I'm a bit late but I have been studying a lot in my spare time in order to meet my schedule, so please forgive me for my lateness. Anyways.........!
Now the book I am using to study this with has a "skip" section on the handwriting section if your aim is to just read/speak it, but if you wish to persist through this too, I've taken some sample shots of the pages' instructions. If you need clearer images, I went ahead and googled some more references for you that you can get to by clicking the title of the Spoiler Tag. All of the Handwriting section will be under a spoiler, since by itself it is huge and because it is skippable.
Yup. That's the end of that. Feel free to practice it!
More on Russian Pronunciation: Stress
Just like in English (or many other languages) some syllables in Russian are pronounced more prominently than others. In English, for example, consider the differences of "Phótograph" and "Photógraphy". If you don't know the differences of the words, pronounce each carefully. Notice how in "Phótograph" you put more emphasis on the first syllable? And in the second word "Photógraphy" the stress is marked on the second syllable. Stress in Linguistics is signaled by an increased loudness, vowel length, full articulation of a vowel, and changes in pitch. If you need more information on syllables and stress, please consider looking into the links I have provided at the bottom of this entry under "Resources".
Continuing on: In Russian, normal writing does not mark stress visually, just like in English, so it is important to learn the stress of words or the general stress rule. Be careful though with stress in words and most definitely names, since the traditional English pronunciation is often never matches the Russian. For example, English speakers tend to put stress on "влади́мир" (Vladimir) in the first syllable like so "Vládimir", but in Russian stress is always placed on the second syllable, like so "[Vla-de’е-meer]".
Here are some more examples:
- The writer Pasternak is "Пастерна́к" (not Pа́sternak)
- Nabokov is "Набо́ков " (not Nа́bokov)
- Oblomov (a man in Goncharо́v's famous novel) is "Обло́мов" (not О́blomov)
Stress in Russian is heavier than it is in English and much harder to predict which syllable is going to get lucky and get marked for stress. Sometimes you will find that different forms of the same word will have different stresses. For example, in Russian hand "Рука́" and hands "Ру́ки" have two completely different stresses. The first "Рука́" has stress on the end and the second word "Ру́ки" has stress on the first. It is one of the many reasons why you should learn the stress of words you are learning/know of...otherwise, if you do not know the stress, the safest method to proceed is to read it without stress at all, syllable by syllable.
Next we delve into a bit more of the Linguistics of the language itself. If your goal is to just be understood, feel free to skip this. But if you are like me, you want to know how things work and why. If you are, the following six points will show you the small differences between Moscow Russian is written and the way it is pronounced.
Many call it the indication of a good Russian accent and from what I have heard and dealt with, I'd agree with them. I learned more about what this is actually called (and generally more about it) from a friend (@aalsuvorov) who has been willing to educate me further in Russian. What it is is the correct pronunciation of soft consonants and you might be wondering what "soft consonants" are. Well, "soft" means the consonant is pronounced with a simultaneous y sound. You can tell if a consonant is soft if it is followed by any of these letters/sounds:
е ё и ю я or the soft sign "Ь".
The main thing you must remember to do is pronounce the y sound with the consonant before it. Many people end up pronouncing the two separately instead of simultaneously. For example the word "сове́т" ('council') is pronounced [s-a-vy-е́-t] — that's five sounds. The vy (soft в) is not two sounds, but one! In English, we say it "s-o-v-i-e-t", six, instead of five sounds!
Hard Consonants vs Soft Consonants;
'Hard' consonants are pronounced just like in English, without the simultaneous y sound like in soft consonants. Earlier, in "", we learned there are twenty consonants. Of them, with the exception of "" and "", are all hard consonants. "" and "" are always soft! Of the other eighteen, fifteen of them will tell you if they are to be pronounced soft, as they will always be marked with any of "е ё и ю я" or the soft sign shown above. For example, "Л" [l] is hard but "Ль" [ly] is soft! That is to say, in Russian "[l]" and "[ly]" are two different sounds, but to many English speakers they probably just think it is a variant (allophone) of [l].
For example, compare the [l] in "people" to the [l] in "leaf". Do you hear the difference (different dialects might make this hard though)? The [l] in "people" is like "Л" (hard) while the [l] in "leaf" is like "Ль" (soft). Do you notice the differences? Here are some more examples of hard and soft consonants in Russian:
- Мйло [meela] 'nice' - hard л
- Мйля [meelya] 'mile' - soft ль
- Лук [look] 'onion' - hard l
- Люк [lyook] 'hatch' - [ly] is soft
- Мат [mat] 'bad language', 'abuse' - hard т
- Мать [maty] 'mother' - soft ть
- Мать [maty] 'mother' - hard М
- Мять [myaty] 'to crumple' - soft [my]
Before И the [y] element is less audible but please be aware that regardless the consonant is still soft.
- Бить [beety] 'to beat' - soft Б
However, if the 'Б' was hard, the vowel would not be и but ы. For example:
- Быть [bity] 'to be' - hard Б
Consonants that are always hard: Ж Ц Ш
Even though the letters е ё и ю я ь mark the preceding consonant soft, there are exceptions...like most languages. Thankfully not as much as French, though. They are the following: Ж Ц Ш. These letters are always—always—pronounced hard (no [y] sound!), no matter the following letter. Like the word Жена́ 'wife' is pronounced [zhe-nа́] —the [y] of the letter e [ye] simply disappears.And in Жёны 'wives' is pronounced as if it were written like Жо́ны [zhо́-ni]. Ты зна́ешь 'you know' is actually pronounced as if it were written like Ты зна́еш [znа́-yesh]. The soft sign has no effect and has become historical in usage only.
Oh, and before I forget to add it...after the letters 'Ж', 'Ц' and 'Ш' you should hear the vowel и [ee] pronounced as if it were actually ы [ i ]. As so:
- Жить [zhity] 'to live'
- Цирк [tsirk] 'circus'
Next time on Learning Russian! (lol) we learn about voiced and unvoiced consonants! How fun! Stick around and just remember...practice makes perfect! Or so they say...