The reference material I have been reading is somewhat confusing. Some sources say that Й is equivalent to J, while others say it is equivalent to Y. Which is it? For example, is it pronounced J as in Jar, Y as in Yes, or something else?

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    An example to remember: New York = Нью-Йорк. (A more accurate transliteration might be Ну-Йорк, but that's not how it goes.) – KCd Nov 29 '12 at 1:46
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    ctype.h, we have all tags available in English too. – texnic Nov 29 '12 at 8:21
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    @shabunc why do you say we don't have a sound for dʒ? This is not a single sound, as this very phonetic transcription indicates, but two, and exactly in Russian we have letters for both of them: д & ж. Admittedly our д is not exactly as in English, but in this case very close. – texnic Nov 29 '12 at 8:27
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    @ctype.h Type your tag in English. The system will replace them automatically. :) – Alenanno Nov 29 '12 at 11:16
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    @KCd "j" in English is like voiced "ч". – Anixx Nov 30 '12 at 0:27

Й is always pronounced like Y in "Yes". The reason it is often tansliterated as J is that in many languages (German, Polish) J is also pronounced like Y in "Yes".

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    as far as I know, in all Slavic languages with latin-based alphabet, J stands for Й. – shabunc Nov 29 '12 at 5:38
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    That is difference of alphabets not of the pronunciation. Й is a sound similar to y in "yes" or in "bay" - with the differences given below. The situation is displayed correctly. – Viridianus Feb 15 '14 at 19:23

As a letter "Й" is used to make sound like Y in Yes, but its accurate to say that combination "Ye" from Yes sounds like russian "E". There are several russian letters that sounds like "Й" + another letter, for example E = Й + Э, Ю = Й + У, Ё = Й + О. Thus, the main purpose of "Й" is the formation of new letters. :) Sorry for english


Y in "Yes" is pronounced in a much more light way than the Russian Й, the distance between the tongue and the palate in English is wider.
Try to say it as Y in Yes, but the air should pass between the tongue and palate with much more strength. The hole between tongue and palate should be as narrow as it possible and also longer.

As for J as in jar, it has nothing in common with Й or any other Russian sound.

  • You sort of implied the answer, but didn't answer the question directly. How would you describe the sound for й to a native English speaker? – Aleks G Dec 4 '12 at 12:20
  • Say it as Y in Yes, but the air should pass between the tongue and palate with much more strength. The hole between tongue and palate should be as narrow as it possible and also longer. – Gangnus Dec 4 '12 at 12:24

Letter "й" is pronounced as sound /j/.

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    Welcome to Russian Language and Usage Beta! While probably being legit, your answer does not seem to add to the answers given by the other users. If you want to support one of the answers given earlier, please up-vote it rather then repost. – Quassnoi Dec 4 '12 at 21:02
  • This is probably more confusing than helpful. It is accurate that the IPA symbol j is used to represent sounds like the Russian й or the English y in "yes", but you should perhaps spell this out. To a visitor who is not familiar with IPA, it would look like you are contradicting the other answers here. – tripleee Apr 13 '19 at 7:23

Й doesn't really have an independent pronunciation--other than a few foreign loan words, it only occurs after vowels and changes the vowel pronunciation. It's sometimes transliterated as J, but it's definitely not like J in Jar--more like a German J, which is like an English Y. So it's better to think of it like Y in Yes.

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    Й has as much independent pronunciation as any other consonant. – Dima Nov 29 '12 at 1:06
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    Sorry, I stuck an extra word in there the first time: Can you give me an example of a Russian word that is not a loan word (like йогурт) where й occurs anywhere other than after a vowel? – Jonathan Christensen Dec 4 '12 at 3:11
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    @Jonathan Christensen ''й'' does not anyhow significantly change the vowel's pronunciation. It is pronounced as an independent separate consonant. For example, in word "бой" "о" is pronounced the same way as in "бог", "бор", "бот". – Anixx Dec 5 '12 at 17:03
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    @Jonathan Christensen, no questions remains, why your answer was downvoted? – Anixx Dec 6 '12 at 0:24
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    It should be down-voted because it does have an independent pronunciation REGARDLESS of its limits of positioning. It does occur only after vowels in Russian words, but it is definitely a specific distinctive sound, not a letter that is only to show changing of the vowel before. So, maybe you meant that, but the words you used made people think that you do not believe it to have its own pronunciation. – Viridianus Feb 15 '14 at 19:29

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