The "j" in jsem, jsi, jsme, jste, and jsou
I'm making progress and have just finished the "to be" lessons. Is it just how the computer voice says it, or is the "j" in all these words (except "je") almost silent? Should I be trying to say the "j"? And will there be other irregularities like this?
Most everybody "swallows" the "j" and only pronounces "sme", "sem", "si", etc. In case of "ja jsem" a lot of people still say the J. In case of "my jsme" hardly anybody outside of TV anchors does. Even when you make the effort to pronounce it, the "J" kind of gets lost in there... So what you hear is what you get.
It's not only in street Czech though, TV presenters, politicians and so on often don't say the 'j' as well. I was corrected many times at school not to say the 'j'. The rule is to pronouce 'j' to sound more refined and polite, but that counts mainly when 'jsem, jsme' etc. are used as 'to exist'.