Soft Consonants edit

Most consonants in Belarusian have two modifications: hard and soft.

Consonants are pronounced softly before y-vowels, е, ё, і, ю or я. In such a position (after consonsants) these vowels loose their й and pronounced as э, о, і, у or а respectively.

In English, something similar to "hard-soft" phenomenon also takes place. E.g., l in purple is more like Belarusian hard л while in please it is pronounced like soft л. But in Belarusian these modifications are considered as different phonemes, i.e. their mispronounciation may result in misunderstanding and word confusion.

бэз "bez" - lilac; без "biez" - without

лук "luk" - a bow; люк "liuk" - a hatch

Soft consonants are pronounced with your tongue moved up and forward relative to its position when pronouncing the hard sound. It is something like pronouncing an extremely short і sound after the consonant.

Ве́на "V(i)ena" - Vienna

вёска "v(i)oska" - a village

лю́стра (neuter) "l(i)ustra" - a mirror

The consonants дж, ч, дз, ц, ж, ш and р are always hard (зацвярдзе́лыя "zatviardielyya"). Consequently, дж, ч, ж, ш and р can never be followed by е, ё, і, ю or я.

The sound й is a soft sound, and it has no hard mate. As was already mentioned before, it can never be followed by a vowel.

L in Borrowings: Soft of Hard? edit

There is a remarkable difference between tarashkievitsa and narkamauka in spelling and pronunciation of a number of borrowed words. Such words having an l+vowel combination in the original language have hard л in narkamauka and soft л in tarashkievitsa.

Original Narkamauka Tarashkievitsa
club клуб клюб
plan план плян
colony кало́нія калёнія

However, li and le are transliterated as лі and ле in both variants.

In some borrowings, especially German and French, л is soft in both variants: люк a hatch, лю́мпен a lumpen, a social outcast element, лю́стра a mirror.

The word пала́ц (a palace) is spelled the same in tarashkievitsa (though it might be spelled as паляц according to this rule).

Soft Noun And Adjective Endings edit

Nouns ending by я (usually feminine), е or ё (neuter) in plural end by і.

до́ля a part, a share - до́лі

по́ле a field - палі

Note that neuter nouns ending by е can have a stressed ending in plural.

The plural і ending is also obtained by nouns ending by к, ка, г, га, х, ха.

рака́ a river - рэ́кі

даро́га a road - даро́гі

кніга a book - кнігі

саба́ка a dog - саба́кі

вёска a village - вёскі

чарапа́ха a turtle - чарапа́хі

бык a bull - быкі

выкла́дчык a lecturer - выкла́дчыкі

Soft adjective endings are as follows.

Masculine Neuter Feminine Plural
і яе яя ія
cіні blue cіняе cіняя cінія

If the ending of an adjective is preceded by к, г or х, its flexions are as follows.

Masculine Neuter Feminine Plural
і ое
(ае if unstressed)
ая ія
шыро́кі broad шыро́кае шыро́кая шыро́кія
ву́зкі narrow ву́зкае ву́зкая ву́зкія

Exercises edit

Pronunciation: Soft Consonants edit

Pronounce these words paying special attention to soft consonants.

Ве́нгрыя Hungary

Кіта́й China

вёска a village

лю́стра a mirror

Ме́ксіка Mexico (the country)

Ме́хіка Mexico (the city)

Фінля́ндыя Finland

Літва́ Lithuania

Gender edit

Make up three sentences with the given pair of words: "This is a <noun>"; "It/he/she is <adjective>"; This is a <adjective> <noun>". Take note that nouns and adjectives must be coordinated by gender, i.e. masculine adjectives are used with masculine nouns etc.

Sample: village, old: Гэта вёска. Яна старая. Гэта старая вёска.

(1) mirror, new

(2) field, broad

(3) road, narrow

(4) river, beautiful

(5) lecturer, young

Clue: (1) Гэта люстра. Яно новае. Гэта новае люстра. (2) Гэта поле. Яно шырокае. Гэта шырокае поле. (3) Гэта дарога. Яна вузкая. Гэта вузкая дарога. (4) Гэта рака. Яна прыгожая. Гэта прыгожая рака. (5) Гэта выкладчык. Ён малады. Гэта малады выкладчык.

Number edit

Transform all sentences from the previous exercise into plural.

Sample: village, old: Гэта вёскі. Яны старыя. Гэта старыя вёскі.

Clue: (1) Гэта люстры. Яны новыя. Гэта новыя люстры. (2) Гэта палі. Яны шырокія. Гэта шырокія палі. (3) Гэта дарогі. Яны вузкія. Гэта вузкія дарогі. (4) Гэта рэкі. Яны прыгожыя. Гэта прыгожыя рэкі. (5) Гэта выкладчыкі. Яны маладыя. Гэта маладыя выкладчыкі.

Translation edit

Translate into Belarusian.

(1) These are beautiful fields.

(2) These are young secretaties.

(3) Who is this? This is a dog. It is old.

(4) This is a new church.

(5) I am young.

(6) You are ill.

Clue: (1) Гэта прыгожыя палі. (2) Гэта маладыя сакратаркі (сакратары). (3) Хто гэта? Гэта сабака. Ён стары. (4) Гэта новая царква. (5) Я малады (маладая). (6) Вы хворыя.