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Today we’ll learn a cool technique for developing your fluency. All we really do is—in whatever word or phrase we’re focusing on—we change all the vowels to the same sound.
For ex: You’ve probably encountered the phrase: Меня зовут
Like: Меня зовут Марк.
Literally: Me they call Mark…which is how Russians introduce themselves. So, to develop our fluency with that phrase, let’s change all the vowels to an ‘uh’ sound. Like this: muh…nuh…zuh…vuh And try to say it faster and faster.
Now let’s look at just the vowels. They are, in essence: ih-ah-uh-oo
So we have: muh…nuh…zuh…vuh …and now we add in the vowels…ме-ня-зо-вут
Let’s try that technique with this word: находится.
So here are just the consonants, with a generic “ah” sound: на—ха—да—ца.
And here are the vowels, in essence: а-о-и-а
Putting them together…
Now, you might be thinking: Wait! Isn’t it too early for me to be worrying about fluency and speed?
No. Believe it or not, you want to strive for fluency right from the start. Mind you, fluency does not mean “speaking without an accent”, it means speaking without pause. It…s…no-t…com-for-tuh-ble to list…to lis-ten to-some-one—speak-in-G…like…this. It’s not comfortable for us to listen to very slow, careful speech.
Now, what was that word we were just practicing? It begins with an ‘N’ sound.
What does it mean? Imagine you’re traveling and you’re a bit lost. You’re wheeling your suitcase behind you and you stop someone. “Excuse me, can you tell me where the train station находится?”
Try that again…this time ask about the post office. So you’re carrying around a bunch of postcards that you’re dying to mail off. “Excuse me, can you tell me where the post office находится?”
So находится translates as “is located”. Can you tell me where the train station *is located?*
Let’s try that all in Russian. Listen as our speaker asks: Where…is located…Starbucks?
Где находится Старбакс?
You try it. Ask: “Where…is located….McDonalds?”
Где находится Макдоналдс?
In Russian, “касса” is the cashier—the place in a store where you pay. It can be hard to find sometimes, so let’s ask: Where is the kassa?
Где находится касса?
Alright. Getting back to our consonant-vowel separation, let’s try a new one. let’s make this our official new phrase of the day. So…The first time I see someone in the morning, I’ll tell them: доброе утро That’s two words. Listen again? доброе утро
Let’s repeat just the consonants, using a generic “uh” sound…duh-bruh—uh—truh.
And now the actual vowels: oh—uh-yeh—oo—uh
I like to switch back and forth.
..and then I slip in the vowels: доброе утро
This next greeting is very similar. Imagine it’s the middle of the day and I see a friend for the first time, so I tell her: добрый день
She smiles and waves back. добрый день
So here are the consonants: duh—bruh—duh (There is an “N” at the end, but I ignore that when I’m going for speed. So I keep it at: duh—bruh—duh)
And basically the vowels: oh—ee—ain
So, let’s review. You wake up and see your roommate in the kitchen, pouring a bowl of cereal. How do you greet him?…доброе утро
You get to work at noon. Greet the secretary: добрый день
Next, ask someone on the street: Where is located the theater?
Где находится театр?
That might be a new word for you: театр (slow), so let’s try it one more time.
Where is located the theater?
Где находится театр?
That might be a new word for you. Here’s the word “theater.”: театр
Let’s try it one more time: Where is located the theater?
Где находится театр?
And going further back with our review: What’s the word for “boy” in Russian?
And from the last episode….As you part ways with someone, what might you say?
Let’s do one more example of consonant-vowel separation. So, going back to the first phrase that we tried it on…do you remember that? Say, My name is Sophia.
Меня зовут София.
Well, after someone has introduced themself to you, the appropriate response in Russian is:
Again, you’ve probably encountered that before. It means literally: Very pleasant.
So, let’s focus on the consonants by flattening the vowels to an “uh” sound.
Notice how I’m actually skipping two sounds…the ‘N’ at the end of очень
and the other N at the end of приятно
Because, to me, this is the essence of the phrase: uh-chuh-pruh-yut
(Hit pause. Try that on your own.)
Now let’s go back and forth. Just the consonants…uh-chuh-pruh-yut
Now the vowels…очень прият(но)
Again, to finish, we need that “nuh” sound at the end.
So let’s try the exchange again. Say: My name is George.
Меня зовут Джордж.
And they respond: Very pleasant. очень приятно
Ok, let’s end by listening to a clip from a song. Can you spot today’s official new phrase?
(song: доброе утро / artist unknown)
Alright, see you in the next episode.