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"Never write unstressed 'o' after the letters, ж, ч, ш, щ, ц, instead use 'e'"

So are we supposed to still pronounce it like an "o"?

I know that the answer is yes when the vowel is stressed, for example:

нашЁл

but what about when it is unstressed? for example:

хорошЕе

Also, since most people write "е" instead "ё" even when there is supposed to be stress,

how are you supposed to know if the letter "e" is pronounced like an actual "e" or like an "o"?

Why doesn't Russian have an additional letter for soft o, or just write "ио" or "ьо" instead of "е/ё"?

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but what about when it is unstressed? for example: хорошЕе

There's no soft "ш" in modern Russian, so "е" works just like "э" here: "харошэйэ". Some historical or dialect pronounce may differ.

Also, since most people write "е" instead "ё" even when there is supposed to be stress, how are you supposed to know if the letter "e" is pronounced like an actual "e" or like an "o"?

Just remember. No other magic here.

Why doesn't Russian have an additional letter for soft o, or just write "ио" or "ьо" instead of "е/ё"?

Well, some borrowed words are spelled with "ьо", for example "бульон" (bouillon), pronounced the same way as if it were "бульён". Letter ё is usually avoided in borrowed words because in writing it can be confused with e, and the readers unfamiliar with foreign languages may genuinely think they should pronounce e there.

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  • Soft ш is щ. If it is written ш it is hard always. – Anixx May 15 '16 at 7:36
  • @Anixx By soft "ш" I mean a sound like in English "she". There's no counterpart in modern Russian. "Щ" isn't normally considered as soft variant of "ш", it's just another consonant. – Matt May 15 '16 at 9:10
  • I do not know what English "she" is. – Anixx May 15 '16 at 9:26
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    @William You mean "бывшее"? Yes, "шее"-->"шэйэ". Neuter gender participles/adjectives may have two different endings: -ое or -ее. And so they are pronounced differently too. – Matt May 15 '16 at 15:41
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    @William Yes, "будущэйэ". "Щ" is always soft regardless of the next letter. – Matt May 15 '16 at 16:00
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You should notice that 'ё' is always stressed. If it is not stressed it becomes 'е' everywhere, both in writing and pronunciation.

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    Not exactly always: ` — Вниманье! — послышалось дальше, и майор чуть не расхохотался, так непохоже и странно прозвучало из репродуктора это слово. Диктор окал так уморительно, что майор, боясь проронить хоть слово, на цыпочках подошел к простенку, где висел репродуктор.` – bipll May 23 '16 at 18:52
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    @bipll what does this prove? What does prove some invented book hero with "laughable" accent? There is no ё in the word "внимание" in standard Russian (and I suspect, in any real dialect as well). – Anixx May 24 '16 at 4:42
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    Why not? This is traditional pronunciation in Russian North and on shores of Volga. – bipll May 24 '16 at 10:22
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    @bipll do you mean pronouncing Вниманье with [o] is traditional?! – Anixx May 24 '16 at 10:50
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    In some regions. – bipll May 24 '16 at 11:06
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Why doesn't Russian have an additional letter for soft o, or just write "ио" or "ьо" instead of "е/ё"?

I think this is because of historical reasons. "Ё" was suggested in 1783 by non-linguists to denote a situation when old-style pronunciation (and writing rules) required letter "е" to be written in this position, but modern pronunciation shifted to йо/ьо instead. I think a matter of visual similarity to letter О was not considered at those times.

By the way, other letters are also non-paired in modern writing: а/я у/ю э/е.

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