Is it correct to say that all Russian consonants are subject to secondary articulation: the soft ones are palatalized, whereas the hard ones are velarized?

  • What do you mean by velarized? Soft х is voiceless velar fricative (just like the hard х).
    – Anixx
    Mar 11, 2020 at 5:08

1 Answer 1


Most but not all:

  • й, ч and щ are always soft
  • ж, ш and ц are always hard.
  • Do you mean that these do not have phonetically possible hard/soft counterparts? Mar 9, 2020 at 15:47
  • No, that's not what I mean. Phonetically they can have hard/soft pairs. E.g. in Ukrainian ц is always soft: Східниця. In fact, ш/щ are one such pair within Russian. But they just don't follow the same rules of positional softening as the rest of the consonants. E.g. рука - руке (к is softened) but ноша - ноше (ш does not become щ). So they are a pair phonetically but not morphophonologically. If you know what I mean. :) Mar 9, 2020 at 21:17
  • With the exception of й which is pure softness itself. I can't imagine what its hard counterpart would sound like. Mar 9, 2020 at 21:48
  • As far as I understand, й is a semivowel, so it is rather different from other consonants. What surprised me is the claim that all the consonants in Russian experience secondary articulation, as opposed to normal consonants in English(?). I am wondering how much of this view owes to English-speakers dominating linguistics in the last half of the century. Mar 10, 2020 at 8:59
  • @SergeySlepov the hard counterpart of й is Ukrainian/South Russian fricative г or voiced х. Compare её/его, сей/сего (его and сего formerly were pronounced with fricative г)
    – Anixx
    Mar 11, 2020 at 4:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.