Thursday, March 16, 2017

Russian names - pronunciation

I know that Russian names are hard for non-native speakers to pronounce. Especially, when they try to read the names written in Latin letters. Russian, as you know, is written in Cyrillic alphabet and many Russian sounds simply can't be adequately expressed by Latin alphabet, because there are not enough letters. Russian alphabet has 33 letters versus 26 letters in English. In addition, one letter can represent several different Russian sounds depending on the position in the word, so you can see how it's tricky to write Russian names in English.
My first name - Liubov (Любовь means "love" in Russian) - gets butchered by non-native speakers all the time. Hebrew speakers often read it as LiObob, while English speakers have hard time pronouncing ю  and вь.
Sometimes, when English-speaking gymnerds talk about Russian gymnasts I have hard time understanding who they mean because the names become unrecognizable. Announcers at international competitions don't help much because they rarely pronounce the names correctly. Although, at the 2016 Euros at Bern they had a Russian speaker announcing Russian gymnasts, so that was pretty cool.

So, I decided to make recordings of the first and last names of Russian gymnasts (and also gymnasts of Russian origin who compete for other countries like Shatilov or Chusovitina).
It would be great to have a database where people could just click on a name and hear the pronunciation like on the UCLA website, but this platform, unfortunately, doesn't allow it.
So, for now, I recorded individual audio files for each gymnast and uploaded them to a public folder on You can listen online or you can download the files. If anyone can think of a better solution, let me know.
Since recording takes time, I will do it in parts. Today I made recordings for each female senior gymnast on the current national team and some extras (like Verniaev:).
I'll be adding juniors and men tomorrow.
If you have any specific names you want me to record, leave a comment.
Here's the link to the folder

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