Archive for January, 2010

Russian Pronunciation With Sound Files Part II

January 22nd, 2010


This is a continuation of an article I wrote on Russian Pronunciation. (If you haven’t read the first article, RUSSIAN PRONUNCIATION, do so now, and then come back to this.) In this follow-up, I want to improve how you pronounce Russian letters by having YOU write out various English words using the Cyrillic alphabet. This is a very effective technique, with the added benefit that it makes you feel like a spy writing in secret code.

Don’t worry about perfect handwriting. Just do your best on the few tricky letters. As with the other article, the answers will be at the end. Remember, I want it so that when someone sounds out the Russian letters, they HEAR the sound of the English words. Does that make sense?

So, let’s start by writing out some group names.
1. U2
2. AC/DC
3. Led Zeppelin
4. Metallica
5. Deep Purple

How would you write out these words:
6. Couch
7. Table
8. Shorts
9. Frog
10. Yodel

Remember, it’s hard to line up sounds exactly between the two languages, especially when it comes to vowels. The “ih” sound in words like “big” and “ship” doesn’t exist in Russian, and they usually write it with their letter И (which sounds like “ee”). This explains why Russians pronounce these words as “A beeg sheep came into harbor.” In any case, there is often more than one way to sound out these words. The “uh” sound of “hug” is also missing from Russian, as are many other vowel sounds. Plus, they have nothing even close to our “th” sound, so that usually gets glossed over with a Z. As in, “Zees eez zee best pizza!”

Moving on, let’s try writing out names. There might be “official” Russian ways to spell these names, and my answers might conflict with those. I’m simply going to write the names out as accurately as I can with the Cyrillic letters, despite any differences there might be with the official versions.

11. Joan Rivers
12. Charlie Chaplin
13. Steven Spielberg
14. Bill Gates
15. Zha-zha Gabor

Finally, let’s try to write out a whole sentence:

My name is Steve. I live in Phoenix. I have a house and two cars. My favorite movie is Star Wars, and my favorite food is spaghetti.
Ok, I hope you had fun with that. Here’s the answers:

1. U2 = ю ту
2. AC/DC = эй си ди си
3. Led Zeppelin = Лэд Зэпэлин
4. Metallica = Мэталика
5. Deep Purple = Жип Пэрпл (That’s a tough call on the ‘ur’ sound of Purple!)

How would you write out these words:

6. Couch = Кауч
7. Table = Тэйбл
8. Shorts = Шортс
9. Frog = Фраг
10. Yodel = Ёдл
11. Joan Rivers = Джон Ривэрз
12. Charlie Chaplin = Чарли Чаплин
13. Steven Spielberg = Стивэн Спилбэрг
14. Bill Gates = Бил Гэйтс
15. Zha-zha Gabor = Жа Жа Габор

Finally, let’s try to write out a whole sentence:

My name is Steve. I live in Phoenix. I have a house and two cars. My favorite movie is Star Wars, and my favorite food is spaghetti.
Май нэйм ис Стив. Ай лив ин Финэкс. Ай хав эй хаус анд ту карс. Май фэйворит муви ис Стар Уарз, анд май фэйворит фуд ис спагэти.

So remember, a few minutes each day to practice writing and sounding out English words using Cyrillic will do wonders for your Russian pronunciation!

Good luck!

Russian Pronunciation With Sound Files Part 1

January 12th, 2010


Compared to some languages, Russian pronunciation is a breeze.  Sure, if your goal is to master pronunciation to the point where you can pass yourself off as a native speaker, then – true – you’ve got a lot of work ahead. But if you don’t mind speaking with an accent – as I have for six years, now – and instead just want to speak well enough so that Russian people understand you, then Russian pronunciation is no big deal.

If you prefer video instruction, then watch this video on how to pronounce each letter in Russian’s Cyrillic alphabet. Otherwise, read on, as we go through each letter and you`ll eventually learn Russian step by step.

As I often do, I want to employ contextual learning to imbed the sounds on a deeper level. The great thing about this method is it’s easy, natual, and the most effective.

All BIG BOLD CAPITAL LETTERS are Russian letters. The first round is easy because they look the same and sound the same as their English counterparts.



Оpen wide, said the doctor, and say…

Аhhh .


So, the English word TAKOMA would be spelled: TAKOMA in Russian, as well.

Let’s note right here that the Russian versions of these letters have few if any variations in pronunciation. The same absolutely CANNOT be said of the English versions. How many sounds can you make with the English ‘O’ for example? Women? So and ‘o’ in English can be pronounced ‘ihh’? There’s only two variations in Russian for an ‘O’. Either the ‘Oh’ sound of ‘Open” or an ‘Ah’ sound, as in “Say ahh.”

Here’s the next batch for learning Russian

БaseБall is perhaps the most popular sport in America.

Сeptember is my birth month, but…

Нovember is my favorite month.

Лaugh out Лoud!

Пretty Пlease, with sugar on top?

Рonald Peagan was the 40th President of the United States.

Вampires are scary!

Фotoshop is a great program.

Let’s play with these a bit before going on. The following will be English words sound out using the Russian alphabet. The answers are at the end:








How’d you do? Ok, let’s the next set…

Дavid and Гoliath

Гarden of Eden.

Хa Xa, very funny.

The MiraЖ in Las Vegas is my favorite hotel.

Зippidee do dah!

Шotgun wedding.

Чinese Фood is delicious!

Яtzee is a game played with dice.

Уps, I Did It Again is Brittney’s best song!

Еsterday is the Beatle’s best song!

We’re almost done. One more round after this. Let’s play with our new letters. The answers, again, will be at the bottom:








Here’s the final batch of Russian letters for you:

Ё dude, whassup! Or: My favorite toy is a Ё Ё .

Иk, a mouse! Or: Иster egg!

OЙ vei, what a headache! Or: G.I. Joe is my favorite toЙ.

Эpcot Center is better than Disney World.

Ю2 is a great group, but I’m not a big fan of Bono.

WhaЦ up, dude?

Ыk, another mouse!


Let’s play with these newest ones, and then get to the answers:




Ok, here’s the answers to all the words I wrote out:

СНО = Snow

БОН = Bone

ФАР = Far

БАР = Bar

ПРО = Pro

ЛАМП = Lamp

МАРС = Mars

ГАД = God

ЕС ОР НО? = Yes or no?

ЧУ СЛО = Chew slow.

ГАРАЖ = Garage

ФЛАШ = Flash.

ЯДА ЯДА = Yada yada.

ХОТ ДОГ = Hot dog.

ЭГ ЁЛК. = Egg yolk.

ЭКСКЮЗ МИ! = Excuse me!

ТОЙ СТОРИ. = Toy Story.


Finally, here’s a few sentences written in English, but using Cyrillic letters to spell out the words. Think of it as a final exam. Give it a try:

Хай! Май нэйм ис Марк. Ай рили лайк стадиинг рашен. Рашен ис сач эй кул лангуэдж, донт ю агри? Уэл, ай хоп зис артикл хэлпд ю!

I hope you learn`t a bit about learning Russian online with  pronunciation!

Go here for part 2 Pronounce Russian