How many consonant sounds?

Andrey Kim
Andrey Kim
March 24, 2015
How many consonant sounds?

How many letters are in Russian? Almost everyone knows the answer to this question - 33. And how many sounds are there in Russian? This is a more difficult question! Let's see how many sounds in our language.

In Russian, as we have said, 33 letters, 21 of them are intended to denote consonants and 10 - for vowels (ь and ъ do not mean neither a vowel nor a consonant sound). Sounds in Russian 42:

  • 36 consonants ([б] - [б '], [в] - [в'], [г] - [г '], [д] - [д'], [ж], [з] - [з ' ], [st '], [k] - [c'], [l] - [l '], [m] - [m'], [n] - [n '], [n] - [n' ], [р] - [р '], [с] - [с'], [t] - [t '], [ф] - [ф'], [х] - [х '], [ц] , [h '], [br], [br']). At the same time [nd '], [h'] are always soft, []], []] are hard.
  • 6 vowels ([a], [o], [e], [s], [u], [y]).

It would seem, why everything is so strange? Why does not the number of consonant sounds and letters, or the number of vowels and letters match? Just some letters denote two sounds (they are called paired by hardness-softness, for example: [b] - [b ']), while others do not have a soft or hard sound (for example, [h] is always soft. Here, try saying [h ] firmly. Didn’t work? Rather, you had something like [j], but this is a different sound.

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