Russian Pronunciation With Sound Files Part II

January 22nd, 2010 by markw Leave a reply »

PRONOUNCE RUSSIAN: PART II

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!

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