[Ed Note: Last year during the Capitals Playoff run, Slava Malamud wrote an 800-word post about how to pronounce Russian Players names correctly for Capitals Insider. Problem was – after talking to RMNB groupmember Fedor Fedin (who resides in Moscow, Russia) – Slava wasn’t really doing the pronunciations justice. So today, with Fedor’s help, the Russian Machine is going to teach you how to say your favorite Russian Superstars names correctly. And yes, with wonderful, wonderful audio. Enjoy!]
One of the most frustrating things about being a fan of the Washington Capitals in Moscow is how much Americans mispronounce Russian Players’ names. Everybody does it! And a lot of the time, nobody has a clue they’re even doing it.
Do you know how many times I’ve heard «S-I-M-I-N» or «S-E-M-Y-O-N», and cringed? Let’s say more than a handful. But now it’s time for you to learn with my help.
First, let’s go over the phonetic foundation of the names. The Russian letter «ё» means «YO» if it’s the first letter in a word or it goes after a vowel. If it goes after a consonant it reads like a «soft O». The most similiar English sound is «ɜː» in the words «learn» or «burn». (Here’s some other English rhymes too.) If you know German, it’s not a problem for you at all. Just listen to it (this is word «König», German «King»):
Anyways, here’s what – «Semyon» sounds like in Russian:
And here’s the correct pronunciation of «Semin». As you can see, they sound very similiar. Thanks to the guy who pronounced it completely – «Alexander Semin»:
«Fedorov» uses this sound, too (completed pronunciation again!):
Here’s a few more pronounciation tips for other popular Russian NHLers:
- You might know this already, but it’s worth repeating if anyone out there doesn’t know. «Semin»- is from «Syoma», which is the short form of «Semyon».
- The surname of Alexander Frolov has a stress in the second «o», not FrOlov, FrolOv.
- Ilya Kovalchuk’s last name is actually pronounced «KovalchOOk», not «KovalchAk».
At last, here’s something funny I noticed:
Here’s how Americans pronunce «Ovechkin»:
Here’s how Russians says it:
Crazy isn’t it? And now you can understand my frustration!