Why does the word "четверг" sound as "четвергх"? I've noticed that people don't pronounce it as it's written, do they? If they don't, what is the reason for that?

n.b. We already had here a post about the sounds of the Russian letter г which sometimes sounds like в (see there), but in this case the letter г sounds like х.


7 Answers 7


Well, while V.V is not wrong about voicelessness, there's actually something else out there. What you seem to hear is actually an evidence of so called "явления придыхательности глухих согласных" (aspiration of voiceless consonant). It's not х it's more close to the phonetic [h] (like in English hen). In some cases (usually before other voiceless consonant) in casual speech there consonant can gain some level of aspiration.

For instance, pronounce following words and take attention to how they sound (the potentially aspirated vowel is marked):

  • мопс
  • Бетховен
  • кекс
  • абсент
  • торг
  • морг

As of why it's not indicated somehow in spelling - well, there's not such thing like 100% precise, one-to-one correspondence between phonetics and orthography. One reason for that - some of phonemes a very specific, some a relatively rare, some a very subtle (I doubt majority of Russian speakers even realize they are aspirating anything).

Also, if you'll try nevertheless to come up with "precise" orthography you'll fail for both because words are not pronounced the same very way by all the speakers, second, pronunciation changes with time.

If you are interested to find out more, check out, for instance, this article.


Consonants in Russian (and in all other languages) are either voiced or voiceless.

The consonants in each pair below are pronounced in exactly the same manner, the only difference being in the presence or absence of vibration in the vocal cords:

Voiced Voiceless

в ф

г к

з с

б п

д т

ж ш

In Russian pronunciation, all voiced consonants at the end of the word are pronounced like their voiceless counterparts. This phenomenon is also called devoicing of consonants. Devoicing also occurs when a voiced consonant is in front of a voiceless consonant(consonant assimilation). The voiced consonant in this position will be pronounced like its voiceless counterpart.

Четверг [четверк]. If you hear х instead of к, it's regional pronunciation.

  • The devoicing of consonants at the end of the words can hardly be considered assimilation, because there's nothing those consonants assimilate to.
    – Yellow Sky
    Jun 7, 2017 at 17:34
  • @YellowSky: assimilation to the voicelessness of pausa perhaps?
    – sumelic
    Jun 16, 2017 at 1:18
  • @sumelic - The pause hardly has any phonetic properties that other sounds can assimilate to. I'd rather speak of synharmonism aka Russian sounds reduction aimed at marking the word boundaries than about assimilation.
    – Yellow Sky
    Jun 16, 2017 at 5:13

Would you describe it as [-rx] or as [-rkʰ]? If it's the first, it's not just a четверг thing, but a Southern pronunciation feature where the final /г/ is pronounced [x] instead of simply devoicing to [k]. (Бог is the only example common to all Russian accents.)

If it's the second, it's just the final [-k] becoming more breathy in that particular word-final cluster. [k] and what can sound like a mild [kʰ] are pretty much freely varied in Russian; I don't think the latter even qualifies as an allophone.


Interesting, never noticed that properly. What is heard, however, doesn't resemble the regular [x].

I suppose the reasons are the same as with Б-г pronounced as [бох]: historical phonetics, competive norms (fricative 'Southern' [g] VS modern 'standard' [g].

Not sure if it works with порог, пирог and, say, рог in standard (not 'Southern') pronunciation as well.

  • An addition: consider the Russian proverb Старый друг лучше новых двух. It is rhymed and друг is supposed to rhyme with двух. It demonstrates the typical Southern Russian pronunciation in which <Г> at the end of words gets devoiced into [x] and not into the expected [k]. That means that the <Г> in друг also gets devoiced into [x], which, in its turn, means that the proverb was coined in the area where non-final <Г>'s are prononced as [ɣ], that is as a velar spirant, not a velar plosive [g]. And yes, it's [ɣ] which is the correct IPA symbol for the Southern Russian non-final <Г>.
    – Yellow Sky
    Jun 7, 2017 at 17:47
  • ...or that the proverb was coined at times when the articulation of as Г г as [g] or [ɣ] was not standartised (cf Masc. Gen. Sg. endings in Polish, where -wego is pronounced with velar plosive [g].
    – Manjusri
    Jun 7, 2017 at 18:48

Nope, it's pronounced четверк or читверк. Четвер(г)х is either суржик (Ukrainian-sounding dialect) or used by old Soviet nomenklatura-style people because it sounds more "fundamental".


It could be old-moscow pronunciation - "четверьх", "булошная" (булочная), "яблошный" (яблочный).


When native ukrainians speak russian, they usually pronounce Г as Гх. There is two close letters in ukrainian alphabet: Г IPA for which is /ɦ/, and Ґ, IPA for is /g/. So russians have manner to imitate that accent from time to time, when its not immitated , Г sounds more like К, as V.V. stated. The difference here from the post that you linked, is that in official speech you should spell г in words Сегодня, Ничего as в, just as ч as ш in что, but in official speech, you should very clearly pronounce г at the end of ther words четверг, морг, and so on

  • 1
    Thank you 1+. Then this pronunciation is limited to Ukraine only? and if I pronounce "четверг" with г is not considered as a mistake. Right?
    – Influx
    Jun 7, 2017 at 12:39
  • 1
    @Influx yes, it is actually correct to pronounce it with strong г on the end, but nobody pays attention to that in everyday speech. This pronouncation is not limited to Ukraine, but everywhere else it is used mostly to make fun of ukrainian language, which is not very polite an may be taken as an offense Jun 7, 2017 at 13:14

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