Online Russian Language Course - Lesson #4

author Kateryna Samokhvalova

Tricky Е Ё Ю Я of the Russian Alphabet

It might become an immense problem to speak Russian when you do not know the exact pronunciation of a letter in the Russian alphabet. Of course, in order to get the right way to articulate Russian sounds, you have options. One of them is to watch multiple tutoring videos and see how native speakers do it, another is to download a good dictionary with pronunciation option and listen to every word and sound. However, teaching practice shows that it is extremely necessary to have a tutor or a native speaker around to help you out, at least, because Russian is not something that surrounds you since childhood. And, individual Skype lessons with a Russian teacher might become a real savior on your way to success.

Anyway, in this article we will talk about 4 letters of the Russian alphabet that make foreigners stumble over.

The letters are Е[yeh] Ё[yoh] Ю[yu] and Я[yah]

So, the major problem that might occur with pronouncing these letters is that they are divided into two single sounds each. It is extremely important to understand this because the way the letters sound in the alphabet is not always the way they sound in a word. To be honest, there is nothing difficult or anything you can’t perceive. Every language has its own reading rules. This article looks precisely at one of the aspects of Russian reading and pronunciation.

Let’s try to read some words in Russian that contain these letters. Pay attention to the transcription and try to sound out the words correctly.

  1. Яма [ya - mah]
  2. Яблоко [yab – lah- kah]
  3. Ёлка [yol – kah]
  4. Ель [yehl’]
  5. Платье [plat’- yeh]
  6. Юлия [yu- lih – yah]
  7. Юла [yu – lah]
  8. Ладья [lah – diah]
  9. Питьё [pih – tyoh]
  10. Екатеринбург [yeh – kah- teh – rin – burg]

 

Basically, the four vowels that we are talking about here: е, ё, ю, я, they are double sounded as you can see from the transcriptions in the square brackets.

You can split the sound [ye] into to sounds [y] and [eh] and here comes totally another variant of pronouncing this. 1. The sound that stands before our four letters is soft. 2. Use just the second articulation of our vowels without [y]. Using these rules will help you sound as natural as possible. Please, turn to us for help in case you need one-to-one explanations on any study topic.

Meanwhile, here are some words with no [y] sound for you to practice:

  1.  Мяч (ball)
  2.  Печь (stove)
  3.  День (day)
  4.  Лень (laziness)
  5.  Лёд (ice)
  6.  Мёд (honey)
  7.  Дядя (uncle)
  8.  Тётя (aunt)
  9.  Крюк (hook)
  10.  Трюк (trick)

 

Some people think that reading is not important when you want to speak Russian. However, it is very hard to teach an adult person any foreign language when they do not have a text to stick to. Reading will help you understand how many words a speaker said, instead of a bulk of sounds you may hear. Please, do not hesitate to turn to us for help in case of need. Russian lessons via Skype help out a lot.

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