Learn Russian Pronunciation Podcast Ep. 14

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Welcome to episode 14. Today we’ll be covering our last ‘tricky letter’. The short E. Й

This one isn’t so hard to pronounce as it is to read. For the most part, the best way to think of it is like the ‘y’ in boy…but very short and sharp. Listen and repeat as our speakers say yogurt, yoga, and York…as in New York.

йогурт, йога, Йорк, Нью-Йорк

And now some words where the ‘й’ it the final letter. Listen? Май…чай

Let’s make those our official words of this lesson, so let’s try to get the meaning from context.

In Russian, the fifth month of the year is called май

Try this. Say: January, February, March, April, май

Next: When you pour boiling water over herbal leaves, the resulting drink is called…чай

Earl Gray is famous for what drink? Чай

In both of those, the vowel was an ‘a’. Now let’s try our И-краткий after an accented or stressed O. Listen and repeat…мой…твой…герой…домой

And now we’ll hear it following an unstressed O. This is an odd sound, and definitely a stumbling block for students. Listen…


Again, those last two letters are an O that’s unstressed—making it an ‘uh’ sound, as we remember—and then the short E at the end. Here are some more:



с Мамой

с Папой

с Яной

Moving on, let’s hear our short E after the vowel…Е





Quick review: Fill in the blank. Jan, Feb, March, April… май

The two most popular caffeinated drinks are кофе and….чай

Let’s extend our review back to the previous lesson.

I like to read Popular Mechanics and G.Q., but Newsweek is my favorite…журнал

The tallest animal on Earth is the … жираф.

After a hard workout I like to get a full-body….массаж

I always park my car in the …. гараж

Did you remember to devoice those last two? Not “massaZH? but “massash”? Excellent.

We’ll do more review in a minute. But first, how would you pronounce the following Russian word, spelled: М-О-and Й (our Short E)? We heard it earlier in the lesson… Мой…and we learned it, actually, back in Episode 9. Remember the phrase: Oh my God.

О, мой Бог.

So мой is one way to say “my”, in Russian.

For ex: Say: My husband

Мой муж

My shishkabob

Мой шашлык

My flower

Мой цветок

My beet and potato soup

Мой борщ

My boy

Мой мальчик

My soup

Мой суп

My tea

Мой чай

For feminine nouns—ones that end with an “ah” sound in their basic form—we need a different form of “my”. Listen?


So try to say: My wife.

моя жена

My toy.

моя игрушка

My pizza.

моя пицца

My porridge.

моя каша

Let’s work some more with our Short E (Й). Listen and repeat…


Russians use that exclamation the same way we do in English. Like: “Ай-я-яй…look at this traffic!” And do you hear two ‘short E’s’? – ай-я-яй

Next: In Russian, whenever we tell a friend or family member to do something—to Look! or Listen! or Go! and so on—the command will end with some kind of ‘ee’ sound. Not always, but almost always. It might be a long И like…Смотри! Look! or Скажи! Tell me!

Or, just as commonly, the command will end with our Short E sound. Like the following…





Again, each of those are commands…You’re telling someone. Do it! (давай) or Eat! (кушай) Hug me. (обнимай) Listen! (слушай) And those all ended with ‘a’ and the Short E.

Some commands end with O and the Short E. Like these…





And a few command forms end with an “u” plus the Short E. Like these..




Let’s take a moment and review the letters we’ve worked with these past four lessons. Can you think of a word that starts with a “sh” sound? Hit pause if you need to.


How about with that “sh-ch” sound? I’ll give you a hint: Cabbage soup…


And a word that starts with a “ts” sound…like “its”…


How about a word that starts with “zh” (Ж)?


And today’s “short E”…We really only looked at two words which start with that sound. We heard them at the start of the lesson. Do you recall?



And what were our official words for today? The 5th month of the year is called…?

And a hot drink that rivals coffee in popularity?

And finally, today, we learned two forms of the word “my.” Try to say…

My husband

мой муж

My wife.

моя жена

My boy.

мой мальчик

My toy.

моя игрушка

My soup.

мой суп

My porridge.

моя каша

My tea.

мой чай

My pizza.

моя пицца

Alright. Great job. Next lesson we’re going to learn the chorus of a really nice song, so get those vocal cords ready and I’ll see you there.