Pronunciation question - "G" Russian vs. Belarusian #belarus #russia

Steven Usdansky

It's been decades since I took a couple of years of Russian in college, but the letter Г was always pronounced has a hard G; never a soft G or H. On the other hand, Г, when it appears in a place name on Google Maps, is transliterated as H, which apparently is the official Belarusian style. Just wondering if this reflects long-standing differences in pronunciation; one of my father's uncles shows up as  Герц in what appears to be an 1894 census document (revision list?) but the passenger manifest showing his arrival at Ellis Island gives his name as Herz (and he was known in the US as Harry).

Carole Shaw

There is no real H sound in Russian, and possibly in Byelorussian, as we know it in English/German.  What comes close is the sound Kh in Russian (pronounced like the German ch) and represented by the Cyrillic letter X but it is usually not used to represent the English H.  Instead the Cyrillic Г – hard G – is used.  Thus Herman becomes German (hard G), Harry becomes Gari and Hertz would become Gertz etc.


Interestingly, other Slavonic languages, e.g. Czech, have many words beginning with H where one would find a G sound in Russian. Thus the recent threads on JewishGen re Horodok/Gorodok.  In some regions of Russia, i.e. in the south, the local dialect replaces the hard initial Russian G with an H sound.  Pop group (groopa) becomes hroopa.  G, Kh and H phonetically are produced close by in the mouth.  G is a voiced velar plosive. Kh sound is a voiceless velar fricative. H is a voiceless glottal fricative.


Carole Shaw, London UK
SCHNEIDER: Kamanets Podolsk, Ukraine & Libava/ Libau/Liepaja, Latvia
KLUGMAN, GOLDSCHMID (plus variations), BRAUER: Libava/Libau/Liepaja, Latvia & Johannesburg
SAMSON, BLIK: Amsterdam, Zandvoort, Holland


ZANDGRUNDT (plus variations), SANDGROUND: Warsaw, London and beyond

JACOBOVITCH/JACKSON: Staszow, Poland & London

KOSKOVITCH/KENTON: Staszow, Poland & London

Dr.Josef ASH

Russian has NO sound "H" or Hebrew ה and NO letter for it.
in foreign words Rissian changes it to G (Г) like in Gematoma, Gemoglobin.
Sometimes it dissapears (as in hystory - История)
in belarussian language Г sounds as fricative sound so it is closer to h and, may be, it is easyer to sign english h or hebrew-yiddish ה (as in הערץ) by belarussian Г.
practically, if you know him as Herts (hart in Yiddish), call him Herts.