• Even though the letter щ is many times transliterated as shch or shtch (depending on the transliteration language), is it actually pronounced as [шч], or rather, as an extended [ш], or as a double [шш]?

  • Is letter х equivalent of English h, of French r (like in réponse), or something in-between?

  • Is ы a fusion of the almost deaf "e" in French (crêpe, jolie) and a short [й] sound?

  • Does letter ъ extend the preceding consonant?

  • Does letter ь shorten the preceding consonant?

  • for the record щ is pronounced as [шч] in proper Ukrainian Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 16:09
  • 2
    please, tend to ask one question per task.
    – shabunc
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 21:18

4 Answers 4

  • "Щ" is neither [шч], nor extended [ш] nor double [ш]. It's a soft "ш", similar to "ch" in "Chicago" and to "x" in Portuguese "xicara".
  • "х" is similar to English "h" in "house", "home", "hay" etc.
  • "ы" is a hard case :) Say "ee" (as in "beef") and then try to move your tongue backwards. That sound would be quite close to "ы". Another method: start saying "oo" (as in "book") and the move your lips like you wants to say "ee".
  • no, unlike some languages there's no long and short consonants and vowels in Russian.
  • no.
  • 2
    Although a vulgar example, but if you say "shit" with enough frustration (and stretching the "sh"), it will sound almost exactly like the "щ". I am not aware of any other English word with this property. Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 20:52
  • щ-- youtube.com/…
    – VCH250
    Commented Feb 9, 2018 at 14:58
  • Щ: [шч] is a relic. It lingers in transliteration and some textbooks, but that pronunciation went pretty much extinct towards the end of the 20th century. Modern щ is an extended, palatalised (soft, "sharp") [ш’:]. Meaning it's closer to the English sh than basic [ш] — in fact, it "overshoots" the English sound and ends up even further in the back, and even sharper-sounding.

  • Х: Spanish j as in Juana. German ch as in machen (not as in Milch). Scottish loch if pronounced authentically. More intense than English h, and completely unvoiced. Nothing like the French uvular r.

  • Ы: a single vowel. Transliteration conventions tend to obscure the fact that it's fairly close to the English [i], especially American English and especially after non-plosives, as in sift or lid. Still, it's pronounced noticeably further in the back of the mouth. Turkish undotted ı (balık) is more or less the same sound.

  • Ъ, Ь: I have to disagree with Abakan, Russian doubled consonants are technically "long", but that's not what these letters do. Word-finally, ь palatalises/"softens" the preceding consonant (hence the name "soft sign"); mid-word, both are basically pronounced [j]. The difference is supposed to be that the consonant before ъ isn't supposed to palatalise (hence the name "hard sign"), but a lot of the time, most speakers including myself palatalise it anyway.

  • So is it always best to palatalise the letter before the "ъ"--подъем итп?
    – VCH250
    Commented Feb 9, 2018 at 14:56
  • 1
    @VCH250 Not really, since not palatalising is still the norm. Actually I'm less and less sure of that last bit I said. I may have overgeneralised from words starting with объ-. Подъем certainly sounds more natural with a "hard" д. Come to think of it, in дьявол, it's sometimes unpalatalised despite the soft sign. My overall point was, it's not a terribly big deal to mix them up. Commented Feb 9, 2018 at 18:45
  • I'm guessing that happens in fast speech? Or, out of curiosity, when do you change them up :)
    – VCH250
    Commented Feb 9, 2018 at 21:40

Щ is also quite close to an Italian consonant, as in prosciutto. But a bit harder.


The closest English sound to Щ would be, indeed, [ch] in Chicago. The difference is that [ch] is pronounced by unblocking passage of air that was blocked by tongue and [щ] is a continous sound, similar to [sh] . \

Pronouncion of many words containing Щ can be found online, see, for example Щука on Forvo.com

link: https://forvo.com/word/%D1%89%D1%83%D0%BA%D0%B0/

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