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In Russian language unstressed vowels are shorter than stressed ones. Besides that, such vowels as А, О, Э and the vowels denoted as and ‘Е’, ‘Я’ change their pronunciation. In this lesson we will examine pronunciation of unstressed ‘a’.
Vowel Reduction: Unstressed А
As a rule, unstressed ‘a’ is similar to unstressed ‘a’ in English. That is, it’s articulated almost in the same way that the final ‘a’ in the word ‘Algeria’. We will denote this sound as ə:
рабо́та – rə-bó-tə
анана́с – ə-nə-nás
Although the ‘а’ preceding the stressed vowel is more clear and similar to [ʌ] (this sound is similar to the ‘u’ in ‘cup’), especially in slow speech. That's why it would be better to indicate the correct pronunciation in the following manner:
рабо́та – rʌ-bó-tə
анана́с – ə-nʌ-nás
But there are some exceptions: unstressed syllables ‘ЧА’ and ‘ЩА’ are pronounced as ‘ЧИ’ and ‘ЩИ’ respectively:
часы́ = чисы
щаве́ль = щиве́ль
But sometimes these mutations of the ‘а’ in unstressed syllable ‘ча’ and ‘ща’ don’t occur. Please, watch the video to get more information about this phenomenon and listen to the correct pronunciation of Russian words with unstressed ‘а’.