the pronunciation of the words are Его and какого are [yev] and [kakov], respectively. Isn’t it [yeva] and [kakova] actually?


(Posted on 30-September-2019, IST 12:55)

RussianPod101.com Verified
Thursday at 11:25 AM
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Hello mohannad,

Thank you for posting.

Please let us know if you have any questions. :wink:


Team RussianPod101.com

Wednesday at 05:48 PM
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this is very useful lesson

thanks a lot.

RussianPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 03:54 PM
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Hello Rhona Hoggan,

Great! Don't hesitate to tell us if you have any questions or clarifications regarding the lesson. :innocent:

Happy studying!


Team RussianPod101.com

Rhona Hoggan
Saturday at 10:27 AM
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It's okay now. (relief). Don't know what was wrong.

Rhona Hoggan
Saturday at 10:16 AM
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It's not working. :disappointed:

RussianPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 08:56 PM
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Hello Michael,

It can be translated as bureau and as office, depending on a situation.


Team RussianPod101.com

Thursday at 11:33 AM
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On part 3 for soft consonants, бюро ("an office") was referred to as a bureau, not an office. Is that correct or does it mean either a bureau or an office?

Friday at 11:16 PM
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Please can you fix the Free Feed as it's broken again!

Chivon alyse
Tuesday at 05:51 PM
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thank you

you guys have been a great help in my Russian learning process!