In the last 3 posts we learnt 3 categories of the Russian Alphabet: True Friends, False Friends and New Friends.
Today I will introduce the last group of completely new letters and sounds.
The Fourth Group: Strangers.
These are the sounds that you probably never saw before and that don’t have a direct equivalent in the English alphabet. There are totally 12 of them:
Жж Ёё Йй Цц Чч Шш Щщ Ъъ Ыы Ьь Юю Яя
Жж - [Zh]: this letter sounds like S in exposure. Although English doesn’t have such a letter, it does have this sound, so it isn’t difficult to pronounce. Ж looks like a bug (ЖУК), which buzzes and makes a noise Жжжжжжжжжж!
Журна́л - journal, magazine
Пари́ж - Paris
Пассажи́р - Passenger
Ёё - [Yo]: this is the youngest letter of the Russian alphabet, it is written like е which you already know, but has two dots on top; and unlike [ye] in yes sounds like [yo] in yogurt. This letter will make your life easier one day (I am not saying too much to anticipate); it also has a monument in the Russian city Ulyanovsk - imagine!
Ёлка - Christmas Tree
Мёд - honey
Актёр - actor
Йй - [Yuh]: the letter Й also looks just like the letter you know, И, but wears a “hat”. The sound though is totally different, it sounds like the last sound Y in May, fly or boy and is called “И Кра́ткая” [i kratkaya]
Йо́гурт - yogurt
Йо́га - yoga
Май - May
Майами - Miami
Цц - [TS]: sounds like TS in cats or Z in pizza, looks like rectangular U with a tail.
Центр - center
Цирк - circus
Цент - cent
Та́нец - dance
Watch out for this letter for it is treacherous: the examples above show that the letter Ц is often used when C is used in English. It is very easy to forget and pronounce С instead, which is not the same letter at all.
Чч - [Ch]: the sound is pleasantly familiar, like CH in chat, and the appearance might remind you of the CHair upside down (or a number 4, whichever suits your memory better):
Чай - tea
Чек - cheque, receipt
Ча-ча-ча́ - Cha-cha-cha
Шш - [Sh]: again here the sound is familiar, SH in short, shame etc. It looks like a comb, imagine the comb is making the sound Ш every time you pass it on your hair.
Шок - shock
Шо́ппинг - shopping
Да́ша - my short name :)
Шеф - boss (that’s a confusing word, which always makes my husband Mark laugh when I say I am a chef in our family)
Щщ - [Shch]: oh that sound in the square brackets looks perplexing! It is a soft Ш, and thankfully this sound exists in English: SH in sheet, sheep, and other words where SH precedes I or EE.
Щи - Russian cabbage soup Shchi
Борщ - Borscht
Ыы - [I] - finally we got to a completely new sound which doesn’t exist in English. It is the sound [i], but strengthening the root of the tongue. Imagine you are saying the Russian sound У, and while saying it try to smile as wide as possible. I believe it’s easier to understand from the video so I am planning to make a short one with the possible techniques to improve this letter pronunciation. The appearance of this Stranger might also confuse from time time and seem like 2 different letters. Be alert with Ы!
Ты - you
Мы - we/us
Вы - you plural (youse in Scotland) or formal you
Сыр - cheese
Юю - [Yu]: looks like a fish and sounds like U in Utah, or you in you - it is an easy sound, it is more difficult to remember how to write it.
Ю́мор - humour
Тюльпа́н - tulip
Югосла́вия - Yugoslavia
Яя - [Ya]: sounds like YA in yard, and looks like a mirrored R. This letter Я - is a very important word, which means I/me.
Иде́я - idea
Яма́йка - Jamaica
Я́хта - yacht
So these were the letters which have sound, and there are 2 left who don’t have any:
Ъ (hard sign) and Ь (soft sign). They are used to make preceding consonants hard or soft correspondingly.
Hard sign also creates a pause:
Инъе́кция - injection
Нью-Де́ли - New Delhi
Тайва́нь - Taiwan
Роль - role
For now I suggest not to dig deeper in these signs, you will learn more about them when the time comes.
So the last 4 posts introduced you to 4 categories of the Russian Alphabet, 33 letters in total.
It is not obligatory to know the Alphabetic order now, but it might be a good to watch the video below (and maybe to sing along with it):
And if you want to move forward and have classes with me in Glasgow or by Skype,
You are welcome to contact me.