Why is мужчи́на pronounced /mʊɕːˈinə/ instead of /mʊʂtɕˈinə/ ? I am already considering that ж is pronounced ш because it is voiced and it is followed by an unvoiced consonant (ч), also known as consonant assimilation.

Is there a pronunciation rule which says that жч is pronounced щ or is it an exception?

  • 2
    That's a question incorrectly put. Pronunciation comes first, spelling is secondary. Russian spelling is, of course, much more "logical" than English but it does not have to be "spot on". The "why" question is always a tough one with languages. The answer is usually - because that's the way it is.
    – tum_
    Sep 14, 2019 at 13:51
  • It seems to me that "When ж and ч come together, it sounds like ш" is the real answer here. I didn't know that pronunciation rule. Can anyone point an online list of all Russian pronunciation rules? Sep 14, 2019 at 14:19
  • 1
    It's not a rule. It's anatomy. Say it fast a few times, you'll hear it. (If you say it slow, you might be tempted to put a deliberate pause to separate ж and ч. If you talk fast, the way people normally would, this unnatural pause would go away.) Sep 15, 2019 at 20:38
  • @Galastel That does not make much sense to me. If that consonant pair is so hard to pronounce and it is "natural" to pronounce it as ш, wouldn't be simpler to write ш instead of жч and to avoid all this confusion? Unfortunately, languages are arbitrary. Sep 16, 2019 at 2:32
  • You can't just write ш. The root of the word is муж, so that's not going anywhere. Sep 16, 2019 at 8:21

3 Answers 3


Буква Щ и сочетания согласных шч, жч, сч, зч, стч, здч обозначают один и тот же звук [щ’]. Такая множественность обозначения звука создает трудности при написании слов.

Для правильного написания непроизносимых согласных необходимо анализировать состав слова: буква щ пишется, если щ является частью или корня, или приставки, а сочетания согласных — на стыке приставки и корня или корня и суффикса.


буква ч входит в состав суффиксов, которые начинаются с ч (-чик-, -чат-, -чин-, -чив-), а буквосочетания ж, з, зд, c, ст, ш относятся к корню: брус-чатый (брус), звёзд-чатый (звезда), перебеж-чик (перебежать), перевоз-чик (перевозить) , разнос-чик (разносить) , объезд-чик (объезжать), привяЗ-Чивый (привязать), мужчина (муж), извозчик, рассказчик, подписчик;


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  • @shabunc thanks for the edit! Sep 18, 2019 at 14:47

It is a matter of rate (as in speed, velocity, pace) of pronouncing those letters. When you pronounce them in a rapid succession, жч becomes щ purely due to the function of the vocal organs: tongue, lips, throat.

  • I don't understand how the two sibilant consonant sounds of ш (remember that the voiced consonant ж becomes ш before an unvoiced consonant such as ч) and ч can naturally merge if there is the stop sound T in the beginning of ч. I get lost when I don't hear it in мужчина. Sep 17, 2019 at 18:08
  • Is /mʊʂtɕˈinə/ (no consonant merge) a wrong pronunciation? Sep 17, 2019 at 18:08

If you look at женщина, try to break the word down, and consider that back when /щ/ was pronounced [ɕtɕ], the letter щ and the combination шч (ergo also жч due to assimilation) would've been different ways to spell the exact same thing, you'll realise something cool: it's only spelt мужчина because the more etymologically correct *мужщина would've been a bit of an eyesore.

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