быть [bɨtʲ] бить [bʲitʲ]

What he said ;) The difference is really subtle and even after a year of studying Russian, I still find it really hard to hear the difference in some cases (although context does help a lot: быть = to be, бить = to hit someone :P)

To compare to Serbian: in Serbian, л is hard and љ is soft, although I believe in Serbian the difference is way more audible, since you actually say "lj".
See it like this: in Russian, you can make a consonant hard/soft by altering the vowel that follows it (or by adding ь or ъ), while in Serbian, you simply write a different consonant.
Correct me if I'm wrong!


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