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Lesson Number 2. The Russian Alphabet. False Friends.

In the previous lesson we discovered the letters which look and sound exactly like the English ones. And here we’ll have a look into the next category.

The Second Group: False Friends.

Ее Уу Вв Нн Рр Сс Хх

Ее - [Ye]: you will probably want to call it “e” [i], but it would not be correct. It sounds like “ye” in yellow. However, this letter is not that difficult and pronouncing it within the word should not cause much trouble, for example:

Те́ма - theme

Уу - [U]: looks like English Y, but sounds like U ("oo" in stool). Well, at least this sound is easy to make!

Ка́ктус - cactus

Тут - here

У́тка - duck

Вв - [V]: quite a tricky letter which most probably will cause confusion in your head. Sometimes, you may stumble here, reminding me of a Spanish speaker who makes a B sound instead of V. These are some examples of words you know how to pronounce now:

Ве́на - Vienna

Вот - this (is)

Вот Во́ва - this is Vova (short name for Vladimir, which does not always sounds polite to the English ear)

Вок - wok

Нн - [N]: looks like English h, but sounds like n. This illusion might haunt you a little longer. To help you to remember the letter н, just rotate the middle line to make it into N. And now you can read the following words:

Он - he

Она́ - she

Нет - no

Но́та - note

То́нна - ton

Конта́кт - contact

Рр - [R]: looks like English p, but the sound is Scottish or Spanish R. You have to trill your tongue, and if you’ve never done it before, it might require some effort. If it doesn’t come to you easy - don’t worry -, I only started to pronounce the Russian Р properly myself when I was 11 - even Russian children struggle with this sound! Here are some familiar words in unfamiliar writing:

Ка́рта - card/map

Ром - rum

Метро́ - metro

Торт - cake

Сс - [C]: looks exactly like English C, but sounds like S. English C sometimes sounds like S, too (when it is located in front of letters E,I,Y - for example ice, city, cycle), so it will not always be tricky. The words with Russian С:

Сок - juice (a kiosk with “Сок” was very funny for my husband Mark when he first saw it)

Нос - nose

Москва́ - Moscow

Мост - bridge

Хх - [H]: looks like English X, but pronounced as ch in Scottish “loch”, harder h sound; this might be a new sound for English people though. Here are the example of words with х:

Ха́ос - chaos

Хор - chorus

Ха́ки - khaki

These were 7 more letters of the Russian alphabet that you know now, and they are probably the hardest ones because they will try to deceive your brain again and again.

When Mark and his friend arrived first time in Moscow, they went not to рестора́н, but “pectopah”. We still sometimes call restaurants pectopahs, so much we loved this joke!

You might want to download some Russian alphabet app to help practise the alphabet and its sounds.

But more than that I would for sure recommend to learn Russian with a teacher, who would always help you realise where you make mistakes and work together to improve your Russian.

If you agree, you can always contact me for 121 or Skype lesson.


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