Actually, "e" is read "ye", but "э" is read like "e" in example or like "a" in apple, for example! :D Russians have:
я = "ya" е = "ye" ё = "yo" ю = "yu"
That "y" is used to "soften" the letter before, in some cases. That's why Russian is so difficult to people that speak non-Slavic languages.
e" is read "ye", but "э" is read like "e"
However, the phoneme /e/ has two variants (allophones):
- after soft consonants and /j/ (which is where «е» is usually written) a closer vowel variant is pronounced, more similar to Spanish e: [e]
- after hard consonants, vowels and in the beginning of word (where «э» is usually written), a more open variant is pronounced, closer to A in Accent: [ɛ].
This distinction is not important for Russian speakers, so we don't notice it, but it might be useful for foreigners. So what Vikipulka said is also true.
It's just two different ways of analysing it.
While in Russian we often pronounce double and single consonants in the same way, this audio does pronounce «нн» longer than «н».
It's always pronounced this way. In «это», э is the stressed syllable, and то is unstressed (we often mark this with an accent: э́то). Only stressed vowels are pronounced as written. Unstressed «о» sounds like «а».
No, it's definitely not Чим to a Russian speaker's ear. We might pronounce soft t like a soft variant of Ц (in fact, in a closely-related Belarusian Тим is even spelled with Ц, Цім; this doesn't cause confusion because Ц is always hard in Russian), but not as Ч.
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