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Russian phonetics question [Was: What's SHCH?]

From:Stephen Mulraney <ataltanie@...>
Date:Saturday, July 24, 2004, 13:54
Emily Zilch wrote:

> { 20040723,0119 | Jean-François COLSON } "In Russian, there's a letter > which is commonly transliterated as "shch" in English. "ch" is an > affricate. But what is "shch"." > > It is a shorthand way to write the cluster sh /S/ (or perhaps we might > buck the trend and mark it as the /s`/ it so often appears as) + ch > /tS/ (or perhaps we might buck the trend and mark it as the /ts`/ it so > often appears as). In some dialects, it is pronounced /s`:/ (i.e. a > carefully geminated "sh") and might alternately be transliterated [ ssh > ].
It's one of those curious facts of learning languages, that basically all of the Russian learning materials I've perused have claimed that Russian "shch" is /StS/, while basically all of the Russians I've asked about this have been quite firm that it's actually [\s:] (or something like that: the important point is that it's both geminate and "soft"). A question about Russian phonetics: I've caught a suggestion of this elsewhere, but recently came across it again in an appendix of an old (1975) Russian-English dictionary I got. It's a Russian publication, BTW. Anyway, there's a chart of Russian consonants, rows indicating type of articulation and colums representing place of articulation. A typical box has four entries: e.g. (transliterating) [b] [b'] [p] [p'] (The chart represents phonemes, but uses Russian letters to do so; e.g. _'_ actually appears as a soft sign) with the left hand side of the box marked "hard" and the right hand side marked "soft". Now, the box for "post dental open [i.e. fricative] consonants" goes like this (again, trying to transliterate sensibly): [zh] [zhzh'] [sh] [shch'] So, this seems to be suggesting that not only does |sh| [S] have a soft counterpart which is not only soft, but geminate (the sound written with the letter _shche_); but also, that |zh| [Z] has a soft geminate counterpart, [\z:] or so. My question is not so much "is this true?" (I've heard it suggested elsewhere, and it seems to have been true once, at least), but "how do you spell this sound?" or "what words does it occur in?" or "how do I infer this sound from the spelling of a word?" I think that |dozhd'|, _rain_ might have it, so "zhd'" looks like one spelling of it. Spasibo bol'shoj, s. -- Stephen Mulraney The best way to remove a virus is with vi and a steady hand
> I believe - and can look up if people are actually interested - that > originally this letter represented the simpler cluster [ sht ], which > again would either be /St/ or /s't/ depending on your preferences.
That would make some sense: modern Bulgarians uses the letter for [St], I believe.
> em'ly > ******** > EMILY0 > > >


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