Russian/Appendix/Signs

Signs in RussianEdit

Russian language has two unusual letters. They are called hard sign and soft sign (твёрдый знак and мягкий знак in Russian). The hard sign looks like a ъ, and the soft sign looks like a ь.

The hard signEdit

The hard sign designates a [j] sound (the letter й in Russian), though most people think that it doesn't designate this sound. They think that it only separates the first part of the word from the second. This letter always comes after letters е, ё, ю, я and always after consonants. In Russian words it stands between the root and the prefix. For example, the word подъезд (entrance). The transcription of this word is [podjézd]. If there was no hard sign, it would be подезд [podézd]. As can be seen, there is a difference. Later on, we will return once more to the hard sign.

The soft signEdit

The soft sign softens the preceding consonant and by itself doesn't designate the sound. But sometimes it combines its pronunciation and the hard sign's pronunciation. For example, the word семья (family). The transcription of this word is [sem'já]. If there wasn't the soft sign, it would be семя [sem'á] - seed. If it combines its pronunciation and hard sign's pronunciation it is called separating. If it doesn't combine, it is called softening.

Other pronunciation of the hard signEdit

In words that came to Russian language from foreign languages the hard sign's pronunciation is the same as the separating soft sign. For example, the word адъютант [ad'jutánt] - adjutant. In this word the hard sign doesn't stand between the root and the prefix.