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How do native speakers learn ь and ъ?

 Language Learning Forum : Русский Post Reply
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Jt00
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 Message 1 of 11
19 July 2012 at 4:35am | IP Logged 
To the native Russian speakers on the forum, how did you learn ь and ъ growing up? This
has always confused me since I started learning Russian. The most comparable concept in
English that I can think of is "silent e" where adding an e to the end of a word (like
joke) makes the vowel in the middle long and the e silent. But ь and ъ modify consonants
(correct?), which is completely unfamiliar to me. I have heard people complain about
books that teach students to treat ь as a "y" sound, because letter combinations like пя
and пья sound the same when this method is used. So, how do native speakers learn this
concept growing up (i.e. how was it taught to you)?
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Serpent
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 Message 2 of 11
19 July 2012 at 2:16pm | IP Logged 
But that's much easier than vowels that don't have a default sound! :D
I don't remember, I think they were introduced one rule at a time. First the really easy, that at the end of the word it's used to denote a soft consonant. Then there are such concepts as разделительный твердый/мягкий знак, separating the consonant from the following syllable so that the й was pronounced. I think rather than just teaching us to rely on the phonetics, we had to learn the most common conditions for that, such as the prefixes (с-, об-) or that it often happends in foreign words eg адъютант.
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Марк
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 Message 3 of 11
19 July 2012 at 2:25pm | IP Logged 
You are right. пья is pya /pja/, while пя is p'a /pʲa/, that is soft p + a without any "y"
sound. The disjunctive signs, which stand between a consonant and a vowel, indicate the
presence of a "y" sound (/j/). We learn it very easily. So, adults pronounce the
appropriate combinations of sounds and show the correspondent combinations of letters. It
is the same as with everything else.
We learned the rule that ъ is used between the prefix and the root.
This is of course about the disjunctive signs.

Edited by Марк on 19 July 2012 at 2:27pm

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s0fist
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 Message 4 of 11
19 July 2012 at 9:51pm | IP Logged 
I might as well ask you how you learned to pronounce the letter e.
There's no doubt about it, by the time you entered school and learned various spelling rule for when to put an e and where, you've already learned to pronounce everything, long long before.
Same with Russian, long before learning how to write with correct soft and hard signs, every Russian speaker learned how to say soft consonants and how to say hard consonants, along with plenty of examples of when to use which.
Later in school of course we were all told various helpful rules for when to use ъ or ь with prefixes, when to use ь with тся и ться, and so on.
If you want to learn the rules, they can be found in most grammar books, if you want to learn to hear and pronounce words correctly, you should listen to and practice saying lots of words for a while.

Edited by s0fist on 19 July 2012 at 9:51pm

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vonPeterhof
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 Message 5 of 11
19 July 2012 at 10:12pm | IP Logged 
s0fist wrote:

Same with Russian, long before learning how to write with correct soft and hard signs, every Russian speaker learned how to say soft consonants and how to say hard consonants, along with plenty of examples of when to use which.
Later in school of course we were all told various helpful rules for when to use ъ or ь with prefixes, when to use ь with тся и ться, and so on.
If you want to learn the rules, they can be found in most grammar books, if you want to learn to hear and pronounce words correctly, you should listen to and practice saying lots of words for a while.
This. We didn't have to learn how to pronounce palatalized consonants by the time we reached kindergarten/first grade. I think there are more kids in Russia that can't roll their R's by first grade than those that can't distinguish soft consonants from hard ones. Generally saying that soft consonants are usually followed by soft vowels or ь is enough. Pure orthography is an entirely separate issue though - after having written in Russian for more than 16 years I still have to pause for a second every time I need to write -тся or -ться, since those are pronounced the same. Removing the -ся (or replacing it with "себя") in your head should make it clear which one is needed in a given sentence.

Edited by vonPeterhof on 19 July 2012 at 10:15pm

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Jt00
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 Message 6 of 11
20 July 2012 at 5:07am | IP Logged 
I am looking over the FSI Russian lessons and they say to smile at first when you are learning to say soft
consonants (I guess it distorts your mouth to where it is palatized) then to only use the middle of your tongue.
Is this a good approach to learning ь?
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Марк
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 Message 7 of 11
20 July 2012 at 10:31am | IP Logged 
Jt00 wrote:
I am looking over the FSI Russian lessons and they say to smile at first
when you are learning to say soft
consonants (I guess it distorts your mouth to where it is palatized) then to only use the
middle of your tongue.
Is this a good approach to learning ь?

Your problem is pronunciation, not spelling, isn't it?
The correct approach is to raise the middle of the tongue when you pronounce soft
consonants.
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Марк
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 Message 8 of 11
20 July 2012 at 10:34am | IP Logged 
vonPeterhof wrote:
   Generally saying that soft consonants are usually followed by soft
vowels or ь is enough.

Дети еще не знают, что такое мягкие и твердые согласные, когда начинают учиться читать.
Родители просто произносят "ле" и показывают на "ль", а ребенок быстро интуитивно
усваивает правила.


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