Unfortunately not for these types of exercises. If you see the word come across in one of the listening exercises (where you listen and type what you hear), you can slow the TTS down by hitting the turtle button or pressing ctrl-shift-space.
I completely agree with you though. This TTS voice sounds like she is always in a rush to get the sentence out.
I'd love to get a native speaker's impression on whether the TTS pronounces sentences similar to a native speaker would or if the sentences seem rushed even to them.
That link is broken. This should work:
Having lived in Russia for a year, I found my listening comprehension horrible because the slow courses i'd been using gave me too much time to mentally think about each word. I'm really glad that duolingo is using a pace closer to natural speaking so I can practice with comprehending at native speaking speeds.
forvo might be more reliable than google translate in some cases: http://ru.forvo.com/search/%D0%B1%D0%BB%D0%B0%D0%B3%D0%BE%D0%B4%D0%B0%D1%80%D1%8E/ru/
In the android app, I touch each word separately rather than touching the speaker icon and it is somewhat slower as you can hear the pronounciation of each word separately. But I guess in doing so I am missing how the words sound together in a sentence. Also I read some comments on another sentence which stated something along the lines of the overlapping of the sound of the vowels of two consecutive words, eg. are you ivan?, referring to the ending of you - u - and the beginning of ivan - i.
bhankerson: I would say you are correct. Since the verb is conjugated in the first person singular, "I thank you" should be accepted. But in practice, we simply say "thank you" or "thanks." Further, the Russian version did not use the pronoun я for I. So I think the Duolingo translation is better.
"I thank you" is an accurate translation of the verb благодарю but the phrase "Yes, I thank you" isn't natural English. Since this is a Russian course it wouldn't hurt to accept your translation, but it's probably better to recognize that literal translations aren't always the best, and using the more natural "Yes, thank you" is a better answer.
Russian is a stressed based language, at least in pronunciation. As you know, an unstressed 'o' in Russian, makes an 'a' sound. Sometimes, an unstressed 'a' makes an 'e' sound. However it shouldn't sound like what you are describing, maybe the TTS is speaking too fast. Click here for native speaker pronunciations on Forvo.
For pronunciation questions I recommend Forvo; it's a special pronunciation dictionary and they tend to have any and all words across a ton of languages pronounced especially by native speakers. Here's the page for благодарю: https://forvo.com/search/благодарю/ It basically sounds like "blah-guh-dar-YOU".
Present tense conjugations are always the same regardless of the gender of the subject.
Благодаря is a different part of speech - it's formed from the same verb, but it means "thanks to" or "due to" (in a good way). For instance: благодаря новой технологии, компания экономит деньги (thanks to the new production processes, the company is saving money).
благодари́ть (blagodarítʹ) "to thank": Borrowed from Old Church Slavonic благодарити (blagodariti). Synchronically analyzable as бла́го (blágo) + -о- (-o-) + дари́ть (darítʹ).
бла́го (blágo) "good": Borrowed from Old Church Slavonic благо (blago). Displaced the inherited East Slavic form бо́лого (bólogo), from Old East Slavic болого (bologo), бологъ (bologŭ), from Proto-Slavic *bolgъ.
дари́ть (darítʹ) "to give, to present; to favour": дар (dar) + -и́ть (-ítʹ)
дар (dar) "gift, present; talent, aptitude": From Old East Slavic даръ (darŭ), from Proto-Slavic *darъ (“gift”), from Proto-Indo-European *déh₃rom (whence Albanian dhunti, “virtue, aptitude” and Ancient Greek δῶρον (dôron), "gift"), from *déh₃-r̥ + *-om. Related to Welsh dawn "talent", Latin donum "gift", Spanish dar "to give" and don "talent", French donner ("to give") and, of course, English "to donate".
Спасибо is slightly less formal (more like "thanks"), whereas благодарю is slightly more formal (like "thank you"). There isn't really a huge difference, though. Спасибо is a "safe" word - it's not gonna become offensive or condescending if you say it to a professor or your supervisor, and it's the more common way of saying "thank you" in general circumstances. Both can be used sarcastically - in that context, благодарить sounds a little more hoighty-toighty and more sarcastic in my opinion than just спасибо. If you want a very formal way of thanking someone, you could also выразить благодарность за что-то (Я хотел бы выразить благодарность за ваше понимание и сотрудничество).
@DakotaGodf2 - Спасибо is basically "Thanks".
Благодарю is the first person singular ("I") conjugation of the verb Благодарить, which is a more formal/polite way of saying "thank you". In a formal setting, you're more likely to encounter благодарить. It's a verb, so you can use it by itself in various contexts ("Он благодарил её за её работу" - "He thanked her for her work".)