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The charts below show the way in which the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) represents Russian pronunciations in Wikipedia articles. For a guide to adding IPA characters to Wikipedia articles, see {{IPA-ru}} and Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Pronunciation § Entering IPA characters.

Russian distinguishes hard (unpalatalized or plain) and soft (palatalized) consonants (both phonetically and orthographically). Soft consonants, most of which are denoted by a superscript j, ʲ, are pronounced with the body of the tongue raised toward the hard palate, like the articulation of the y sound in yes. In native words /j, ɕː, tɕ/ are always soft, whereas /ʐ, ʂ, ts/ are always hard.[1]

See Russian phonology and Russian alphabet for a more thorough look at the sounds of Russian.

Hard Soft
IPA Examples English approximation IPA Examples English approximation
b бок; апде́йт[2] boot бе́лый, бью beautiful
d дать; футбо́л[2] do де́ло; ходьба́; жени́тьба[2] media
[3] джип jug [3] начди́в; дочь бы[2] jig
dz[3] плацда́рм[2] lads dzʲ[3] дзюдо́[1] lad's young
f фо́рма; вы́ставка;[2] бо́ров[4] fool фина́л; верфь; кровь[4] few
ɡ год;[5][6] анекдо́т[2] goo ɡʲ геро́й argue
ɣ Го́споди; ага́;[5] Бог даст; дух бодр[2] loch (Scottish) but voiced ɣʲ двухдверный[2] Loch Ewe (Scottish) but voiced
j есть [je-]; ёж [jɵ-]; юг [ju-]; я [ja]; майо́р[7] yes
k кость; бе́гство;[2] флаг[4] scar кино́; секью́рити skew
l луна́[8] pill лес; боль failure
m мы́ло moot мя́со; семь mute
n нос noon нёс; день; ко́нчик[9] vinyard
p под; ры́бка;[2] зуб[4] span пе́пел; цепь; зыбь[4] spew
r раз flapped or trilled r, like in Spanish ряд; зверь flapped or trilled r, like in Spanish
s соба́ка; ска́зка;[2] глаз[4] soup си́ний; здесь; есть; грызть;[2] резь[4] assume (for some dialects)
ʂ широ́кий; кни́жка;[2] муж;[4] что[10] rush ɕː щека́; счита́ть; мужчи́на[2][11] wish sheep
t то; во́дка;[2] лёд[4] stand тень; дитя́; путь; грудь[4] stew (RP)
ts[3] цена́; нра́виться cats tsʲ[3] Цю́рих[1] cat's young
[3] ко́лледж[4] chop [3] чай; течь chip
v вы; его́;[6] афга́н[2] voodoo весь; вью́га view
x ход; Бог[5] loch (Scottish); ugh хи́трый; Хью́стон; лёгкий[5] huge (for some dialects)
z зуб; сбор[2] zoo зима́; резьба́; жизнь; про́сьба[2] presume (for some dialects)
ʐ жест; кешбэ́к[2] rouge ʑː по́зже;[12] вещдо́к[2] prestige genre
Stressed vowels
[-soft] [+soft]
IPA Examples English approximation IPA Examples English approximation
a трава́ father (Australian English) æ пять; ча́сть[13] pat (US)
ɛ жест; э́тот met e пень; э́тика[13] mace
ɨ ты; ши́шка; с и́грами roses (for some dialects) i ли́ния; и́ли meet
o о́блако; шёпот chore ɵ тётя; плечо́[13] foot
u пу́ля cool ʉ чуть; лю́ди[13] choose
Unstressed vowels
[-soft] [+soft]
IPA Examples English approximation IPA Examples English approximation
ə ко́жа; о́блако; се́рдце; собира́ть[14] about ə во́ля; сего́дня; ку́ча[15] lasagna
ɐ облака́; како́й; сообража́ть; тропа́[14] bud ɪ лиса́; четы́ре; тяжёлый; де́вять; часы́[16] bit
ɛ тетра́эдр; поэте́сса[17] met
ɨ дыша́ть; жена́; во́ды; эта́п; к Ива́ну roses (for some dialects)
o ра́дио; поэте́сса[17] chore ɵ ма́чо; сёрфинги́ст[13][18] foot
ʊ мужчи́на pull ʉ чуде́сный; люби́ть[13] youth
IPA Example Explanation
ˈ четы́ре [tɕɪˈtɨrʲɪ] stress mark, placed before the stressed syllable
ː сза́ди [ˈzːadʲɪ][2] consonant length mark, placed after the geminated consonant


  1. ^ a b c Even though /ts/ and its voicing [dz] are considered to be exclusively hard consonants, they may be palatalized in certain words of foreign origin.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Consonants in consonant clusters are assimilated in voicing if the final consonant in the sequence is an obstruent (except [v, vʲ]). All consonants become voiceless if the final consonant is voiceless or voiced if the final consonant is voiced (Halle 1959:31).
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h The affricates [ts], [tɕ], and [tʂ] (and their voiced counterparts [dz], [dʑ], and [dʐ]) are sometimes written with ligature ties: [t͡s], [t͡ɕ], and [t͡ʂ] ([d͡z], [d͡ʑ], and [d͡ʐ]). Ties are not used in transcriptions on Wikipedia (except in phonology articles) because they may not display correctly in all browsers.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k The voiced obstruents /b, bʲ, d, dʲ, ɡ, v, vʲ, z, zʲ, ʐ/ are devoiced word-finally unless the next word begins with a voiced obstruent (Halle 1959:22).
  5. ^ a b c d г is usually pronounced [ɣ] or (word-finally) [x] in some religious words and colloquial derivatives from them, such as Госпо́дь [ɣɐsˈpotʲ] and Бог [box], and in the interjections ага́, ого́, Го́споди, ей-бо́гу, and also in бухга́лтер [bʊˈɣaltʲɪr] (Timberlake 2004:23). /ɡ/ devoices and lenites to [x] before voiceless obstruents (dissimilation) in the word roots -мягк- or -мягч-, -легк- or -легч-, -тягч-, and also in the old-fashioned pronunciation of -ногт-, -когт-, кто. Speakers of the Southern Russian dialects may pronounce г as [ɣ] (soft [ɣʲ], devoiced [x] and []) throughout.
  6. ^ a b Intervocalic г represents /v/ in certain words (сего́дня, сего́дняшний, итого́ ), and in the genitive suffix -ого/-его (Timberlake 2004:23).
  7. ^ The soft vowel letters е, ё, ю, я represent iotated vowels /je, jo, ju, ja/, except when following a consonant. When these vowels are unstressed (save for ё, which is always stressed) and follow another vowel letter, the /j/ may not be present. The letter и produces iotated sound /ji/ only after ь.
  8. ^ /l/ is often strongly pharyngealized [ɫ], but that feature is not distinctive (Ladefoged & Maddieson 1996:187-188).
  9. ^ Alveolo-palatal consonants are subjected to regressive assimilative palatalization; i.e. they tend to become palatalized in front of other phones with the same place of articulation.
  10. ^ Most speakers pronounce ч in the pronoun что and its derivatives as [ʂ]. All other occurrences of чт cluster stay as affricate and stop.
  11. ^ щ is sometimes pronounced as [ɕː] or [ɕɕ] and sometimes as [ɕtɕ], but no speakers contrast the two pronunciations. This generally includes the other spellings of the sound, but the word счи́тывать sometimes has [ɕtɕ] because of the morpheme boundary between the prefix с- and the root -чит-.
  12. ^ Geminated [ʐː] is pronounced as soft [ʑː], the voiced counterpart to [ɕː], in a few lexical items (such as дро́жжи or заезжа́ть) by conservative Moscow speakers; such realization is now somewhat obsolete (Yanushevskaya & Bunčić (2015:224)).
  13. ^ a b c d e f Vowels are fronted and/or raised in the context of palatalized consonants: /a/ and /u/ become [æ] and [ʉ], respectively between palatalized consonants, /e/ is realized as [e] before and between palatalized consonants and /o/ becomes [ɵ] after and between palatalized consonants.
  14. ^ a b Unstressed /a/ and /o/ regularly lose their contrast, being pronounced [ɐ] in word-initial position, as well as when in a sequence, and [ə] in posttonic position (i.e. after the stress); in non-initial pretonic position (i.e. before the stress) they are reduced to [ɐ] only immediately before the stress, being realized [ə] otherwise.
  15. ^ Only in certain word-final morphemes (Timberlake 2004:48-51).
  16. ^ Unstressed /a/ is pronounced as [ɪ] after ч and щ except when word-final.[citation needed]
  17. ^ a b In the careful style of pronunciation unstressed /e/ and /o/ in words of foreign origin may be pronounced with little or no reduction.
  18. ^ Unstressed [ɵ] only occurs in words of foreign origin.


  • Cubberley, Paul (2002), "The phonology of Modern Russian", Russian: A Linguistic Introduction, Cambridge University Press
  • Halle, Morris (1959), Sound Pattern of Russian, MIT Press
  • Jones, Daniel; Ward, Dennis (1969), The Phonetics of Russian, Cambridge University Press
  • Ladefoged, Peter; Maddieson, Ian (1996). The Sounds of the World's Languages. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-631-19815-4.
  • Timberlake, Alan (2004), "Sounds", A Reference Grammar of Russian, Cambridge University Press
  • Yanushevskaya, Irena; Bunčić, Daniel (2015), "Russian" (PDF), Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 45 (2): 221–228, doi:10.1017/S0025100314000395

See also[edit]