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Hello in Russian
The Russian word for 'hello' is one of the most common words used in Russia, but unfortunately one of the most difficult for new students to pronounce, because it is long and uses an unusual (for English) combination of letters.
When you come across difficult words like this we suggest you break the words down into syllables and sounds, and then try to learn the word in pieces. You may find it easier to start with the last syllable first, and then add more sounds and syllables until you can pronounce the complete word.
As an example, we will illustrate this technique with the Russian word for 'hello'.
This word is unusual because some of the letters in the formal spelling of the word are not vocalised. Usually in Russian (unlike English) there are no silent letters, but for this word you just have to remember how to pronounce it.
So let's learn to pronounce this word, syllable-by-syllable.
Say 'tyeh' a few times.
Say 'wi-tyeh' a few times until it sounds natural.
zzDRAST rhymes with the English word 'thrust' (British pronunciation).
Say 'thrust' out-loud.
Now say 'DRAST' out-loud.
Repeat 'thrust' and 'DRAST' until you understand the similarities in their pronunciation.
To make 'DRAST' sound correct in Russian, don’t forget to use a slight 'rolling of the r' if you can.
Try to blend the 'zz' sound with the first D. Say 'zzD' out-loud many times.
And now say zzDRAST out-loud, and repeat many times.
The first syllable is emphasised in 'zzDRAST-wi-tyeh', so zzDRAST is pronounced slightly stronger than the other syllables.
Practice saying 'zzDRAST-wi-tyeh' many times because it is an important word to know and understand. Say it slowly so you get the pronunciation correct. There is no necessity to speak quickly in Russian, but they will speak quickly to you!
You will notice when some (not all) Russians speak they pronounce their Vs as Ws!
Therefore you might be asked to join in a round of 'wodka'.
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