Author Topic: I don't Understand "Soft Sign" Pronounciation  (Read 563 times)

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Offline Bryan Paul

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I don't Understand "Soft Sign" Pronounciation
« on: December 24, 2015, 08:29:17 AM »
I'm in a Ukrainian parish, and am joining the choir. We have a "Ukrainian Sunday" each month, where much of the liturgy is in Ukrainian. I figure I better learn how to pronounce it, even if I don't know what it means. It's slow going, but I've found some YouTube videos that help. The one thing I can't figure out is the "soft sign" ("ь"). I understand that it makes the preceding consonant "soft", but I have no idea what that means. No one ever seems to explain it.
One guy said that you raise your tongue to the roof of your mouth at the end of the consonant, but when I try to do that, it doesn't make sense. For example, when pronouncing "н" your tongue is already touching the roof of your mouth. What's the difference between that and "нь"? (When this guy pronounces "день", it sounds like he's saying "denya" to me.)
Also, the "с" sound: how is "сь" any different from "с"?
Can anyone supply any audio examples of someone pronouncing these consonants with and without the "ь"?
I have always found the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom to be so much more moving in the original Ukrainian.

Offline mike

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Re: I don't Understand "Soft Sign" Pronounciation
« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2015, 08:36:19 AM »
Try using the feature that reads the tekst
world ending with н
world ending with нь
world ending with c
world starting with cь

These are Polish examples but the pronunciation would be the same.

Having wrote that, speakers Slavic countries often complain they don't get it no matter how they try.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2015, 08:36:41 AM by mike »
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Offline Bryan Paul

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Re: I don't Understand "Soft Sign" Pronounciation
« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2015, 10:06:32 AM »
Try using the feature that reads the tekst
world ending with н
world ending with нь
world ending with c
world starting with cь

These are Polish examples but the pronunciation would be the same.

Having wrote that, speakers Slavic countries often complain they don't get it no matter how they try.

Thank you. The first two, to me, sounded like "Don" and "Donyi".
The second two didn't actually end in c or cь, so I don't understand.
I have always found the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom to be so much more moving in the original Ukrainian.

Offline mike

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Re: I don't Understand "Soft Sign" Pronounciation
« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2015, 10:20:13 AM »
The second two didn't actually end in c or cь, so I don't understand.

Ops. I meant, they start.
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Offline Serg-antr

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Re: I don't Understand "Soft Sign" Pronounciation
« Reply #4 on: December 25, 2015, 03:04:43 PM »
Язик кiнчиком перекриває вихiд повтря мiж зубами, виходить "с", якщо прижати язик бiльшою площиною до пiднебiння, вийде "сь". Так само ль, нь.

Offline Bryan Paul

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Re: I don't Understand "Soft Sign" Pronounciation
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2015, 08:13:57 AM »
Язик кiнчиком перекриває вихiд повтря мiж зубами, виходить "с", якщо прижати язик бiльшою площиною до пiднебiння, вийде "сь". Так само ль, нь.

Lo siento. No comprendo.
I have always found the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom to be so much more moving in the original Ukrainian.

Offline trifecta

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Re: I don't Understand "Soft Sign" Pronounciation
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2015, 10:57:23 AM »
Ah, yes  the maki-znak (phonetic).

What those videos didn't tell you is the back of the tongue must be raised to the roof of the mouth. (I had the same thoughts that you did when I began studying Russian in the pre-Internet days).

This causes sound to draw out a millisecond longer but its not really an extra syllable and
although one might transliterate it as such, please don't add a syllable.  Example: It's not
"Tatianya" its  "Tatyana."

The reason it is called a soft sign is because it comes out higher in your register than a hard sound.
In other words, if you were to sing it, the hard sound would be a lower note than a soft sound.

With n, would sound like a much less stressed second n in the spanish phrase "el nino."  But its pronounced differently.   Again, stick the **back** of your tongue up to make the n sound and you'll get it fast.

As for the s, I guess its the same way, although I can't do it right.   Another thing to think about:
the sh letter in cyrillic isn't pronounced the same as in English.  The front of the tongue goes behind the front teeth and the lips are round, while the shch letter the lips are smiling.

And by the way,  Slavic speakers (at least those using the Cyrillic alphabet) do notice the difference between hard and soft consonants.

Happy singing!

born Catholic, became a Protestant, now and hereafter an Orthodox Christian

Offline mike

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Re: I don't Understand "Soft Sign" Pronounciation
« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2015, 10:59:31 AM »
And by the way,  Slavic speakers (at least those using the Cyrillic alphabet) do notice the difference between hard and soft consonants.

I can't say about Southern Slavs or Czechs/Slovakians but the difference exists in Polih as well.
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Offline eddybear

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Re: I don't Understand "Soft Sign" Pronounciation
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2015, 07:37:17 PM »
the sh letter in cyrillic isn't pronounced the same as in English.  The front of the tongue goes behind the front teeth and the lips are round, while the shch letter the lips are smiling.
Great tip! I'm trying to learn Russian, and this is the first time I've really got the difference between "sh" and "shch".

Offline Bryan Paul

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Re: I don't Understand "Soft Sign" Pronounciation
« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2015, 08:56:07 AM »
Thank you, Trifecta. That's very helpful.
I have always found the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom to be so much more moving in the original Ukrainian.

Offline rakovsky

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Re: I don't Understand "Soft Sign" Pronounciation
« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2016, 03:13:27 PM »
Язик кiнчиком перекриває вихiд повтря мiж зубами, виходить "с", якщо прижати язик бiльшою площиною до пiднебiння, вийде "сь". Так само ль, нь.

Lo siento. No comprendo.
I think it says something like what what trifecta said:
the back of the tongue must be raised to the roof of the mouth.

It seems to say put the tongue in a big plane to the roof of the mouth.
Not totally sure.