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Unit 3

Table of contents:

  1. Word stress in Russian
  2. Reading rules of the unstressed vowels Оо and Ээ
  3. "Theory and practice"
  4. Practice

1. Word stress in Russian

In Russian, the word stress is free, i.e. it can fall on any syllable. Compare:

ра́дуга — rainbow

парко́вка — parking

карнава́л — carnival

The meaning of a word depends on the stress. If you don’t put the stress correctly, your listener may not or not exactly understand you. Therefore, when learning new words, pay attention to their stress.






Being stressed the vowels have the maximal intensity, i.e. the pronunciation of the sound is extended and clear. In an unstressed position it is, as if all vowels would lose their intensity, i.e. the pronunciation is shorter and weak. Compare:

However, differently from generally putting the right stress, it won’t have any impact on the meaning of a word, it you pronounce unstressed vowels with too much intensity.

The knowledge of this phonetic phenomenon is rather necessary for listening comprehension, i.e. to help you understand a native speaker better.


2. Reading rules of the unstressed vowels Оо and Ээ

All vowels in an unstressed position are pronounced shortly and weakly (reduction of vowels). However, in two cases But the absence of stress has a special influence on the pronunciation. These are the vowels Оо and Ээ.

The unstressed Оо

While in a stressed position the letter Оо is read as [о], in an unstressed position Оо is read as a weak [а]. Compare:

он [о́н] — he
дом [до́м] — house
спорт [спо́рт] — sport
слон [сло́н] — elephant
сон [со́н] — dream
хор [хо́р] — choir
порт [по́рт] — port
флот [фло́т] — fleet


As many vowels – as many syllables! According to this, words with one syllable don’t cause difficulties.

оно́ [ано́] — it
окно́ [акно́] — window
ковбо́й [кавбо́й] — cowboy
молоко́ [малако́] — milk
вопро́с [вапро́с] — question
го́род [го́рад] — city
сло́во [сло́ва] — word
пого́да [паго́да] — weather

она́ [ана́] — she
ры́нок [ры́нак] — market
у́тро [у́тра] — morning
вода́ [вада́] — water
попуга́й [папуга́й] — parrot
война́ [вайна́] — war
соба́ка [саба́ка] — dog
вокза́л [вакза́л] — railway station

The unstressed Ээ

The unstressed letter Ээ is read like a weak [и] or something between [и] and [э] and sometimes like a very weak [э]. This depends on the speaker’s speech rate and his individual pronunciation characteristics. Let’s denote this indistinct sound by э]. According to that

a stressed Э is pronounced like [э]

дуэ́т [дуэ́т] — duo
мэ́р [мэ́р] — mayor
э́кспорт [э́кспарт] — export

an unstressed Э is pronounced like [иэ]

эта́п [иэта́п] — stage
этало́н [иэтало́н] — standard
экра́н [иэкра́н] — screen


3. "Theory and practice"

What should you remember from this unit?

It is very important to pay attention to the right word stress, as otherwise, your listener may not understand you correctly.

But concerning the rules of reading the unstressed vowels, it is necessary to know them in theory, but it won’t be so bad, if you don’t keep them strictly, especially in the first stages of language acquisition. It is not so important, if you read the word ВОДА[вода́] or [вада́]. It is one word in Russian.

By practising and correctly forming the articulation, the proper pronunciation of the unstressed vowels will come by itself.


 Practice

Exercise 1:

~ 25 min

Exercise 2.  Find the stressed letter.

~ 25 min