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Initial Ы Pronounced as И?[edit]

"The yery is theoretically never capitalized because no words start with it, but Cyrillic type faces do normally provide an uppercase form for setting type in all caps." This should be changed, because there are some words that do, in fact, have a initial Ы. [1]

Maybe this should be changed to "native" words or something. BirdValiant 01:01, 3 July 2006 (UTC)

I'm a native speaker of Russian and Ukrainian now living in the US. In every instance that I've seen of this letter in the various articles here it's always been referred to as Yery, but this seems very strange and unintuitive to me and would likely look the same to other native speakers. Perhaps there should be something to back up and/or explain why it's called this in English? (in Russian it's just called [ɨ]Shadow demon 10:31, 25 February 2007 (UTC)

Probably because English speakers find it difficult to pronounce. Demonic Duck 12:22, 28 June 2010 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Demonic Duck (talkcontribs)

"though these are generally pronounced as if they were spelled with <и>". This statement is incorrect. I live in Sakha Republic and never heard any Russian, either living here or a visitor, pronounce initial Ы as <и>. Deleting. Saaska (talk) 14:19, 24 January 2009 (UTC)

I would hate to engage in an edit war, but here you have 2.5 native speakers saying this statement is ridiculous and someone keeps restoring it "to give editors time to source it". If you see false information, correct it on the spot. When and if someone finds an erroneous source for a false statement, they may restore it, citing the source. Which will not make it true. Saaska (talk) 02:17, 25 January 2009 (UTC)
I'm not going to revert you, but per WP:V: "Any material lacking a reliable source may be removed, but editors might object if you remove material without giving them sufficient time to provide references, and it has always been good practice, and expected behavior of Wikipedia editors (in line with our editing policy), to make reasonable efforts to find sources oneself that support such material, and cite them."
I'm not a native speaker, but I have done quite a bit of research on Russian phonology. In my studies so far, I've only seen evidence that leads to the conclusion that ы is pronounced as и in isolation. For example, Jaye Padgett has conducted acoustic studies that show that ы is a diphthong and interprets it to be the result of the velarization of the preceding consonant.
While it's true that native speakers can provide helpful insights into a language's grammar (lexicon, syntax, etc), there are things that being a native speaker doesn't necessarily help with. One of these is the frequency of variation. What this means is that the 2.5 native speakers are providing anecdotal evidence that only demonstrates that the feature under question isn't universal. I do recognize that anecdote is the singular of data, but it would be nice if there were something in the article that prompted editors to question this issue and seek sources that may help clarify.
So if we don't have that statement with a citation request, is there anything else we could have in the article that prompts editors in such a way or should we just rely on the talk page discussion being enough to bring attention to the issue? — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 19:05, 25 January 2009 (UTC)
I do understand that native speakers may have a distorted view of such matters. We could say something like "some researchers, however, ..." with a reference to Padgett. Then again, a passage like the following one: "the vowel /i/ after non-palatalized consonants is usually transcribed as [ˆ] (or “y” in Slavicist literature), but here we transcribe [i] with velarization on the preceding consonant, following Padgett [2001] " (from Padgett's paper 1 make it sound like his view is rather unorthodox.
A simple experiment I imagine: make untrained Russians listen to a Russian pronouncing words with initial Ы and initial И, and write what they hear. The listeners must not have heard the words before - that's easy: take some obscure places or Korean military leaders. I'd bet they will get the first letter right. Saaska (talk) 12:09, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
I support Saaska here. A word starting with an initial Ы can be pronounced as such and a native Russian can easily tell that it's an Ы, not an И, although such a word would sound like a non-Russian. An example: Ыллымах (Yllymakh), a place in Yakutia (Sakha). This won't sound like Иллымах. There are many cases when И is pronounced as Ы, but not the other way around. If someone likes to use the letter "ы" on its own (Ы-ы-ы!), this action can be called "ыкать" (И нечего тут ыкать! :) ). Anatoli (talk) 12:31, 28 January 2009 (UTC)


I'm not a native speaker, but would it be helpful to say that pronunciation is similar to German Ü? Or would this be misleading? Demonic Duck (talk) 11:18, 28 June 2010 (UTC)

Nope. You probably confused Ы (which is unrounded) with Ю (which is rounded, like U and Ü). Ы and Ü are both close vowels, but it is their only common property. Incnis Mrsi (talk) 12:45, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

Ы/И minimal pairs[edit]

I don't understand how it can be disputed whether Ы and И distinction is phonemic, given that there are indisputable minimal pairs. A textbook example is быть (to be) vs. бить (to beat, to hit, to pound), and there is not a slightest chance that a native Russian speaker would mispronounce one for the other, or mishear one for the other if pronounced by another native Russian speaker. Actually, as a second language Russian speaker and native Polish speaker, I can boldly attest that I would never mishear one for the other either. These vowels are very different, much more so than their Polish counterparts y and i that happen to occur in the parallel minimal pair być vs. bić. Rulatir (talk) 18:54, 13 August 2010 (UTC)

The initial consonants of these words are different: /b/ and /bʲ/ respectively. These consonants are undisputably separate phonemes, since there are minimal pairs such as бака/бяка. Burzuchius (talk) 16:16, 10 March 2013 (UTC)

Wrong phonetics[edit]

I'm pretty certain that I can attest, as someone of Russian heritage, that this letter does not sound like a Close central unrounded vowel (ɨ) but definitely like a Close back unrounded vowel (ɯ). Feel free to discuss all your Westernized theories of doom and gloom. --Vitilsky (talk) 21:25, 12 May 2014 (UTC)