щ pronunciation

Au101

Senior Member
England, English (UK)
Hi, I'm sorry if this is a duplicate, but I couldn't find it anywhere else. I have an interest in different scripts and wanted to learn Cyrillic. Because it is, of course, used for so many languages, I decided to focus on the Russian alphabet only, but I'm having particular trouble with the pronunciation of this letter (щ) and was wondering if anybody might be able to help me.

Thanks.
 
  • rusita preciosa

    Modus forendi
    Russian (Moscow)
    It's kinda hard to explain phonetics in a written forum, but the best way to understand it is by contrast with ш

    Pronounce shop and sheep.

    See how "sh" in shop is slightly more "open" and forms deeper inside your mouth? this would be close to ш
    In sheep "sh" is more "closed" and is formed closer to your upper teeth, this would be closer to щ

    Now, try to exagerate the difference slightly and you get decent ш and щ
     

    Maroseika

    Moderator
    Russian
    Щ is defined as long soft ш [ʃ]. But you better look for a phonetic site in the Internet or somebody to pronounce it for you.
     

    Au101

    Senior Member
    England, English (UK)
    :) Thanks a lot. Yeah, I asked in here, because trying to learn correct pronunciation from written resources is nigh on impossible, so I asked for a native's advice. I have tried youtube, but it's hard to know exactly where to put your tongue to get the best pronunciation, but that was really helpful. Thanks :).
     

    Au101

    Senior Member
    England, English (UK)
    Sorry, Maroseika, I was writing a response to Rusita Preciosa when you posted, so I didn't see your post. Thank you very much as well.
     

    phosphore

    Senior Member
    Serbian
    The Russian letter <щ> (as well as some other combinations of letters in some cases) represents the voiceless alveolo-palatal fricative [ɕɕ], while English <sh> represents the voiceless palato-alveolar fricative [ʃ]. So I would say that you should pull your tongue a little forward in your mouth when pronouncing Russian <щ> comparing to the pronounciation of English <sh>.
     

    Au101

    Senior Member
    England, English (UK)
    Now, you see, Phosphore, when I see, in pronunciation guides, "voiceless alveolo-palatal fricative [ɕɕ]", it makes absolutely no sense at all, whatsoever :). But you have explained that beautifully. Thank you.
     

    phosphore

    Senior Member
    Serbian
    You are welcome. :)

    The alveolar consonants are articulated with your tongue approaching or touching your alveolar ridge, which is located up in your mouth just behind your teeth. The palatal consonants, similarly, are articulated with your tongue approaching or touching your hard palate, which is located up in your mouth behind the alveolar ridge. Then the alveolo-palatal consonants are articulated in the rear part of the alveolar ridge, while the palato-alveolar ones are articulated in the front part of your hard palate. Voiceless means that your vocal cords are not vibrating during the articulation, while fricative means the realisation of the particular consonant is characterised by a turbulent noise of the frication at the place of articulation. It all may seem complicated but it is not really.
     

    Au101

    Senior Member
    England, English (UK)
    A wonderfully in-depth explanation, which I have to say, is very useful. Thanks once again. However, I can't say that I agree with you when you say "t all may seem complicated but it is not really." :)
     

    jemp

    New Member
    Polish/polski
    Hello Au101,

    I think you might find the following links very helpful:

    [Please disregard all the spaces in the adresses: the forum doesn't allow me (yet) to post URLs, so I had to 'veil' them somehow :)]

    1. http :// fonetica .philol .msu .ru/avi/sch.mpg - animation of how щ is pronounced in Russian
    2. http: // fonetica .philol .msu .ru/avi/sh.mpg - for comparison: this shows the pronunciation of ш [these two animations are part of an extensive website on Russian phonetics: http :// fonetica .philol .msu .ru/ (in Russian)]
    3. http :// www .uiowa .edu/~acadtech/phonetics/# - here you can find an animation which shows how to pronounce the similar English "sh" sound (When you choose the English language, a window will pop up, where you first click on "fricative" in the menu above, and then on "ʃ").

    All the best :)
    jemp
     

    vox05

    Senior Member
    Russia, Russian
    avi/sh.mpg - for comparison: this shows the pronunciation of ш
    It seems that I've pronounced 'ш' the wong way for all my life :( At least the tip of my tongue is nowhere near upper teeth, and the place of articulation is the hard palate, maybe its rear part.
     

    jemp

    New Member
    Polish/polski
    It seems that I've pronounced 'ш' the wong way for all my life :( At least the tip of my tongue is nowhere near upper teeth, and the place of articulation is the hard palate, maybe its rear part.
    Well, you’re a native speaker of Russian, vox05, and I doubt if native speakers can do anything ‘wrong’ in the pronunciation of their native languages :) (unless someone has a speech disorder, of course). Maybe there is some (dialectal?) variation with respect to this consonant? Or maybe the animation I gave is just plain incorrect? :)

    I’m no expert in Russian phonetics – I wanted to help Au101 by sharing some links :) It's probable that I was a bit too quick to trust this Russian source – but I’ll wait and see what others think about this animation :)
     
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    xjm

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    It seems that I've pronounced 'ш' the wong way for all my life :( At least the tip of my tongue is nowhere near upper teeth, and the place of articulation is the hard palate, maybe its rear part.
    Do you curl the tip of your tongue back a little?
     

    Lavrans

    New Member
    Russian
    It's almost impossible to explain how to pronounce "Щ" in a written form.
    So have a look on this page for the russian alphabet with pronunciations of all the letters.
    friends-partners.org/oldfriends/language/russian-alphabet/html
     

    xjm

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    I curl it down so that it's below and behid the lower teeth and doesn't participate in articulation at all.
    Interesting. So your tongue-tip position is in the same position for both the hard and soft version, and the only difference with Щ is that it is palatized and perhaps lengthened a little? (Sorry for asking such a fussy question, but I have always had trouble with these two consonants.)
     

    Christo Tamarin

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Щ is defined as long soft ш [ʃ]. But you better look for a phonetic site in the Internet or somebody to pronounce it for you.
    Originally, Щ was defined as Ш + Ч (SH + TCH).

    Most Slavic languages, incl. Russian, make difference between hard and soft consonants. If you do not care about that, you should not care about the proper pronunciation of Щ: it could be SH + CH as in "freSH CHeese", e.g.

    Further on, in Russian, Ш is always hard and Ч is always soft. If you do not have a good soft pronunciation of the Russian Ч, then you should not care about the proper pronunciation of Щ: it could be SH + CH as in .. (see above).

    Now, the problem comes with the fact that the Щ cluster being defined as {Ш + Ч} undergoes assimilation in the following way: softness goes from Ч to Ш. Thus, a soft Ш sound appears in Russian. We reach now a correct but old-fashioned pronunciation of Щ: a special soft Ш + (a normal Russian soft) Ч.

    And finally, the Щ cluster undergoes another assimilation: the soft Ч affricate (inside the Щ cluster) looses its stop component and becomes another soft Ш. Thus, we reach the point where Щ is a long soft Ш.

    Note: Pronouncing Щ аs a long hard Ш is not correct. If you cannot articulate a soft Ш, use your hard Ш + Ч (any kind of CH) instead.

    Remark: The same Щ sound is met in some words where it is written as СЧ: счастье etc.
     
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    xjm

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    The "fresh cheese" example is often given to Russian students as the be-all end-all of pronouncing the consonant, but the problem is, my dialect at least pronounces this phrase in a way that's quite unlike the pronunciation of Щ, at least as I hear it when I listen to Russian speakers. The sh ch ends up being much harder and does not have the same effect on the following vowel.

    Christo Tamarin's explanation definitely helps me understand the phonetics (and phonetic history) much better.

    From one anglophone Russian student to another, I'd focus on the softness of Щ as explained by Christo Tamarin.
     

    vox05

    Senior Member
    Russia, Russian
    Interesting. So your tongue-tip position is in the same position for both the hard and soft version, and the only difference with Щ is that it is palatized and perhaps lengthened a little? (Sorry for asking such a fussy question, but I have always had trouble with these two consonants.)
    No. In case of 'щ' the tip is behind (near) the upper alveolar ridge, so that the whole front part of the toungue is near the hard palate. The length of the sound matters much less (imho).
     
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