Hello, I am new here, so maybe this isn't the right forum (everyone here seems to already speak Russian already :S) I am from New Zealand and live with my Russian-born girlfriend currently in Germany. While German didn't pose much difficulty in pronunciation, Russian has given me no end of grief from the first moment. I'm sure many have trouble with hard and soft consonants, but despite searchings for hours and hours on the net, I can't find a single bit of advice that has helped. A noteable one is Л and Л'. Personally, I articulate L the same way for every word that I speak - I experimented with hundreds of different words. But Liu (the girlfriend) says that my L is neither soft nor hard. To try and describe what I'm doing roughly - my jaw is in a shape as if I was going to say the vowel EE, as in "meet" or И. The tip of my tongue is pressing against the alveolar ridge just behind my teeth. The back of my tongue is raised slightly - not touching my palate but not flattened. I can't flatten it no matter how hard I try. I made a picture of what I think it looks like. Air passes through the sides. But if this is neither a hard or soft Л, then what is? While holding the tip of my tongue to the roof, I've shifted it forward and backwards as far as possible, but it always results in the same sounds. Some have said that the hard Л is like an American dark L, but after research it seems that a dark L is essentially just a light L with a different vowel before it. What everyone has probably mentioned here once or twice also is the notion of adding Y before the consonant, like "Lyooba" for "Liuba". But I know this is wrong and I'd rather learn the correct way if possible. At the end of the day, this is all just palatization, right? How do you palatize an M? Your lips are closed during the articulation, so the tongue position has absolutely no effect on the sound. The moment you release the lips, it ceases to be an M, so even if you had your tongue in a palatized position during the articulation, then aren't you essentially just adding an EE sound after the consonant? Место, then, is really just M + short EE + ES + TUH, as far as I can tell. Yet I *know* that this is wrong. If someone can cure me of this inability to comprehend the hard/soft concept, I will bow down and worship them forever and ever. P.S. My girlfriend jokes that New Zealanders are just genetically inferior. Joking aside, I discovered that my tongue has an extremely short frenulum (tongue acrobatics are impossible, I cannot curl it any direction, even upwards; I can't reach my nose, or even my little goatee under my bottom lip). From what I can tell it's impossible for me to pronounce the rolled R properly because of this, so I wondered if this would inhibit other sounds as well? Does anyone else have this ankyloglossia and manage to pronounce the full set of Russian sounds? Thanks for any and all help, Sam!