Strange Russian letter...that you almost never see.
So I read this word "Объект" and it has this strange letter that is almost never seen "ъ".
Now I know "Объект" means "Object". But I thought it was written "Обжект" or something. Apparently not. It is written with this rare "ъ" which I don't know how to use.
Does anyone know what this letter is? It is almost never there in those "Learn Russian Alphabet 101" type lessons either. And I don't remember learning this letter at duolingo also.
The letter ('hard sign") is used to signal that the preceeding consonant is not palatalised by я, е, ю, ё that follow it, and that the vowel letters get their initial Й when pronounced.
In the modern language it is only used between a consonant-ending prefix (or a first part of a compound) and a root beginning with a vowel: съесть, подъезд, объяснять, объём, разъём, съём, подъём, съехать, подъехать, двухъярусный, четырёхъязычный etc.
Some nouns of foreign origin have it between the prefix and the root, too, even though such nouns, strictly speaking, have no constituent parts in Russian: объект, субъект, конъюнктивит.
- the consonant can still be platalised if the prefix ends in С or З.
So why is ест not written as ъест ?
Is it the rule that the first letter of any word is always "hard", for "hard" within the word, you use the "hard" sign ъ ?
е, ю, я, ё are assumed to produce йэ, йу, йа, йо sounds by default. If you see them directly after a consonant they palatalise it (when it is possible). Which is also a spelling convention (it is possible to create a spelling system that works differently).
In modern spelling, Ъ is only used to separate a prefix (or a first part of a compound) ending in a consonant from the following iotated vowel. Ь and Ъ used to represent short vowels but that was a very, very long time ago. It also explains why before the 1917 Revolution "hard" consonants at the end of the word were always followed by a Ъ: about 800 years ago the word would end in a short vowel instead.
You surely know that some consonants are pronounced as palatal when followed by я, ё, ю, и, е. You put this letter between the consonant and the vowel in case you don't want it to sound palatal. That's why it is pronounced as "обйэкт" and not as "об'ект". Sorry for not using IPA :)
Yet there are so many words where it would really help to use this letter but it's not used there? I can't think of any examples of that right now (I'm only learning Russian, remember)...
ъ does not make a sound. It literally translates to "hard sign". Its purpose is to separate syllables. Ь is the other Russian letter that does not make a sound, and is the "soft sign". This puts syllables together.
How exactly does Ъ separate syllables in съел? Which syllables are put together in боль and бьёт by the soft sign (Ь)?
Sorry, but it's hard to explain, and is kind of something that you need to pronounce to understand. съел would be pronounced like c-ъел, and if ь is at the end of a word, like in боль, the л would come up at the end, and instead of sounding like bowl, in the back of the throat, the end of the word would be at the front of the throat. With бьёт, if there was no ь, it would sound like byot, but because it has the soft sign, you would put the "y" sound and the "o" sound in "byot" together, and it would sound more like båt. Sorry, it is kind of hard to explain, but it is hard to do it without pronouncing it. Sorry I couldn't be more clear.
With the 'hard sign', the sounds or sound before the sign are separated from the sound or sounds after the sign. Instead of saying it all together, it is as if they are two different words. With the 'soft sign', you would raise your tongue to the roof of your mouth when you say the word. Sorry I do not explain it well. It is hard to do without pronouncing it. Here is a video that explains it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHqgW9YS1aY Click CC for captions. I hope that helps.
Actually in school we were taught it as "separating" hard sign separating the consonant from following vowel- surely you realize that бёт reads differently from бьёт. https://orfogrammka.ru/%D0%BE%D1%80%D1%84%D0%BE%D0%B3%D1%80%D0%B0%D1%84%D0%B8%D1%8F/%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%B7%D0%B4%D0%B5%D0%BB%D0%B8%D1%82%D0%B5%D0%BB%D1%8C%D0%BD%D1%8B%D0%B5_%D1%8A_%D0%B8_%D1%8C/