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Please tell me how the written “e” pronounces. I have checked various online resources and am still not sure about it. I have found the following rules:

“e” is pronounced as:

ii – at begin of words, after vowels, after ь, after ъ

i – between consonant and vowel

ie – at the end of a word, after the consonant

Thank you.

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For a proper pronounce you should know three things:

  • iotizing
  • softening
  • reduction

Iotizing means that if Е stands at the beginning of the word, or after another vowel, or after hard or soft sign (Ь or Ъ), then it's iotized, i.e. it produces two sounds: Й+Э (as in YEllow)

Softening(Palatalisation) means that if Е stands after a consonant, then the consonant becomes a "soft variant"("palatalised"). (Note that Е gives only one sound "Э", as in Elbow, in this case). But if the consonant has no "soft variant"[Ш, Ж, Ц], then it doesn't change, of course.

That is Ель -> ЙЭл'; ЛЕc -> Л'Эс; МЕль ->М'Эл'; ЖЕчь -> ЖЭч'; ШЕст -> ШЭст etc.

Still one step remains so far. It's the Reduction.

Reduction may be applied to unstressed vowel (after proper iotizing and softening!) to pronounce it differently, so this is a matter of a dialect. Usually, unstressed Russian "Е" gives "И" (this is the most standard way, called "Иканье"). Though saying just "Э" is OK too.

So "Е(катеринбург)" usually yields "ЙИ(кат'ир'инбурк)". But stressed vowel is never changed, e.g.: подъЕзд -> падЙЭст.

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    That's very interesting that you transcribed "Екатеринбург" with a "x" at the end. Isn't final "г" devoiced into [k]? Друг [druk]? Are you from Екатеринбург? Is it the way its inhabitants pronounce the name of that city? Or is it interference of your local dialect? I'm Ukrainian, I'd pronounce it also with a [x] when I don't think about correct Russian pronunciation, but Wiktionary says it should be [k] at the end. – Yellow Sky Oct 25 '15 at 14:15
  • @YellowSky Russian, but quite far from Ural. Lower Volga, actually. Once I was in E-burg, but not really sure how they say it: either "-к" or maybe even "-г". Though there's old and rare form "Катеринбурх". After all, things like that are unstable. I can spell both "-к" and "-х". Whether it's a kind of "Ukrainian-influenced" or "Southern Russian" dialect, I can't say. – Matt Oct 25 '15 at 14:57
  • OK, I see. It's unlikely that it's "Ukrainian-influenced", if you're from the Lower Volga, it's more likely that that's Southern Russian. – Yellow Sky Oct 25 '15 at 15:02
  • Upvote for the nice explanation. And I was also surprised with "х" in "Екатеринбург", it's really unusual for my ear, but I heard such pronunciation from people with Southern Russian dialect and from Ukrainian speaking people. I am from Novosibirsk, btw, here we reduce "г" to "к". – Roman Oct 25 '15 at 19:01
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    @Roman, "Х" or "к": it is a hard one to pin-point, isn't it? (pun intended) – Victor Bazarov Oct 25 '15 at 22:29

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