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Lesson Transcript

Zdrastvuite, Ya Svetlana! Welcome to Russianpod101.com’s Алфавит Made Easy!
The fastest, easiest, and most fun way to learn the Russian Cyrillic alphabet: the Алфавит!
In this lesson, we'll be learning the system of accents in the Russian language and learn how it affects word stress and the pronunciation of some letters. As we have gone through the series, I have told you from time to time that certain letters aren't always pronounced the same way. Well, in this lesson we'll clarify why and when that is.
In fact, writing with accents in Russian makes reading it much easier. So why did we wait until the end of the series to introduce it? Because unfortunately, it isn't used outside of textbooks and is really just a teaching and learning aid.
Every word in Russian has a stressed syllable. In English, even knowing which syllable has stress doesn't always help you pronounce the word correctly because so many spellings are irregular.
Russian, on the other hand, is much more phonetic, so knowing the letter combination and which syllable is stressed will help you read the word correctly 99% of the time.
Let's think back to those letters which have multiple pronunciations. There are only two: “O”, and “E” . So for example, “O” can be read as “O” or “ah”, but how do we know when? Well, it depends on whether or not they are the stressed vowel in the word. When “O”, and “E” are stressed, they sound normal. So let’s see a simple case.
We denote stressed syllables by writing a “знак ударения” - an accent mark - above the stressed vowel, but if a word is only one syllable there's only one place for the stress to go. For example:
“он”
“есть”
So you know it's one syllable, and you know that when “O”, and “E” are stressed they sound normal, so you can predict exactly how to pronounce these words.
Let's look at a few more examples where there is more than one syllable but the “O”, or “E” is still stressed.
“Ольга"
“форель”
As you can hear, and see from the accent marks, the “О” in “Ольга,” and the “е” in “форель,” are the stressed vowels. But what about when they are UNstressed? Well, let's find out!
“O” is pretty easy. When it is unstressed it sounds like the letter “A”. So, here's a word that has both stressed and unstressed “O”s:
хорошо
Here we see that there are 3 “O”s, but only one is stressed, so it's easy to hear how the other 2 “O”s sound like “ah”. You probably remember this word means “good” or “well.”
хорошо
“E” is a little more complicated, but it usually sounds like a very short “ih”.
Here's a word with an unstressed “E”:
Бу́дет
“Бу́дет” means “will be”. Because it isn't stressed, the “E” is pronounced as “ih”. Can you hear it?
Бу́дет
Ok, you've practiced on words but now let's see a whole sentence.
[pause] I'm not going to read it right away. Try and figure out how it's pronounced by yourself. [slightly longer pause] It's read as “Два медве́дя в одно́й берло́ге не живу́т.” and means “Two bears won't live in the same den,” meaning something like “This town is too small for the both of us.”
Два медве́дя в одно́й берло́ге не живу́т.
Now it's time for Svetlana’s insights.
Accent marks are a great way to learn how to pronounce a word. But try not to depend on them too much, and remember that they are just an educational tool - not something you will experience in real life. Good luck!
In the next lesson, we'll compare how Russian punctuation differs from English punctuation and learn some fun idioms along the way! See you in the next Алфавит Made Easy lesson!
Пока Пока

23 Comments

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RussianPod101.com Verified
Friday at 06:30 PM
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Please write your favorite Russian saying here!

RussianPod101.com Verified
Wednesday at 12:49 AM
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Hello Сolin,


You are welcome.

Please let us know if you have more questions.😄


Elena

Team RussianPod101.com

Сolin
Thursday at 06:56 AM
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Спасибо, Светлана. Now I know why I see Иркутск(Irkutsk) written with an accent mark over the у when I click on an information icon on Google Earth.

RussianPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 07:41 AM
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Hello Tilia,

Unfortunately, stress has no rules. Where to put stress is what you have to remember. :sweat_smile:

You can find stress in all dictionaries.


Elena

Team RussianPod101.com

Tilia
Tuesday at 03:08 AM
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I still don't understand E and O will say differently when it's unstress but How I do really know when the stress plus what the mark really do :sob::sob::sob:

RussianPod101.com Verified
Saturday at 07:35 AM
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Hello Alessandro,

Yes, you are right about pronunciation of "e" vowel.

However, the [o] rule is very strict, and if you will say [o] instead of [a] - this is a big mistake.

[e] - [i] rule is not so strict. You can say [e] every time and it will not be a mistake. You will not sound 100% natural, but still will be OK.


Elena

Team RussianPod101.com

Alessandro
Wednesday at 04:21 AM
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Hi,

Thanks for these wonderful lessons!

Regarding accents and therefore vowels reduction, I have a question about the pronunciation of the vowel "e".

Even though in the video it's said that, compared to the vowel "o", the "e" case is more complicated, there are not so many examples. So, the general rule is that when stressed is pronunced like "ye" and when unstressed like a "fast i"?

Where's the difference respect to the "o" case?

Thanks!

Alessandro

RussianPod101.com Verified
Thursday at 05:44 PM
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Hello Rabeh AlEnazy,


Thank you for learning Russian with us!


Elena

Team RussianPod101.com

Rabeh AlEnazy
Wednesday at 01:55 PM
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I think I'm able of reading words written in Russian now

yet I still need more practice

I spend only 3 days studying

now I can read

:sunglasses:

RussianPod101.com Verified
Thursday at 11:57 AM
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Hi Kirsten,


Thank you for posting!

We have a Listening Comprehension series that might be very helpful for you :wink:

https://www.russianpod101.com/index.php?cat=Bonus+Video+Courses

Let us know if you have questions.


Cheers,

Laura

Team RussianPod101.com

Kirsten
Tuesday at 10:38 AM
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I like Умный в гору не пойдёт, умный гору обойдёт. because it shows that hard work alone will not always get you to where you want to go faster (although it is certainly not a bad thing). Thank you so much for the lessons, they've been really helpful! Hopefully I can read handwritten Russian with a lot more ease now.

Do you know where I can practice listening to Russian pronunciations in a natural setting? I have a lot of difficulty picking sounds out when people are speaking fast, and I still can't speak quickly (I'm worried I sound a bit like a child :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:).