RUSSIAN ACCENT TUTORIAL
How to Fake a Thick Russian Accent
Learning accents can be a great way to prep for language learning, as well as performing a role in which you have to use that accent. The Russian accent can be difficult because it involves some sounds and some orthography (spelling) that is unusual for English. By pronouncing words, modulating the cadence of your voice, and listening to native Russian speakers, you can begin to develop a passable Russian accent.
Roll your /r/.As with many European languages, the /r/ is rolled or trilled in Russian. So, when you are speaking English with a Russian accent, make sure you roll your Rs. Doing this consistently will make the accent sound more authentic. Don’t trill your /r/ for too long, as this will make the accent sound fake.
- For instance, when you say the word "very," you will roll the /r/. It may come out sounding like a "d" at first, but with practice you can get the rolling sound down.
Replace the sound /th/ with the sound /d/.So instead of saying "this," say "dis." If you do this, it will help enhance your thick Russian accent. Don't do this if you want to portray a lighter Russian accent. This is not true at the ends of words, as in Russian, consonants are not voiced at the ends of words. Instead pronounce /th/ as /t/. For instance, you would say, "cot" for the word "cod" (the fish) instead of "coth."
Pronounce ending consonant sounds /d/, /v/, and /z/, as /t/, /f/, and /s/.In Russian, the consonants at the ends of words are not voiced. You would pronounce 'breeze' as 'breese.' Doing this will make your accent sound thicker.
- For instance, "love" becomes "lof" and "clod" becomes "clot."
Pronounce the vowel sound used in words like "In" more like the vowel in "Seen"."I will make this thing bigger" would become "I weel make thees theeng beegger." This is because the long "i" vowel sound occurs infrequently in Russian, so a native Russian speaker who is new to English will be more likely to say "ee" instead of the long "i" sound.
Pronounce the short "o" sound in a clipped way.In English, the sound is a diphthong, and you actually pronounce the sounds of "o" and "u," though the latter is very soft. For instance the word "boat" becomes much shorter, more like "bote." As we don't use the sound in English often, it is important to listen to native speakers of Russian.
Pronounce initial /w/ as /v/ or vice versa.Because the /w/ sound is not frequent in Russian, it can be difficult for Russian ELLs(English Language Learners) to pick up. While a lot of people usually only change the /w/ to /v/, the error can go both ways. Therefore, a more passable accent should contain both types of errors. For instance, you could say, "Vere is my west?" for "Where is my vest?"
Modulating the Cadence and Tone of Your Voice
Pronounce stressed syllables with a higher pitch and for longer periods of time than in English.With stressed syllables ("stressed" in the word "distressed"), you should raise your pitch and lengthen the syllable just a bit. It shouldn't last forever, but should be noticeable to achieve the Russian accent.
Make your tone rise from the beginning and then fall at the end of declarative sentences.This is practically the opposite of intonation we have for questions (interrogative, not declarative sentences) in English where our tones are lower toward the beginning and higher toward the end. Practice this to help your overall speech sound Russian.
Slow down.As with most non-native speakers who are fairly new to speaking regularly, a Russian accent in English should be pronounced slower than a typical native English speaker. However, this shouldn’t be drawn out so that it becomes ridiculous, just slow enough that it emphasizes the accent.
Listening to Native Russians Speak English
Listen closely to the way they pronounce each sound.It can help to have a transcript to mark up, especially if you are learning the accent for a script. You may want to listen to the recording several times to pick up the specific sounds. You may only concentrate on the ‘s’ in one listening or you may focus on the vowels in another listening.
Mimic Russian cadence.Cadence, or the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables, affects the way an accent sounds as much as the individual letters. Without the right cadence, you may sound like someone from a completely different area. Take Tom Kaine’s impression of Donald Trump—he sounds nothing like Trump's New York accent.
Listen for tone.Tone can affect the way a sentence sounds as well. You can read about a tone should shift, but because of subtle differences between accents, it is important to hear it for yourself. Choose a recording or video with a lot of sentence variety so you can hear the way declarative, interrogative, and exclamatory sentences sound in a particular accent.
- In Russian, declarative sentences should be much more monotone than in English. Instead of emphasizing a word to give it meaning, such as "I do NOT want to go" (with all-caps represented heightened stress on a word," you would say "I do not want to go."
- For questions, the emphasis should fall on the word that is in question. For instance, instead of "Have you seen the new moVIE?," you would say, "Have you seen the NEW movie?" This can make the sentence seem rude to native English speakers.
Listen to a variety of Russian accents.Choose an accent that works for your character. Accents reflect not only region but class and historical period. For instance, in 19th-century Russia, the upper class was very familiar with French, and they often threw French terms into their dialogue. This kind detail will allow you to perfect an accent.
Watch a video.This will help you see the way a Russian moves their mouth when speaking English. Oftentimes it can be easy to ignore this facet, but it can make the difference between a convincing and an unconvincing accent.
QuestionHow do I pronounce "how" with a Russian accent?Dora3108Community AnswerDo it as if you are saying "ow,"' but only put a hint of the "h" there.Thanks!
QuestionDo I gargle my "r's" or do I do use the tip of my tongue?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerUse the tip of your tongue. If you begin to gargle r's, you'll sound like someone from Sweden or Norway.Thanks!
QuestionI don't know how to roll my 'R's! What can I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerWith any word that has the letter D, push the letter D on the top of your mouth and blow air out of your mouth. It should work.Thanks!
QuestionCan drinking vodka improve my Russian accent?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo, drinking vodka won't make your Russian accent better.Thanks!
QuestionI still can't roll my 'R's! What can I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerDon't worry, not everyone can. I'm sure the people in Russia will understand you.Thanks!
- A common mistake people make when trying a thick Russian accent is the sound the letter U usually makes in words like "cut". It should be pronounced like "caht" using the sound in "are".
- Talk lower, slower, and louder.
- Like "w", the Russian language has no "th" sound, either. So, many Russians compensate by saying "f", "d", or "v", instead.
- This is an awesome accent to use for prank calls.
- The vowel in "cat" sounds like the first one in "exit".
- In Russian, vodka is pronounced like "VOT-ka". Put an emphasis on the "vot", but it should be very short. Also the o is pronounced like the o in "photo", not like the o in "fought."
- Due to this accent slowing down your speach, and using clearer consonants, the Russian accent (like all Slavic accents) is strangely great for explaining difficult stuff or giving instructions.
- Try not to say vodka too much or you will sound too stereotypical.
- As a courtesy, refrain from attempting to emulate a Russian accent if someone who is known to be Russian is within earshot. While not a guarantee, they may be offended.
- Try only to emulate accents in a respectful way. This means a lot of practice, and not using it in a purely joking setting where the accent is meant to make fun of the people in question.
Sources and Citations
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Video: How To Speak With A Russian Accent
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