V and W pronunciation
Before I started on the course I had read some about Ukrainian pronunciation, in particular в, since it is often written in English as W, but can be pronounced numerous different ways. I'm not a linguist so I didn't read much that stuck with me.
However when I started the course, I quickly remembered that sometimes в is pronounced differently depending on context. For instance, when the reader says "ви", I hear something like "vw(ee)". On the other hand, when the reader says "він", I hear something like "v(een)".
Wikipedia says that "the pronunciation of /w/ varies depending on context; it is labial before back vowels and labiodental before front vowels. It is also vocalized to [u̯] in the syllable coda." Again, I'm not a linguist so I don't really know what those terms mean, and searching around the internet quite a bit didn't help.
So here's a few basic / blunt questions: - Is one of these much more common than the other? - Is there an easier rule to use to know which way to pronounce it (easier than back vowels versus front, etc)? - Or if there isn't a good rule, could someone describe the typical syllables featuring в, and how they are pronounced? - For a specific example (which I happen to be very curious about), how are Ukrainian patronymic Vs / Ws pronounced?
I realize these questions may not have simple answers, but hopefully they can help be build some intuition. I am really enjoying the course and very much appreciate any assistance!
Pronunciation of в can vary, but the general rule with standard Ukrainian pronunciation, as I understand it, is this: в sounds like "v" before a vowel, but it sounds like a "w" before a consonant or at the end of a word. Thus, він/вона/вони sound like vin/vona/vony. But авто (car) sounds something like "aow-to" and Станислав (Stanislaus) sounds like "Stanyslaw."
I've noticed a tendency among Western Ukrainians and those in the Diaspora to pronounce в as "w" when other Ukrainians pronounce it as "v," notwithstanding the foregoing rule. Two examples come to mind. Львів (city in Western Ukraine) and дівчина (girl/girlfriend). I've heard the first word as L'viv and L'viw, and the second as both divchyna and diwchyna.
As for your question about how ви sometimes sounds, I think that's less about в and more about и. If you're hearing what I think you're hearing, the same phenomenon can occur with ми depending on the speaker. I'm not a linguist, but I think this is the result of Russification. ви is being pronounced closer to вы, which is the Russian translation of the same pronoun. ы doesn't exist in Ukrainian.
Edit: This post isn't strictly wrong (afaik) so I'll leave it intact. However it's worth noting that a lot of Ukrainian dialects, including the Kyiv dialect, say the letter в as /ʋ/ in all situations. For the sake of simplicity and being understood, it's probably a good idea for the average student of Ukrainian to do the same. I explain what /ʋ/ means in this post.
- Wikipedia says that "the pronunciation of /w/ varies depending on context; it is labial before back vowels and labiodental before front vowels. It is also vocalized to [u̯] in the syllable coda." Again, I'm not a linguist so I don't really know what those terms mean, and searching around the internet quite a bit didn't help.
Characters with brackets or forward slashes around them indicates IPA, the international phonetic alphabet. What this is saying is basically saying before (cyrillic) а, о, у you pronounce it like an English W (IPA /w/), and before и, е, і you pronounce it like an English V but without actually touching your lip to your teeth (IPA /ʋ/). I'll talk about that more later. The last part about the coda just means it's pronounced like a U/W if it's at the end of a word, [w] and [u̯] are the same thing as far as you're concerned. Of course, there are exceptions to all this.
To add onto the quote that you had: “/w/ is most commonly bilabial [β̞] before vowels but can alternate with labio-dental [ʋ] (most commonly before /i/). It is also vocalized to [u̯] before consonant at start of word, after vowel before consonant and after vowel at end of word.” /i/ is the “ee” sound in “read” and the Ukrainian letter і. Don't worry about the other symbol, it's basically /w/ as well.
Pronouncing в the same as an English V (IPA /v/) is seen as a mistake, an accent, or a dialectical difference. For example, you're more likely to hear /v/ in Eastern Ukraine where Russian is more predominantly spoken because в corresponds to /v/ in Russian.
- Is there an easier rule to use to know which way to pronounce it (easier than back vowels versus front, etc)?
Rule of thumb: Pronounce it as /w/ if it's the last letter of a word or before a consonant and /ʋ/ elsewhere. To pronounce /ʋ/:
-Narrow the vocal tract at the place of articulation, but not enough to produce a turbulent airstream. (Translation: make it more like a W than a V. A turbulent airstream is how you make a fricative, which is a type of consonant that includes the English V, Z, SH and the Ukrainian х. /ʋ/ is not a fricative.)
-It is articulated with the lower lip and the upper teeth.
-It is voiced, which means the vocal cords vibrate during the articulation. (Make a V sound and an F sound. V is voiced, F is not, feel the vibration when you say V. Same deal for Z and S, D and T, etc.)
- Could someone describe the typical syllables featuring в, and how they are pronounced?
Львів: /lʲʋiu̯/, listen here https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/88/Uk-%D0%9B%D1%8C%D0%B2%D1%96%D0%B2.ogg
Любов /lʲubɔu̯/, listen to the recording by Takuboku http://forvo.com/word/%D0%BB%D1%8E%D0%B1%D0%BE%D0%B2/#uk
Він /ʋin/, recording by Rocksolan http://forvo.com/word/%D0%B2%D1%96%D0%BD/#uk
- For a specific example (which I happen to be very curious about), how are Ukrainian patronymic Vs / Ws pronounced?
What do you mean by patronymic V and W?
I hope this was all clear, if you have any more questions feel free to ask. Basically, I would say if you want an authentic sounding Western accent stick with /w/ and /ʋ/. I spent a long time figuring this out myself and I'm still not 100% sure of this because there's so much variation between accents and so little written about it.
Okay, whew, that's a lot to take in. Thanks though, it is very helpful. What I think I need is an IPA word audio reader, though there doesn't appear to be any I can find. I'm having trouble hearing the difference between /β̞/ and /ʋ/ and /v/ - but that probably is because I am a native English speaker and those sounds don't get used much / distinguished between in English. I realize trying to transliterate this into English may not be constructive, but sometime it helps if it can be done, since that is my main point of refernce. I feel like the usage is sort of like a 'vw' sound, but then sometimes I hear it more as 'bw' or just 'v'.
Listening to the different pronunciations of different words on forvo from around Ukraine is really fascinating, regardless.
Re: patronymics - according to wikipedia again, female patronymic suffixes are either "-івна (-ivna) or -ївна (-yivna)" and the male suffix is -ович "(-ovych)". So according to the above suggestions, в would sound more like a 'w' for females, and more like a 'v' for males. Is that about right?
Hi again! Sorry for the long wait, I actually just got back from a month of study in Kyiv. Something that I learned while in Ukraine: in my post I mentioned that the things I said correspond to a Western accent. What I didn't realize was that the whole word final /w/ thing is very Western sounding and while widespread, not as widespread as I had thought. A lot of dialects, such as the Kyiv dialect, realize the letter в as /ʋ/ and only /ʋ/. So they say Lviv as /lʲʋiʋ/, любов as /lʲubɔʋ/, etc. I think my confusion came from the fact that I heard the word final /w/ in a lot of the Ukrainian songs, so I assumed it to be more common than it really is. Turns out I just listen to a lot of Western singers! Anyways I've edited my post to reflect that.
>I'm having trouble hearing the difference between /β̞/ and /ʋ/ and /v/
I usually do too. I'm a native English speaker as well, so unless they're pronounced clearly my brain assimilates them all together. The only reason I could pick out /ʋ/ in Kyiv was because my Ukrainian teacher spoke very clearly and I could notice the slight difference, so I started noticing it in the speech of others as well.
For patronymics I'm not sure. Since it isn't word final I don't know how івна would be pronounced, but like I said above /ʋ/ is perfectly fine so if you're not sure just say /iʋna/ and /oʋɪt͡ʃ/.