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Lesson Transcript

Hi everyone.
Welcome to The Ultimate Russian Pronunciation Guide.
In this series, you'll master Russian pronunciation. Proper pronunciation is essential in Russian, and in this series, you'll learn it in a fast, comprehensive, and easy way.
In this first lesson, you'll learn about the building blocks of the Russian pronunciation system that will help you in future lessons.
The Russian alphabetical writing system is derived from the Cyrillic script, which is one of the most commonly used writing systems in the world. The Russian alphabet is made up of 33 letters, consisting of 21 consonants, 10 vowels, and two extra letters which act as modifiers.
But be careful not to fall into a very common trap: as you're learning to *speak* correctly, you shouldn't concern yourself with all the letters. That's right -- forget them! You care about the *sounds* of Russian and here they are:
There are 38 consonant sounds and 13 vowel sounds. Each symbol that you see here represents a single sound determined by the IPA, which is a standardized way to represent sounds *without* the baggage that's usually involved with traditional letters. By using all of these sounds, you can form every single word in Russian.
Have you noticed how most consonant sounds in Russian exist in pairs?
"к, кь
м, мь"
In each pair, there is the original pronunciation of the consonant sound...
and that same sound, but with an added Y sound.
Nearly all consonant sounds in Russian exist in this kind of pairing. So if you know how to pronounce the original sound, it's quite easy to figure out its counterpart, simply by adding an additional Y sound.
Still seem complicated? Well how about this: of the 37 consonant sounds in Russian, you *already know* 15 of the original sounds. That's right, if you're a native English speaker, then you already make these sounds every day!
You can also ignore 10 of the vowel sounds for the very same reason.
With just a tiny bit of effort and creativity, you could effectively ignore 14 more consonant sounds, simply by adding a Y sound to the ones that you already know.
The only thing standing between you and Perfect Russian Pronunciation is 8 new consonant sounds and 3 new vowel sounds. You can handle that!
Now let me introduce Katya, who will be helping you to master these new sounds.
"Hello, I'm Katya" in Russian
Katya will be giving you native pronunciation examples for you to imitate. But for this first lesson, just sit back and listen to the unique sounds of Russian:
"рыба (fish)
горло (throat)"
"река (river)
три (three)"
"синий (blue)
есть (to be, to eat)"
"щётка (brush)
щель (chink; gap)"
"цель (goal)
отец (father)"
"чай (tea)
часы (watch)"
"жест (gesture)
тяжёлый (heavy)"
"дрожжи (yeast)
езжу (I ride, I drive)"
"ты (you)
мы (we)"
"южный (southern)
юноша (young man)"
"Россия (Russia)
молокo (milk)"
In the next lesson, we'll look at the top 5 pronunciation mistakes Russian learners make. You'll want to make sure not to fall into these common traps.
After that, we'll begin going through the vowels and consonants of Russian. This is your chance to learn how to correctly say all of the words you just heard.
We'll finish up the series by covering some special topics that will really make your Russian sound natural!
To close this lesson, here's a question for you.
Why is it important to spend time on learning proper pronunciation, even if you're already an advanced speaker?
The answer...
You will be understood, and this will help you build more confidence as you communicate in Russian. For beginners, you're creating a strong foundation to build on. And for more advanced students, this is your chance to improve your accent and lose any bad habits you may have picked up.
What is the hardest part of Russian pronunciation? Tell us about it in the comments.
See you in the next Ultimate Russian Pronunciation Guide lesson!