So from what I have learnt so far, нет is pronounced "nyet" and Привет is "privyet". But in телефон it is "telefon", why is е used in this case and not э and why is it not pronounced "tyelyefon"?

I'm really new to learning Russian so simpler answers will be much appreciated :)

  • None of given pronunciations is correct. And what would be the difference between "telefon" and "tyelyefon" in your opinion?
    – Abakan
    Jul 6, 2020 at 21:04
  • How would I pronounce them then? And would there not be more of an emphasis on the y? Jul 6, 2020 at 21:14

1 Answer 1


All of the "pronunciations" you quote are just rough renderings of Russian pronunciation using English spelling and are all about equally wrong. Perhaps you should look at the IPA of those words:

The superscript j indicates the softness of the preceding consonant and is not a separate sound. E.g. these are two distinct words:

  • сел [sʲel] (sat)
  • съел [sjel] (ate)

As to why some e's are pronounced [e] and some [ɪ], those are effects of vowel reduction in unstressed syllables.

  • 2
    What is the superscript j in those words? I've never seen this form before? this is all new to me! Jul 6, 2020 at 21:40
  • @redward01 - What's the textbook you're using to learn Russian?
    – Yellow Sky
    Jul 7, 2020 at 4:33
  • In case you haven't googled it yet (which I strongly suggest you do before asking any question), here's the link: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palatalization_(phonetics) Jul 7, 2020 at 9:30
  • @YellowSky I am currently just using duolingo, im not sure how good it is but its useful. Do you have any books to recommend? Jul 7, 2020 at 10:06

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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