Latly im reaserching ways to improve the pronunciation on a foreign language, and i came to the International Phonetic Alphabet.
I´d like to know the opinion of the people on the forum: do you think Is it worth to spend time studying it?
i find extremely hard to hear and produce new sounds. Many of them looks the same to me, and this is obviously reflected in the way i speak.
I dont aim to speak like a native, but to have some decent pronunciation on Russian and English. Any advices or tips would help.
PS: Im also doing minimal pairs, i find that more effective than the IPA. But maybe everything is more simple and the best way is to just listen and repeat what natiive speakers say. Let me know what you think
Well, there are different ways to approach pronunciation learning and I’ve found that it’s more useful to combine several of them. I’ve used IPA a lot, especially in English and to some extent in French. I’m not using it so much for Russian now but I’ve found it useful a couple of times to solve some doubts about vowel reduction.
The main use of IPA is to know what phonemes are supposed to make up a given word. It’s not that useful in order to actually learn the phonemes.
My usual approach to phoneme learning is this:
I think I know a new phoneme when I can associate the movements of my mouth with the sound they produce. In that sense I’m a fan of the “listening with your mouth” method. I don’t rely primarily on just “imitating” sounds, as, for example, Steve seems to prefer.
So, I try to gather information about the mechanics of pronunciation when I find a difficult phoneme and I make an effort to pronounce it and decide when my pronunciation is roughy in line with that of native people.
I don’t concentrate on being able to recognize that phoneme in isolation. That will come over time and I can always rely on context to help me understand words in the meantime.
A couple of examples in the case of Russian. I found this paper very useful for learning to properly pronounce ж and ш, and distinguishing the latter from щ The reason is the detailed discussion of the pronunciation mechanics compounded by the clear mouth diagrams:
To learn the pronunciation of ы I used several resources but the most useful one was this (in Spanish):
It helps you both place the tongue in the correct position (so you can feel where it is) and to produce the right sound. Again, when I’m able to associate both things consistently (it takes practice) I consider that I “master” the sound.
To make my position a bit clearer:
I don’t try to “recognize” or “detect” the sounds. In that sense I’ve never done minimal pairs or the like and I don’t plan to ever do it.
I concentrate on pronouncing them and associate my mouth movements with the proper sound.
For comprehension I rely on a combination of transfering my experience when I pronounce the sounds (“listening with your mouth”) and context.
Over time, I usually end up being able to detect the phoneme.
For Russian i´ve learnt the difference between И/Ы and the soft hard consonats, (thats the main differences on sounds) but it turns out there are much more things, as for example the letter A, can have different sounds like in English. And the letter У also can have different sounds.This was a surprise for me. You can watch this video where is well explained.
I found this so demotivating, as for English, i still cant hear any difference between, “seek, sick” or “bat, but”, When i talk i pronounce exactly the same words. I guess i did it bad from begining not studying IPA and is already fossilizated.
Me da mucha rabia porque he llegado a un nivel en el que puedo comunicarme eficientemente en ambos idiomas, pero da el efecto de que hablo mal debido a mi acento y a la mala pronunciación de algunos sonidos. Como me gustaria tener el don de poder hablar como los nativos, como algunos poliglotas que son maestros imitando, Luca lampariello por ejemplo. Pero no sé como entrenarlo para empezar, y despues de casi 3 años de estudiar ruso obsesivamente, de intensa escucha y leer como se recomienda en esta web, puedo decir que puedo entender y hablar, pero mi pronunciación es la de “relaxing cup of cafe con leche” jeje.
another video i´ve found about the topic
i guess for English speakers would be easier to do the different kinds of vowels.
In Spanish we only have one A, and in Russian 3 kinds .
Jajajajajaja! Te entiendo. Pero no creo que esté “fosilizado”. A veces es cuestión de no resignarse. Steve Kaufmann dice que para conseguir pronunciar bien, lo primero es “quererlo”, imaginarlo y no identificarse con el acento que se tiene ahora.
La “a” rusa en concreto, no debería ser un problema para ti porque es similar al catalán (otro idioma que reduce las vocales, como el ruso y el inglés).
La A rusa puede pronunciarse como:
Una “a” castellana (o catalana cuando se acentúa)
Una “a” similar pero más corta
Una “schwa”, es decir, una “vocal neutra” catalana
Te recomiendo este canal para aprender los fonemas ingleses:
This is a quick overview of vowel reduction in Russian, which yoy may find useful.
To reiterate what I wrote in Spanish:
the pronunciation of “a” in Russian is not very different from that of catalan “a” (in the eastern block variety).
Only, instead of just two possibilities as in catalan:
/a/ for stressed syllables
schwa for non-stressed
Russian adds a third possibility in the case of the syllable before the stress or beginning of the word. It’s a bit in between those two sounds.
In catalan, reduced “a” merges with reduced “e”, whereas in Russian, “a” merges with “o” in unstressed positions.