Ш, Щ и Ж
I have been able to read and write the (Russian) Cyrillic alphabet now for about eight months, but I still struggle to produce some sound with some sounds, especially hushes, even trough reading them isn’t a problem for me.
I have always assumed that the letter Щ represents a alveolo-palatal fricative [ɕ] or [ɕ;], like the k in the Swedish word for ‘skirt’: kjol [ɕu:l]. This sound isn’t a problem for me any more. I have also always assumed that Ш represents a voiceless postalveolar fricative [ʃ], just like sh as in ‘sheep’ or ‘ship’ and that that Ж represents the voiced postalveolar fricative [ʒ], like the s in ‘vision’.
Recently, it has come to my knowledge that this might not the the case and that they maybe are pronounced like retroflex fricatives instead of postalveolar ones: [ʂ], as in the Swedish word fors, and [ʐ] respectively.
How would you say Ш and Ж are pronounced? Are they postalveolar, as I first was though, or retroflex? In the former case, how would describe the pronunciation of these two consonants?
Also, I have been struggling with hearing the difference between Ш and Щ. I can produce them, it’s just that in my native language, Swedish, there is no [ʃ]-sound (which is represented by Ш), only a [ɕ]-sound, and in the other languages I speak, German, English and (some) Turkish, there is no [ɕ]-sound, only I [ʃ]-sound. Thus, I have never had to hear the difference between them. What is the Russian minimal pair that distinguishes between Ш and Щ?
Thank you for responding. Спасибо для вашего ответа! I really think that minimal pair is going to help.
EDIT: Спасибо за ваш ответ, Gwenci, и простите за грамматикаческую ошибку!
The best way to pronounce Ш, would be to place your tongue in the same position as an American English R (which is retroflex) and make an English "sh" sound. You just made a Ш sound
A good tip, actually! Спасибо! Since writing this post, I have actually found that they’re is a Ш sound in Swedish too.
Another thing to know is that Ш and Ж are never palatalized, even before Е, Ё, И, Ь, Я, they still sound like "шэ, шо, шы, ш, ша" and the same with Ж. The /ʒ/ sound basically doesn't exist in Russian, except in dialects such as Moldavian Russian.