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I tried to learn some Russian some 30 years ago and it's super rusty now but I'm trying to help my son who's taking it at school and is getting a bit discouraged by how daunting it is.

While revising some declensions, I've been wondering whether книги and книге are pronounced in the same way in everyday spoken Russian. I have the same question about доброе and добрая.

  • Kниги and книге are pronounced differently, actually just the way they're written, доброе and добрая are pronounced the same way, as [ˈdobrəjə]. It is possible to differentiate them by pronouncing the last sound distinctly, as [e] and [a] (or [ɐ]) respectively, but don't pronounce the unstressed O as [o], it will sound weird, foreign or dialectal. – Yellow Sky Sep 29 at 23:48
  • And there is an online tool that produced IPA transcription of Russian word or even a text. – Yellow Sky Sep 30 at 1:11
  • @YellowSky Thank you for your answer. The link you provide gives the same IPA transcription for книге and книги though, which is at odds with your first comment. – petitrien Sep 30 at 13:54
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    Well, personally I would agree that in "fast every day" speech книге and книги sounds indistinguishable. It does not however cause any ambiguity since the expected declension (s vs. p and the case) is clearly obtained from surrounding words (The only ambiguous example I can come up with would be something like "Оставь его книге/книги" - but it's way too artificial). – seven-phases-max Sep 30 at 14:28
  • @seven-phases-max True. Apart from the context one would very rarely meet книге without a preposition. So this will typically be в книге (fknige), о книге (aknige), while книги is more often used in Nom. and Gen., i.e. without a preposition... – tum_ Sep 30 at 20:22
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It's all about vowel pronounced sometimes very short thus making sound "книги" and "книге" very similar. However when it pronounced slowly and/or clearly they are distinguishable to a native speaker. The same happens with е and я in "доброе"/"добрая".

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    Thank you for the answer. I take from your comment that when reciting, for example, a declension table "книге" and "книги" as well as "доброе" and "добрая" are sounded differently to clearly mark the difference in spelling, but that outside of artificial and self-conscious uses of speech, the two pairs are perfect homophones. – petitrien Oct 1 at 15:01
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While I agree that when книге/книги pronounced slowly and/or clearly they are distinguishable I would argue that доброе/добрая have differences in pronunciation

  • "I would argue" - based on what evidence? I can assure you that (if pronounced slowly and/or clearly) they also sound differently. – tum_ Oct 3 at 20:01
  • I don't need any evidence. This is my language and my opinion. How often do you pronounce words and sentences slowly? I doubt one could distinguish those words without context in everyday Russian – George K Oct 4 at 7:17
  • Well, we'll have to agree to disagree, then. This is my language too and my opinion is different from yours. What does the context have to do with this? I'm talking specifically about clear and slow pronunciation, not about everyday casual talks. – tum_ Oct 4 at 8:15

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