Are the two names supposed to string together, phonetically, the way the audio is doing it? Or is the audio just poorly parsed? 'Cause it's pretty distinctly saying "Вы Верайвановна?" to my ear. Perhaps Russian normally does this when one word ends in a vowel and the following word begins in a vowel which are compatible with one another for gliding into each other? I know there are languages out there which do this.
Sorry for the wait.
Here is what happens acoustically when you compare post-tonic «а» + pre-tonic «и» to a single post-tonic diphthong «ай». Note the somewhat extended transition (which, admittedly, may appear with two vowels, too) and how the unstressed diphthong is half again as short as the two unstressed vowels (I read a few takes of both sentences, at approximately the same speed). At the very least, it is easy to see that а+и together are longer than the previous syllable (which is stressed), while the unstressed ай is about the same length at best.
Here is the audio containing the two fragments, in case you want to give it a try: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bwnv5yanxuG3QnhGRDl1R0o1WjQ/view?usp=sharing .
Of course, a native speaker would barely notice anything if you read it "Верайвановна" because the temptation for the interpretation to make sense is too strong. The sounds are not clear and long enough to guarantee that the listener registers that the speaker is, in fact, is saying gibberish.
Wow. How very detailed. Thank you. In your recording, I can clearly tell the difference between the two (where the first one has no diphthong, but the second one does). In the first rendition, where it lacks the diphthong, I can very clearly identify said lack. However, that being said, the second recording which does contain the diphthong is exactly what I'm hearing in the audio for this sentence here on Duolingo. Your first rendition is how I would have expected it to be pronounced (with the exception of the part where you leave out the -овна part. lol), but your second recording is what I'm actually hearing here, which is why I was confused. And the fact that I can clearly distinguish the lack of diphthong in your first recording without any problems leads me to conclude that I'm not simply mishearing it here on Duolingo, but rather that the audio here is imperfect. Either way, at least now I know for certain how it's supposed to be, regardless of how the audio presents itself here (or my perception of it, if nothing else). So thank you again for that. You went to great lengths to illustrate this, and I appreciate it. Take my lingots. =P lol
You are right, there is no syllable separation. The syllables simply follow one immediately after another. However, judging by its length, аи is two vowels (I don't think that at a natural speed the length of the transition is a reliable cue, and the formants are virtually identical).
«Вер» and «ван» are clearly stressed, whereas the sound combination in question has a lower pitch, somewhat less energy and a /ə/. Thus, the sound cannot be a stressed diphthong. But, being longer than a similar stressed vowel, it cannot be an unstressed one either, so it is interpreted as two vowels by native speakers.
Objectively, of course, the vowels do flow one into the other, especially when not read slowly. People are not robots, so some mininal time is needed to change the shape of the vocal tract. Here, you have about 0.4-0.5 seconds to pronounce 4 syllables (/vʲe̞rəɪvä/ — a ə might actually be an ɐ, depending on how you describe it). The resulting sounds might sound like diphthongs of some other language. Or not.
In the first two iterations, I don't hear a diphthong, but in the last two, I do. Or to rephrase, in the first two iterations, I hear it differently than the audio here on Duolingo, insofar as that the vowels are clearly separated into two syllables (albeit, still rather subtle), whereas in the last two iterations, I hear it like I do here on Duolingo, insofar as that I don't hear any syllable separation between the vowels in question.
Your ear is not yet trained. Objectively, the И at the beginning of Ивановска is clearly longer here than А at the end of Вера and less tense than a stressed И or a Й would be, so "ай" is unlikely. They would not be that different, though, so your main primary way to know what you hear shoukd be the lack of йв-starting words in Russian.
Thanks. I'll keep trying. And you're definitely right; my ear is not yet trained. Though I'd point out that I wasn't trying to suggest that there are any йв-starting words in Russian, including this one. As far as I know, if a Russian word starts with й, then it must be followed by a vowel. That's why I put the two names together as one word in my transcription. It sounded to me like it was being strung together as one word (in its pronunciation). If I were to use an English notation, I might've transcribed it Vyerive-ahnovna (I haven't been using the Latin notation version of this course; only the cyrillic. So I'm sure this notation probably doesn't reflect the way Russian is written in the Latin alphabet, but it's not trying to, anyway. I'm just trying to illustrate what I'm hearing is all.).
In response to the link you provided, there would be no glottal stop in "now eat", that's true. But there's still no diphthong being created between the two words. Although it would be impossible for that to happen anyway, since "now" ends in a diphthong to begin with, and a diphthong can't diphthongize into another diphthong. lol. Also, "now" doesn't end in an [ə] or an [ɑ], and not everyone of every dialect would insert that glottal stop of which I mentioned.
Although you seem to be contradicting yourself here, when you say "each vowel has its own syllable... the glide is rather short." If there is any glide at all (regardless of how short), then that means that there's a diphthong, because a diphthong is a glide, and if there's a glide, then that means it's only one syllable, not two. You can't have two vowels be two syllables and a glide, that's just not how it works. lol.
That's not what I hear here (which you can also check by looking at the waveform to see that there is no pause whatsoever between "now" and "eat").
No diphthong is created in Вера Ивановна: first, each vowel has its own syllable, and second, the glide is rather short. It pretty much takes the time required to comfortably reshape your vocal tract from /ə/ to /ɪ/.
бы is a particle that goes with a verb only. And it basically means "would":
Я бы хотела - I would like (polite way of asking) Он бы пошел - He would go
So the verb of an action with the particle means that thats something a person would do (in the future or in past) but didn't or won't necessary do. It makes the situation imaginery.
Oops. Thanks for your answer. It made me realize I made a mistake. I use to type "Б" when it should be "В". This, because on my keyboard (US) when using the the russian mapping, the roman "B" corresponds to the slavic "Б".
Also, thanks for the explanation of "бы" used as a particle denoting politeness. Appreciated. :)
Ы is really very,very difficult sound. In fact,existing languages should be divided in two groups- those who have and those who haven't it. I can hear a repercussion of it in Because (first e), but you have to strengthen it a lot. You'd better listen it,not trying to master reading...#))
I replay the normal audio as many times as it takes to drill the correct sound into memory. This can take far more than 5 repeats as I sometimes have to return to the audio, days, or even weeks later until I'm happy - more or less. But, repetition is the right approach.