I was reading a reputable textbook (A Comprehensive Russian Grammar) to revisit my fairly shaky knowledge of pronunciation, and the book claimed that:
The vowels а, о, and у are in practice pronounced as [ja], [jo], and [ju] following these consonants [ie ч and щ].
It then gave some examples, eg час (hour), which apparently should be phonetically rendered чяс. I was immediately doubtful and conducted research on Wiktionary and Forvo. Both sites informed me that the pronunciation was indeed час, as I had suspected. (I also tested this with other consonant-vowel combinations and the sites confirmed to me the same result).
I may be missing something here, and I suspect that the textbook is retaining a somewhat obsolete pronunciation that native speakers don't tend to practice, but I don't want to learn an incorrect pronunciation. Is the pronunciation of such vowels after ч and щ indeed iotated (ie with an added 'y' at the start) or is the consonant before simply soft, as I might have expected?
Thanks anyway for any help - much appreciated