Pronunciation of е in different words

Russian Language Asked by undergrad2020 on October 4, 2021

So from what I have learnt so far, нет is pronounced "nyet" and Привет is "privyet". But in телефон it is "telefon", why is е used in this case and not э and why is it not pronounced "tyelyefon"?

I’m really new to learning Russian so simpler answers will be much appreciated 🙂

One Answer

All of the "pronunciations" you quote are just rough renderings of Russian pronunciation using English spelling and are all about equally wrong. Perhaps you should look at the IPA of those words:

The superscript j indicates the softness of the preceding consonant and is not a separate sound. E.g. these are two distinct words:

  • сел [sʲel] (sat)
  • съел [sjel] (ate)

As to why some e's are pronounced [e] and some [ɪ], those are effects of vowel reduction in unstressed syllables.

Correct answer by Sergey Slepov on October 4, 2021

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