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Lesson Transcript

Hi everyone.
Welcome to The Ultimate Russian Pronunciation Guide.
In this lesson, you'll learn all 13 Russian vowel sounds.
By learning all of these sounds, you'll be able to pronounce any vowel that could possibly appear in Russian!
Are you ready?
Then let's get started!
There are a total of 13 vowel sounds in Russian, all of which can be broken down into three categories: Hard indicating, Soft indicating, and unstressed vowel sounds.
First, let's take a look at all 5 Hard indicating vowel sounds.
The first vowel is...
"a
да (yes)
aтом (atom)
травa (grass)"
This vowel sound is identical to the A in 'far'. Be sure to lower your jaw and allow the mouth to open completely.
a, a (slowly)
a, a (slowly)
The next vowel is...
это (this)
экрaн (screen)
жест (gesture)"
This vowel sound is identical to the E in 'education'.
э, э (slowly)
э, э (slowly)
The next vowel is...
ты (you)
мы (we)
язык (language, tongue)"
Raise the middle part of your tongue all the way to the roof of your mouth until there's only a tiny opening for air to travel through. The back of the tongue should be flat against the back roof of the mouth, so that the tongue is tense. Try to create a narrow channel from the base of the throat, all the way to the roof of the mouth. Your lips should remain neutral. Listen to (host name).
ы, ы (slowly)
ы, ы (slowly)
The next vowel is...
"o
он (he)
oблако (cloud)
oвощи (vegetables)"
This vowel sound is very similar to the O in 'ore'. Exaggerating the lip-rounding may also help with the pronunciation of this sound.
o, o (slowly)
o, o (slowly)
The final hard indicating vowel is...
yдочка (fishing rod)
муж (husband)
пyля (bullet)"
This vowel sound is identical to the U in 'true'. Be sure to raise the back part of your tongue, all the way up against the back roof of your mouth. Exaggerating your lip-rounding may also help with the pronunciation of this sound.
y, y (slowly)
y, y (slowly)
You just learned 5 hard indicating vowel sounds. Now let's move on to soft indicating vowel sounds.
яблоко (apple)
ягода (berry)
яхта (yacht)"
This is identical to the 'ya' sound in 'yard'. Be sure to lower your jaw and allow your mouth to open completely.
я, я (slowly)
я, я (slowly)
The next vowel is...
есть (to be, to eat)
евро (euro)
ездить (to ride / to drive)"
It sounds very similar to the YE in 'year'.
e, e (slowly)
e, e (slowly)
The next vowel is...
имя (name)
пить (to drink)
щи (shchi)"
It's identical to the double E sound in 'see'.
и, и (slowly)
и, и (slowly)
The next vowel is...
тётя (aunt)
актёр (actor)
своё (my, his etc)"
It sounds very similar to the YO in 'your'.
ё, ё (slowly)
ё, ё (slowly)
The final soft indicating vowel is...
южный (southern)
юбка (skirt)
юноша (young man)"
It sounds very similar to 'you'. Be sure raise the back part of your tongue all the way up against the back roof of your mouth. Exaggerating your lip-rounding may also help with the pronunciation of this sound.
ю, ю (slowly)
ю, ю (slowly)
Well done. You've learned all the hard and soft indicating vowels in Russian. The final three vowel sounds are sounds that are only produced when certain vowels are in unstressed syllables.
The first vowel sound that occurs in unstressed syllables is...
"[ʌ] (o in Россия)
Россия [rʌˈsʲijə] (Russia)
молокo [məlʌˈko] (milk)
вода [vʌ'da] (water)"
This similar to the U in 'rustle'. The key part here, is to pronounce it quickly.
[ʌ], [ʌ] (slowly)
[ʌ], [ʌ] (slowly)
The next vowel sound is...
"[ə] (final o in oблако)
о́блако ['obləkə] (cloud)
новая [ˈnovəjə] (new)
кoжа ['koʐə] (skin)"
It's identical to the A in 'about'. When practicing, make sure you pronounce it 'uh-bout' instead of 'aye-bout'.
[ə], [ə] (slowly)
[ə], [ə] (slowly)
The final sound that occurs in unstressed syllables, and the final vowel sound for this lesson, is...
"[jɪ] (е in едa)
едa [jɪˈda] (food)
стебель (stalk)
дерево [ˈdʲerʲɪvə] (tree)"
It's identical to the YI in 'yippee'. The key part here, is to pronounce it quickly.
[jɪ], [jɪ] (slowly)
[jɪ], [jɪ] (slowly)
Well done! You've just learned all 13 vowel sounds in Russian!
With these sounds, you can pronounce any vowel that could possibly appear in the Russian language! Isn't that great?
Which vowel sound was the most difficult for you to pronounce? Let us know in the comments.
In the next lesson, you'll start learning consonant sounds.
See you in the next Ultimate Russian Pronunciation Guide lesson!

16 Comments

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RussianPod101.comVerified
Friday at 6:30 pm
Pinned Comment
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Which vowel sound was the most difficult for you to pronounce? Let us know in the comments.

RussianPod101.comVerified
Monday at 5:18 pm
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Hello Lexer,


Thank you for sharing. 😄


Elena

Team RussianPod101.com


Lexer
Sunday at 2:40 pm
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The schwa sound

RussianPod101.comVerified
Wednesday at 5:04 pm
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Hello Efrat,


Thank you for posting.

We'll get back to your question as soon as possible.


Sincerely,

Lena

Team RussianPod101.com

Efrat
Wednesday at 9:41 pm
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Hi,


So one APA sign is used for two Russian letters: еда and язык?

Thanks,

Efrat

RussianPod101.comVerified
Monday at 4:13 pm
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Hello Morten,


The IPA is used to accurately represent sounds in an objective manner, across languages. You can think of the IPA as a complete sound library of all human languages.


The sound that the letter ы creates, corresponds to the sound [ɨ] on the IPA. The easiest way to produce this sound is to raise the middle part of your tongue, all the way to the roof of your mouth so that it is slightly tense.


The letter ъ doesn’t produce a sound on it’s own. It is used to indicate that the preceding consonant is pronounced ‘hard,’ without palatalization.


To distinguish between Russian vowels o and a, it is easier to focus on the letter a first, since a will almost always be pronounced as you would expect it to be [a] like in ‘father.’


The vowel o on the other hand, can be pronounced in many other ways and is a little more complicated to get it right. We recommend to watch the video lesson again and focus on the sounds, and reproducing the sounds. After you can pronounce the sounds confidently, your connection with the sounds and the vowel o will come naturally as you continue your studies.


As for the Cyrillic keyboard, they should typically appear at the bottom right, in red, of each key on QWERTY type keyboards. One thing to note on the video, the symbols on the top right are IPA symbols, so you won’t find them on any keyboard. Please don’t confuse them for Russian letters. The Russian equivalents appear at the bottom in the Russian example words. Once again, this a lesson on pronunciation so it’s best to focus on the sounds and reproducing them correctly. It’s best not to concern yourself too much with letters at this point. You can learn the vowels and consonants in our writing series videos.


Good luck.

Cheers,

Lena

Team RussianPod101.com

Morten
Friday at 10:28 pm
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Hi.

Most difficult for me, right now is the ы, ъ.

And how to know when to use o, and not a?


What kind of symbol is this listed under the IPA column?

When to use them?

Never seen them before.


Hopefully you understand my question

Thank you

Morten
Friday at 4:44 am
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Hi.

What kind of format is these vowels / letters written in?

Nowhere to find on my cyrilick keyboard

RussianPod101.comVerified
Wednesday at 9:10 am
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Hello Clinton,


[й] is not a vowel. It is a consonant.


You can find information about this letter here:


https://www.russianpod101.com/lesson/pronunciation-3-russian-consonants/?lp=37


Elena

Team RussianPod101.com

Clinton
Monday at 4:02 pm
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Excellent lesson! Like many of the others, I find ы the most difficult. I am curious about one thing. Why is й not described?

RussianPod101.comVerified
Monday at 4:16 am
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Hello Javier,

Yes...This letter is a bit hard for foreigners. But I am sure it`s just a matter of time :grin:

Elena

Team RussianPod101.com