28 votes

Why is the letter "г" in some of the Russian words pronounced differently as it should be?

The Russian orthography is based on morphological-historical principles, which means it tries to write down morphemes the same way all the time and keep the historical spellings of the morphemes (the ...
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23 votes
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Why is there a "ц" in "Сан-Франциско"?

As you can notice nobody calls in Russian Francesco d'Assisi Франческо д'Ассизи - and I'm not saying this in ironical way. For instance, Leonardo da Vinci is indeed called Леонардо да Винчи. The thing ...
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  • 37.4k
20 votes

Why do Russians sometimes spell "жирный" (fatty) as "жырный"?

As you can see from your own question, Russians indeed do spell жирный as жырный sometimes. It’s just that people sometimes tend to ignore strict orthography rules for convenience or fun — especially ...
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19 votes
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Voiceless consonants at the end of words

This is the picture every Russian learns in 1st grade (7 years old) Each consonant from the top row is pronunced unvoiced (substituted by letter from bottom row), if it's located at the end of closed ...
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18 votes
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Why do Russians sometimes spell "жирный" (fatty) as "жырный"?

To place emphasis on this word These patterns are called "Sensational spelling" and "Cacography". It is not a unique Russian language trait: Cacography is deliberate comic ...
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  • 602
16 votes

How to properly pronounce Lur'e for a English speaker

The same way you pronounce "Fourier". The both are French surnames.
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16 votes
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Pronunciation of "отпуска"

Óтпуска is the Genitive case singular of óтпуск: У меня давно не было óтпуска. – I haven't got a vacation for a long time. Отпускá is the Nominative and Accusative case plural of óтпуск: ...
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14 votes
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Why do some people pronounce "о" as "a" and some just pronounce "o" as "o"?

This is a phenomenon called vowel reduction. A good starting point would be the Wikipedia article on Russian phonology: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_phonology#Vowel_mergers In a nutshell, ...
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  • 47.6k
13 votes
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Multiple pronunciation of "до"

The two-degree vowel reduction model ignores word boundaries for prepositions. In до ско́рого, the preposition is treated as a pre-emphatic syllable, and so becomes [dɐ]; in до свида́ния, it's a plain ...
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13 votes
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Pronunciation of конечно

A Comprehensive Russian Grammar by T. Wade gives a rule for the pronunciation of -чн- The pronunciation of -чн- (1) -чн- is pronounced [ʃn] in certain words (конéчно [kʌˈnɛʃnə] ‘of course’, ...
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  • 402
13 votes
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History of /f/ sound in Russian

The letter ф is found almost exclusively in loanwords. The only exceptions are sparse native Russian words like дрофа, филин and onomatopoeic words like фу, фыркать etc. The sound [f], though, can be ...
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  • 47.6k
12 votes

When is the letter 'O' pronounced as 'A'?

This is probably the most famous phenomenon of Standard Russian, it's called "аканье" (akanye, 'ah-ing') and it's a case of vowel reduction. Tons of materials are avaliable on the issue, Wikipedia has ...
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12 votes
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Why are there letters which look similar but are pronounced differently between the English alphabet and Russian Cyrillic?

Cyrillic alphabet was developed in what is modern Bulgaria based on Greek alphabet, so: В was modeled after Greek Β (beta). This was originally pronounced [b] in ancient Greek but in modern (and ...
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12 votes
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Почему "Венера", а не 'Венус"?

Imparisyllabic Latin words (meaning words having an extra syllable in genitive compared to nominative) are usually cited in their genitive form, as it's usually a more accurate representation of the ...
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12 votes
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Russian pronunciation of /etc (a directory)

People who tend to use 'Latin' pronunciation in abbreviations (and it is a very common practice) would say "ye te tse". Just like they say "ye dva ye chetyre" (E2-E4) to describe one of the favorite ...
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  • 494
12 votes
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Pronunciation of "солнце"

The only words in Russian ending by олнц are derivatives from "солнце". In all the rest of the words with олн + vowel л is alway pronounced. I'm aware only of two words with олн + consonant, that are: ...
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  • 37.4k
12 votes

Why do Russians sometimes spell "жирный" (fatty) as "жырный"?

(In addition to shabunc's answer.) Aside of just fun, жырный is used mostly when they want to stress that it's not just "some bold X" but an extremely huge and/or explicit X. E.g.: Жырный минус ...
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11 votes
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Pronunciation of "лёгкий" and "легкий"

Letter ё is optional, it is usually replaced by е. We have a number of questions about this letter on this site, for example: Using written е instead of ë, Is 'ё' a distinct letter, or is ...
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  • 11.3k
11 votes

Почему Париж пишется через "ж"?

Слово Париж пришло в современный русский через польский, в котором оно звучит (ну, практически) так же - Paryż. Гипотеза @user31264 не выдерживает критики и проходит по разряду любительской ...
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  • 37.4k
11 votes

Pronunciation of "лошадь"

"Oh-vo-shet" is certainly curious, but I think I can see how it happened, and, in fact, you've stumbled upon a curious little feature of Russian pronunciation that even most native speakers aren't ...
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11 votes
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"Критический": How should it be prounounced?

I love questions like these, they uncover small quirks that even most native speakers aren't aware of. The stress is on the second syllable, and sounds like it. There's more at play at Forvo and ...
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11 votes

Pronunciation of "a"

Yes, the rule exists and dictates that any vowel except for [у] that follows a soft consonant in an unstressed position is reduced to something between [э] and [и]: часы́ [чисы] яйцо́ [йийцо] ле́чо [...
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11 votes
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Does the letter г ever have a soft "J" sound?

It is hard, like in Gary. Hear for example the pronounce of га (https://ru.wiktionary.org/wiki/га#Произношение). It is the voiced counterpart of к. In Russian there is no sound similar to G in ...
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  • 8,397
11 votes
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How prevalent is the sound /ʑ:/ in Russian?

When a native speaker speaks they never think of actual phonemes. Nobody is thinking like: "hey, I'm pronouncing "ɯ" in 10% of cases when it's actually spelled as "o". To answer your question - it's ...
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  • 37.4k
10 votes
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Declension of "ДНК"

This very initialism is invariable. However, there are some acronyms like ЗАГС, БОМЖ, ТЭН etc. which do decline as any other noun would, and in fact many Russian speakers are unaware those are ...
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  • 47.6k
10 votes
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Words ending with 'ы'

Well, it's easy to check. So, you are saying that ы sound like э so why not just substitute and repeat two-three times, loud and clear and slowly: газетэ and журналэ. Does it sound right to you - ...
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  • 37.4k
10 votes
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«Да святится имя Твое» or «Да святится имя Твоё»?

The liturgical language of Russian Orthodox Church is not Russian but Church Slavonic. Church Slavonic is a codified version of Old Church Slavonic, which technically is not even a direct ancestor of ...
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  • 37.4k
10 votes
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Pronunciation of "часа"

What is the right way to stress the word часа? The "right" one is ча́са, however, the most frequently used combinations, such as, two hours, three hours, four hours and a quarter of an hour all ...
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  • 15.2k
10 votes
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Does preposition "c" change pronunciation of following to unvoiced?

In general, following consonants affect preceding ones. So “с дивана” is [з], “сделал” is also [з], “отдохну́л” is [адахнул] etc. This is unlike other Slavic languages like Czech where it can be the ...
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10 votes
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Two different pronunciation of "понял"

Поня́л is a stress pattern pertaining to speech of grammarless native speakers, very low register. Sometimes it can be used jokingly, with tongue in cheek, in informal conversations as a curt ...
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