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Lesson Transcript

Yura: Pronunciation Series Lesson 1. Basic Bulgarian Consonant Sounds. Welcome to operation series at BulgarianPod101.com!
Iva: Как сте?.
Yura: In this lesson we are going to start with the basics and slowly work our way up.
Iva: That’s right. First we’ll talk about what Bulgarian sounds are made off.

Lesson focus

Yura: Now, Bulgarian has many sounds compared to other languages.
Iva: There are 20 consonants, 6 vowels, 2 semivowels and 2 compound sounds.
Yura: Right. And Bulgarian is made up of syllables. There are many types of syllables and they each require at least 1 vowel. Most of the types of syllables consist of 2 or more consonants and a vowel. Can we hear an example word of this type of syllable?
Iva: For example, дом. It means “home”.
Yura: So, there are 2 consonants and 1 vowel between them in this word. We also have types that consist of many consonants and a vowel. Can we hear an example with this type of syllable?
Iva: Sure! сфинкс. It means “sphinx”.
Yura: So, this one is made up of 2 syllables, but this time we have a consonant-consonant-vowel syllable “сфи” followed by a consonant-consonant-consonant syllable “нкс”. There is another example of such type which only contains a vowel. Can we have an example with it?
Iva: Here is a good one! Страх. It means “fear”.
Yura: Now we have the first syllable: consonant-consonant-consonant-vowel syllable “стра”. It is followed by the syllable with only one consonant “х”. Finally, we have 1 vowel plus 3 consonants syllables. Can we hear an example of that?
Iva: Certainly! We have бряг which means “shore”.
Yura: See, the first syllable, “бря” has consonant-consonant-vowel structure. The second syllable is yet another consonant only syllable with a consonant “г”. OK. Now, let’s start to look at the individual consonants and how to produce them.
Iva: Sounds like a good idea! And, remember, we are only going over the consonants right now plus the semivowel.
Yura: That’s right! First we have б which is pronounced much like “b” in English. “b” as in “bus”.
Iva: Next, we have в which is pronounced much like “v” in English. В.
Yura: That’s right! As in “very”.
Iva: Next, we have г which is much like the English “g”.
Yura: After that we have д which is the equivalent to the English “d” in “dog”.
Iva: Then we have ж which is pronounced a little different from the “j” in English. More as the “s” in the word “leisure”.
Yura: Yes, and you pronounce it when it appears at the end of the words, too. Like in the word кураж which ends in ж and means the same as the English “courage”. Next, we have з which is pretty much the same as “z” in English.
Iva: Then we have к which is much like the English “k”.
Yura: Then we have л, м and н are in the same group much like their counterparts in English. So, I won’t comment the further. What’s the next sound?
Iva: п. Again, is the same as the English “p” although the next sound looks like it.
Yura: All right, that is complicated! We have р which is like the “r” in English. You have to be careful!
Iva: Following that, we have с which is much like the English “s” although it looks like a “c”, after which we have т which is much like the English “t”.
Yura: And then we have ф and х which are exactly like the English “f” and “h”. Do not mistake the second one for an English sound “x”. It is pronounced as х as in “heart”.
Iva: Next come ц and ч which are like the English combination of sounds “ts” and “ch”.
Yura: Yes, as in “fits” and “check”.
Iva: Well, are there more of these combinations?
Yura: Yes, we also have ш and щ which are like the English sounds “sh” and “sht” in words like “shut” and “shtick”.
Iva: However, there is one more combination of sounds in Bulgarian that is not a separate letter in the half of it what is very exactly equivalent of the English sound “j”.
Yura: That’s right! It is composed of two consonants дж as in “job” or “John”.
Iva: Is that all?
Yura: We have left the semivowels.
Iva: Yes. й (и-кратко) and ь (ер-малък).
Yura: Exactly! They’re a little bit difficult because usually both are combined with о. It depends on the word which uses them.
Iva: Yes, it depends on the word which uses them. й or ь.
Yura: But, we use them with other vowels like о to make this vowels sound softer.
Iva: For example, they form a sound like йе or йо, respectively as in “yes” or “yoyo”.
Yura: Yes. And, finally we have?
Iva: The compound sound ю and я. They’re made by the combination of two sounds “y” plus “u” and “y” plus “a”.
Yura: So, these sounds as in the English “menu” and “yarn”.
Iva: You can hear the ю in “menu” and я in “yarn”. These are the letters made by compound sounds in Bulgarian.
Yura: Wow! So, Iva, can you pronounce the word for “sure” again?
Iva: бряг
Yura: Notice how Eva does not pronounce the г at the end as a “g”, but more like a “k”. That is how the pronunciation in Bulgarian changes according to the place of the consonant in the word.
Iva: Also, the stress in the words can change its position according to the form of the word.
Yura: Yes. These words which change their meaning depending on the stress.
Iva: Yes, but don’t worry.
Yura: With these pronunciation lessons we’re going to give you tips how to learn and master the Bulgarian pronunciation.
Iva: Right!


Yura: Make sure to practice this over and over until you really to get to hang them. The best way to improve pronunciation is to practice.
Iva: So, keep practicing!
Yura: And see you next time at Bulgarianpod101.com.
Iva: Ciao!