k, n, t - pronunciation

Discussion in 'Čeština (Czech)' started by StoSlovJeNeniDost, Nov 24, 2013.

  1. StoSlovJeNeniDost New Member

    New Zealand
    English - New Zealand
    I have only started learning Czech, and I don't know a second language. I'm trying to improve my vocabulary before I worry too much about grammar, tenses, genders, etc., so my main concern is pronunciation.

    I understand the abeceda rules, but I learned three pronunciation rules this weekend which made me curious what others I should be aware of:

    - a 'k' followed by a consonant is pronounced as a 'g' (making 'kde' ('where') 'gde', the same as in Ruština ('где'). (I don't know Russian, I only know this from enjoying Russian music)

    - an 'n' followed by an 'i' is not a 'nee' sound but... more like 'ně' (?).

    'nikdy' (never) being an example of both rules.

    - the third rule I don't comprehend: a 't' followed by an 'i' sounds--to me--like the English word 'key', but my Czech flatmate who is helping me to learn insists this is not what I should be hearing.

    any help correcting these, explaining them better, [...] would be greatly appreciated.

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 24, 2013
  2. Hrdlodus

    Hrdlodus Senior Member

    d, t, n have the same rule for letter i.
    If they are followed by a letter i, they are pronounced as ď, ť, ň. (Your flatmate must pronounce for you.)

    You can pronounce k as k. But it is more comfortable as g. But you don't need have so perfect pronouncing, so (if you try say it again and again and again) you will hear, you are pronouncing [gde]. (Again, your flatmate can pronounce both variants [kde] and [gde].)
  3. francisgranada Senior Member

    A "k" followed by a consonant is generally not pronounced as "g", e.g. který, klepat, křehký ... In some positions it may become "spontaneousely" voiced (k>g) as in kde, but I don't thing it's really important to care about.
  4. 123xyz

    123xyz Senior Member

    Skopje, Macedonia
    It is not about 'k' being followed by a consonant; it is specifically about it being followed by a voiced consonant. The voiced articulation of the second consonant triggers voice assimilation, which is nothing unusual in many languages. Either way, I would not really call this a spontaneous change.

    In the example 'kde', 'k' is voiced because 'd', which comes after it, is voiced. However, this doesn't apply to sonorants (m, n, l, r...), since they don't distinguish voice, and to 'v', which generally behaves differently than other fricatives (in Slavic Languages in general; e.g. it generally lacks a voiceless counterpart except in loanwords, onomatopoeia, and words which include recent phonological developments, in many Slavic languages it is actually an approximant, etc...). As for the remaining voiced consonants, I can't imagine them co-occurring with 'k' very frequently, so I suppose that 'd' is the most significant consonant when we speak of 'k' becoming voiced. However, it is the principle of voice assimilation that really matters on the whole.
  5. bibax Senior Member

    Czech (Prague)
    The voiced-voiceless consonant pairs in Czech:

    b - p, (dz) - c, (dž) - č, d - t, ď - ť, v - (f), (g) - k, h - ch [x], z - s, ž - š
    (voiced x [gz] - voiceless x [ks], voiced ř - voiceless ř)

    The (pronounced) consonants dz, dž, g and f exist in Czech but they are rarely written except in loanwords, onomatopoeia, foreign names, ...
    Do not forget that the non-syllable preposition k can be followed by any consonant (except k, g) and is pronounced /g/ before a voiced consonant.

    e.g. k ďáblu /gď.../, k horám /gh.../, however k vodě is not pronounced /gv.../ but /kv.../ or rather /kw.../;

    N.B. k řece is pronounced /gř.../ with voiced ř, unlike křeče /kř.../ with voiceless ř; (not many Czechs are aware that there are two ř's)
  6. StoSlovJeNeniDost New Member

    New Zealand
    English - New Zealand
    hmm. I was under the impression that both 'v' and 'w' in the Czech abeceda were pronounced the same (as /v/), much like how Russian has no 'w'.
    What I had noted down from some website said:
    "v like 'v' in "victory"
    w like 'v' in "victor" (rarely used in Czech words, however used in German-originated proper nouns or words of Polish origin)"
    and the Wikipedia page gives the same impression, unless I'm misunderstanding
  7. bibax Senior Member

    Czech (Prague)
    It is a simplified view.

    It is true that the letters V and W are pronounced the same way. The German and Polish proper names like Weiss, Wagner or Wysocki are pronounced with /v/ (also acceptable for the English names: Watt is commonly pronounced /vot/ or /vat/).

    However the phonetic realization of the letter V (and W) also depends on the surrounding consonants. In such words like květ or dvě the pronunciation of V is different than in voda or káva. The Czechs are not aware of it as the difference is not phonemic, i.e. there are not such pairs like wine-vine, wise-vice, etc. We hardly hear a difference.

    The different realization of the letter V after the consonant /k/ is probably the main reason why we do not pronounce květ with voiced /g/ despite the fact that the consonant /v/ itself is voiced. Interestingly, in Polish the letter W (usually pronounced /v/) is pronounced /f/ after a voiceless consonant, e.g. twój /tfuj/.

    Important rule:

    In the consonant clusters all consonants from the above mentioned list (#5) are pronounced either voiced or voiceless.

    Examples: backhand /beghend/ - voiced /gh/, léčba /le:džba/ - voiced /džb/, leckdy /ledzgdy/ - voiced /dzgd/, podkova /potkova/ - voiceless /tk/, včas /fčas/ - voiceless /fč/, ....

    N.B. Czech /h/ is voiced.

    In English there is a similar phenomenon: beds /bedz/, but pets /pets/.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2013
  8. Hrdlodus

    Hrdlodus Senior Member

    Yes, we don't have w in our words. Or I don't know true Czech word with w.
    So we pronounce v and w like [v]. (I didn't even know, v and w (or victory and victor) are pronounced in english differently.)

    I can confirm bibax' words. I don't hear difference between "květ" and "káva".
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2013
  9. StoSlovJeNeniDost New Member

    New Zealand
    English - New Zealand
    the only difference is the 'y' (/ē/) at the end. I have no clue why they worded it thusly. Wikipedia avoids any bafflement by writing:
    V v /v/ void
    W w dvojité vé /v/ void
  10. bibax Senior Member

    Czech (Prague)
    From Wikipedia:
    The sounds [v] and [w] are distinct phonemes in English (vice vs. wise), but allophones of the phoneme /v/ in Czech. Native Czech speakers pronounce /v/ as [v] in voda but rather as an approximant (like English [w]) in dvě (květ, svět), treating them as a single phoneme and without being aware of the allophone distinctions they are subconsciously making.

    Similarly the sounds [n] and [ŋ] are distinct phonemes in English (ban [bæn] vs. bang [bæŋ]), but allophones of the phoneme /n/ in Czech. Native Czech speakers pronounce /n/ as [n] in noha but [ŋ] in banka, treating them as a single phoneme.

    Also the phoneme /ř/ has at least two phonetic realizations, voiced and voiceless (řeka vs. křeč; k řece 'to the river' is pronounced like gřece, not křece).
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2013
  11. kelt

    kelt Senior Member

    Prague, CZ
    Czech Republic, Czech
    That with [w] being pronounced in dvě (květ, svět) is rather questionable. Hard as I try, I do not hear [w] when I pronounce these words. On the other hand, I trust there might be words in Czech where [w] is realized, but not in these.

    I am afraid this language-gourmet haggling won't help much StoSlovJeNeniDost. Yet, it is interesting to know that there's a polling needed for certain aspects of the Czech language;-)
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2013
  12. wtfpwnage Member

    Learning pronunciation from a text is ridiculous.

    There is only one V sound in the Czech language and it sounds similar to the English V. When pronouncing the English V your upper teeth are almost touching your bottom lip which produces a sharper sound than the one you can found in Czech. Drop your teeth down a little bit and you will be able to pronounce it.

    Also the ř inřeka vs. křeč sounds the same as there is only one ř in the Czech language.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 9, 2013
  13. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Praha (Prague)
    magyar (Hungarian)
  14. Tchesko

    Tchesko Senior Member

    Paris 12
    "Sounds similar" and "sounds the same" are no absolute statements. What sounds similar / the same to an individual depends on the phonemes of his/her language.
    When I started to learn French, the words pré and près would sound the same to me because in Czech there is no such distinction between a "closed e" and an "open e". That doesn't mean there is only one "e" in Czech; the point is, whatever the way you pronounce the "e" in Czech, people will always interpret it as an "e" (unless it comes closer to another vowel of course).
  15. MamStrach Member

    Princeton, New Jersey
    Czech - Praha
    Please see Bibax's explanation regarding voiced and voiceless consonant pronunciation. Of course there is more than one V and Ř sound, don't you hear the difference,​wtfwnage?
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2014
  16. MamStrach Member

    Princeton, New Jersey
    Czech - Praha
    Also, beware of countless cases of aggravated mispronunciation where the correct "k" is replaced by "g" by illiterate ignoramuses, e.g. demo[g]racie, [g]ondolence, [g]olportér, [g]amaše, etc.

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