Jump to content
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...
  • entries
  • comments
  • views


Russian Sound Inventory

1st Post


For the sake of ease, I will include the "non-Linguistic" method of explaining the sounds as well as providing the IPA of each vowel and consonant (they will be wrapped in a parenthesis). Since I am at the beginning of the  book, I will not delve too deep into Allophony, merging, etc etc. Maybe the book will cover that later. I don't wish to jump ahead for my own good as well as anyone who may be reading this. Anyways... first I'll break them down into four groups, from easiest to say/remember to the hardest. I'll try to come up with image templates later on instead of relying on the very limited range of our editors (no BBCode SUCKS), but for now, please stick with me.


Group 1:


(Capital)    (Small)                            (Pronunciation)                                (IPA)

     А               а                     |           [a] as in father                                  (/a/)

     K               к                     |           [k] as in kangaroo                             (/k/ or /kʲ/)

    М               м                    |           [m] as in map or man                         (/m/ or /mʲ/)

    О               о                    |           [o] as in bottle *1                                (/o/)

    Т               т                    |            [t] as in tan or tool                              (/t/ or /tʲ/)



Now Group 2 will contain letters that look like English letters and you might try to pronounce them the same, but they aren't pronounced the same at all.


Group 2:


(Capital)             (Small)                            (Pronunciation)                                                                (IPA)

     В                       в                    |             [v] as in vet                                                                      (/v/ or /vʲ/)

     Е                       е                    |             [ye] as in yes                                                                   (/je/, / ʲe/ or /e/)

     Н                       н                    |             [n] as in never                                                                  (/n/ or /ɲ/)

     Р                       р                    |             [r] as in error *2                                                                 (/r/ or /rʲ/)

     С                       с                    |             [ s ] as in sit                                                                        (/s/ or /sʲ/)

     У                       у                    |             [oo] as in boot                                                                     (/u/)

     Х                       х                    |             [h] as in the German ch in Bach or the Scots Loch              (/x/)




Group 3:

(Capital)             (Small)                            (Pronunciation)                             (IPA)

      Б                        б                  |             [ b ] as in bet or bad                   (/b/ or /bʲ/)

      Г                        г                   |             [g] as in get or go                       (/ɡ/)

      Д                       д                   |             [d] as in do or debt                      (/d/ or /dʲ/)

      Ё                       ё                   |             [yo] as in yolk or yonder *3           (/jo/ or / ʲɵ/)

      З                       з                    |             [z] as in zoo                                   (/z/ or /zʲ/)

      И                      и                    |             [ee] as in me or eel                         (/i/ or / ʲi/)

      Й                      й                    |             [y] as in boy *4                                 (/j/)

      Л                      л                    |             [l] as in people                                   (/l/ or /lʲ/)

      П                      п                    |             [p] as in pet                                        (/p/ or /pʲ/)

     Ф                      ф                    |             [f] as in face or fat                                (/f/ or /fʲ/)

     Э                       э                    |             [e] as in met or fed                                (/ɛ/)

     Ю                     ю                    |             [yoo] as in use or universe                     (/ju/ or / ʲʉ/)

     Я                      я                     |             [ya] as in yak                                          (/ja/ or / ʲæ/)



Finally, we move onto the last group. The 'hardest' group!


Group 4:


(Capital)             (Small)                            (Pronunciation)                                                             (IPA)

Ж                            ж                   |             [zh] as in the s in pleasure                                            (/ʐ/)

Ц                             ц                   |             [ts] as in its or sits                                                          (/t͡s/)

Ч                              ч                   |             [ch] as in church                                                             (/t͡ɕ/)

Щ                            щ                   |             [ shsh] as in Welsh sheep or sheer                                 (/ɕɕ/)

Ш                            ш                   |             [ sh] as in shut                                                                  (/ʂ/)

Ы                             ы                   |             [ i ] as in bit or hit *5                                                         ( /ɨ/ )

Ь                              ь                   |             []  *6                                                                                   (/ ʲ/)                                                                     

Ъ                             ъ                   |             []  *7



Now let me direct some of the things I marked in the sound inventory with the symbol ‘ * ’.




Please note that in unstressed syllables standard Moscow pronunciation is of o is closer to the [a].



r is rolled like in Scottish English. Please click this link for more on the rolled r.



Russians usually omit the diacritic mark (the dots) so it will often look just like [е]. However, it retains the marks in dictionaries etc etc.



Й forms diphthongs, so óй sounds like oy in the word boy’, ‘sounds like ighin the word sigh’, and sounds like the oui in the name Louis



the /i/ is pronounced with the tip of the tongue further back in the mouth



In order to tell  you what this sounds like, it is only possibly to for me to give you the IPA. This sign is called the soft sign, silent. It palatalizes the preceding consonant—if it is phonologically possible. To remind you to pronounce this during transcriptions/pronunciation, I'll put a raised y y in place of the Russian letter.



This letter does not have a sound of its own, but works by preventing the palatalization of consonants. Both the soft sign and the hard sign became phonetic markers over time, meaning now  ь indicates that the preceding consonant is soft (palatalized) while ъ indicates that the preceding consonant is hard (non-palatalized).


These two letters are pretty hard for me to explain, so I encourage you to read the wikipedia pages for them (they are linked by clicking their letters respectively).




Just finishing up the corrections and stuff for the next entry! Expect it tonight (or early morning). Spoiler: it is about more pronunciation! ;)

Link to comment