Russian For Everyone Learn Russian Language Online

Self study guide for elementary level learners of Russian
and for intermediate level students who wish to review basic grammar and vocabulary




Introductory Lesson 9

Voiced and Voiceless Consonants. Devoicing of Final Consonants. Consonant Clusters




Introduction. Russian letters and sound system
Russian alphabet
Sounds, handwriting, keyboard
Introductory Lesson 1
Reading syllables. Translating This is..., Here is...
Introductory Lesson 2
Reading syllables. Conjunctions and
Introductory Lesson 3
Learn Russian hushing and velar sounds. Stress and vowel reduction (, )
Quiz 1
Check what you have learned from Lessons 1-3 with this 10 minute quiz.
Introductory Lesson 4
Letters ,,,
Introductory Lesson 5
Learn Russian 7-letter spelling rule
Introductory Lesson 6
Learn Russian Hard and Soft onsonants. Vowel reduction (, )
Quiz 2
Check what you have learned from Lessons 4-6 with this 15 minute quiz.
Introductory Lesson 7
Letters and . Pronunciation of , , , . Letters , ,
Introductory Lesson 8
Unpaired hard and soft consonants. The soft consonant
Quiz 3
Check what you have learned from Lessons 7-8 with this 15 minute quiz.
Introductory Lesson 9
Voiced and Voiceless Consonants. Devoicing of Final Consonants. Consonant Clusters
Introductory Lesson 10
Pronunciation of , , and
Phrasebook Topic 1
Learn how to greet people and say goodbye in Russian
Phrasebook Topic 2
Introducing Yourself in Russian
Quiz 4
Check what you have learned from Lessons 7-8 with this 10 minute quiz.

                                            Lesson 9 - 9

 
9.1. Voiced and Voiceless Consonants
In Russian as well as in English, some consonant sounds are produced with the vibration of the vocal cords. Touch your neck in the area of the throat while making a sound 'z-z-z-z-z-z-z...' and you'll feel your vocal cords vibrating. If you do the same thing while producing a sound 's-s-s-s-s-s-s...', you'll feel that your vocal cords are not vibrating.

We say that the 'z' sound is a voiced consonant, while it's counterpart 's' sound is a voiceless consonant. There are 11 pairs of voiced and voiceless consonant sounds in Russian.
Compare the sets of consonant sounds. Read them aloud. Refer to the Alphabet page if you forgot how to pronounce some letters. Remember the difference between hard and soft sounds.

 !

 Voiced

' ' ' '

 Voiceless

' ' ' ' '
 

 

 

 

 

Click each pair of words to listen, then read the words aloud. Note the difference between voiced and voiceless consonant in each pair and the similarity in articulation of each pair while you pronouncing the words.

Voiced

Voiceless

 -

butterfly - daddy

 

 

-

to beat - to drink

  '

  '

-

vase - phase

 

 

-

veins - (hair-)driers

  '

  '

-

guests - bones

 

 

-

wizards - poppies

  '

  '

-

daughter - dot

 

 

-

deed, work - body

  '

  '

-

she-goat  - plait

   

 

-

store - orange

  '

  '

-

to live - to sew

 

 

Except for voicing, each pair of these consonant sounds has essentially identical articulation.

 

9.2. Devoicing of Final Consonants

Devoicing of a consonant means pronouncing a voiced consonant like it's voiceless counterpart (i.e. spell but say [], spell but say [], spell but say [], etc.). 

Memorize:

!

 Voiced consonants are pronounced like their voiceless counterparts at the end of words.

 
 

Click the words to listen, then read them aloud.

 []  tooth  final > []

 []  city  final > []

 []  luggage  final > []
 This rule is applicable only to the consonants which have voiceless counterparts: , , , , , .
9.3. The Consonant Cluster Rule
When a cluster of consonants occurs (mostly two consonants), the final element in the cluster determines if the whole cluster is voiced or voiceless.

Memorize:

 !

Before a voiceless consonant a voiced consonant is pronounced as its voiceless counterpart.

 
 

Click the words to listen, then read them aloud.

 [']  subtitles   > [] before voiceless

 []  tomorrow   > [] before voiceless

 []  vodka   > [] before voiceless

 []  spoon   > [] before voiceless

 !

 Before a voiced consonant a voiceless consonant is pronounced as its voiced counterpart.

 
Click the words to listen, then read them aloud.

 []  station   > [] before voiced

 []  soccer   > [] before voiced

 [ ]  they call you   > [] before voiced
 
9.4. Exceptions to the Consonant Cluster Rule
 

 

1. The unpaired voiced consonants , , , do not condition voicing of a preceding consonant.

Click the words to listen, then read them aloud. Compare.

 [']  captivity   = [] before

 [']  laugh   = [] before

 []  button   = [] before

 [']  three   = [] before
 

2. The voiced pair []-['] which devoices to []-['] at the end of words and before voiceless consonants does not itself condition voicing of a preceding consonant.

Click the words to listen, then read them aloud. Compare.

 []  bus   > [] before voiceless

 [ ']  in Canada   > [] before voiceless

but

 []  freedom   = [] before

 [']  apartment   = [] before
Exercises  
Listening and reading practice (words with voiced and voiceless consonants).
Listening and reading practice (devoicing of final consonants).
Listening and reading practice (devoicing of final consonants).
Listening and reading practice (words with a consonant cluster).
Listening and reading practice (words with a consonant cluster: exceptions to the rule).

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