In Science By Lily

How NOT To Do a Russian Accent? Top 7 mistakes in pronunciation

«Accents are fun» — this phrase can be heard very often, especially from Americans. «It makes you unique, adds charm» — repeat with one voice. And all would be nothing if not an interesting fact. The main cause of misunderstanding between native speakers and language learners are not grammatical incorrectness or lack of vocabulary and pronunciation. Today we try to understand some of the most popular mistakes that allow the Russian-speaking people in communicating in English.

Here I would like to add that I have helped to compile this list of numerous video tutorials on the topic of «How to do a Russian accent», which is full internet access. Typically, these videos are very stereotyped. However, despite the exaggeration, some of them point to a problem that really occurs. So, Top 7 mistakes in pronunciation.

Sound [l]

Most Russian speakers use in their speech dark l, as in the word pull or full. But the fact is that many people do not realize that there are two different sounds — the so-called dark l and light or clear l. The transcription they are designated the same, but the difference in pronunciation exists. Articulating light l, make sure the tip of the tongue to touch the seat in front of the upper teeth, and lips were relaxed and stretched into a half smile. When dark l language slightly lowered, and the tip is moved a little further away from the upper teeth in comparison with light l. You may find it easier to articulate exactly dark l, if you are slightly rounded lips. On the Internet you can find many videos where native speakers are desperately trying to explain this difference. But if the reasoning is quite simple, dark l deeper than light l. Light l occurs usually at the beginning of a syllable, whereas dark l — in the end.

Sounds [v] and [w]

To begin with, it’s two different sounds that can not be confused. When pronouncing w lips need cvernut tube. When reprimanded v, must «bite» themselves for the lower lip. Try to listen to the words of west and vest in online dictionaries, and to tell the difference.

[θ] and [ð]

Well, where do without notorious [θ] and [ð]. From school we are taught that the pronunciation of the sounds of language to be displayed between the teeth and the outside. If you want to check whether you pronounce these sounds, or just work out, there is one old, but reliable exercise. Take a piece of paper and keep it at a distance of 10 centimeters from his face. When the pronunciation of [θ] and [ð] paper must move. By the way, this exercise is also great for training sounds t, p, k. We often forget about the pronunciation of aspirated sound data, and it gives us. If these sounds you will be aspirated, the paper must also move.

End ing

A lot of people did not hesitate to pronounce the end of it like [ing]. But we must not forget that the sound of g in the end ing is not pronounced, so it is read as [ɪŋ], where ŋ — velar nasal sound. When pronouncing this sound mouth wide open and tongue touches the lower teeth. It should exhale through the nose. Perhaps the following simple method will be useful to you: try to imagine as if you have a runny nose and say the sound [n]. Nasal [ŋ] is also found in front of the sound k. Pay attention to the pronunciation of the following words (listen online or Lingvo dictionary) think, playing, sink, checking.

The sound [r]

Among English speakers, who are trying to learn Russian accent is very popular reception titled «rrrolling R». Here is a hint of vibration that occurs when the pronunciation of Russian p. In English, the sound [r] it is absent. When pronouncing it, make sure that the language was drawn to the middle of the palate, but not touching it.


In Russian, there is no difference between long and short vowels. Therefore, the Russian-speaking people often ignore this distinction. But the words leave and live, short and shot, and so on. D. Different is the length of the sound. For a long sounds in English are [i:], [ɔː], [u:], [a:], [æ], [ε:]. For short — [ɪ], [o], [u], [Λ], [e], [ə].

Listen, for example, those words. On the left — long sounds right — their shorter counterparts. Notice the difference, and practice self-pronounce words.

  • Beat [biːt] — Bit [bɪt]
  • Sport [spɔːt] — Spot [spot]
  • Pool [puːl] — Pull [pul]
  • Cart [kɑːt] — Cut [kʌt]
  • Pack [pæk] — Peck [pek]
  • Prefer [prɪ’fɜː] — Better [‘betə]

But our problems do not end there, as in English, there are also diphthongs (combinations of vowels are pronounced as one word). Among the most difficult for the Russian-speaking person to learn English, [əu] and [ɛə]. Practice the pronunciation of the following words:

  • Phone [fəun]
  • Goat [gəut]
  • Old [əuld]
  • Tone [təun]
  • Pair [peə]
  • Square [skweə]
  • Fair [feə]
  • Care [keə]


And even more important than the pronunciation of individual sounds is the intonation.

The melody of the English language is very different from the Russian. For example, the ascending and descending tone in English is more vigorous, perhaps this is why we are alien to Russian roots may seem monotonous to a native speaker.

In one video, for those who want to buy thick russian accent, I followed the advice «Enunciate every word», which means — clearly pronounce each word. The problem is that in Russian we really stand with the help of the phrasal stress almost every word. But the English are allocated only remarkable part of speech: verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, numerals, pronouns (except for personal and possessive). Thus, modal and auxiliary verbs, articles, prepositions, conjunctions, particles and the aforementioned pronouns — unstressed, they do not need to allocate in the sentence. For example, I am happy to see all of you here. Instead, I am happy to see all of you here. By the way, unstressed often pronounced together with shock.

Also among the most popular mistakes in pronunciation is a «stretching of syllables.» Again, the reason is that the rate of speech in Russian and English is different. And besides, begins to talk in English, do it slowly, leaving yourself time to think. In general, the tone is quite capacious topic, if you want to know more, you can find more information on the Internet, including on our website.

All of my examples from the article, as well as more detailed explanations, you will find a video of the teacher engvid Benjamin. He tried not only to describe the typical mistakes, but also to train them for specific examples. By the way, it would be very useful if you pause the video and repeat the words with a native speaker. First there will be a bit strange and even funny, but the main thing for us — it is the habit of pronouncing each sound exactly as it should.

The question that most likely originated from you after reading this article — «How to deal with these multiple challenges?». The situation was really disappointing for our grandparents and even our parents, who tried to master English. After all, they had only read the most unintelligible explanation in textbooks on phonetics of how, for example, has to bend the language and where the air passes in the pronunciation of a sound. Undoubtedly, such explanations are sometimes also useful to read! But without the constant «contact» with the correct pronunciation of his master secrets it would be quite difficult. Now, in order to hear the English language, does not even need to go abroad. On the Internet you can find a variety of movies, TV series and a variety of videos in English and choose exactly what you’re wondering. The main thing is to listen to it carefully, especially now that you know what to look out for in the first place. Combine business with pleasure, and I wish you success in improving the pronunciation!



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