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Re: CHAT Re: Russian

From:Danny Wier <dawier@...>
Date:Monday, August 21, 2000, 22:31
Vasily, I'm answering both of your posts.

--- Vasiliy Chernov <bc_@...> wrote:

[Russian phonemes]

> Vowels (stressed): a o u i (I) e > > The only reason to consider [I] a phoneme is the name of the letter > denoting this sound (plus a couple of extremely rare Turkish and > Estonian placenames) where this vowel appears word-initially. > Otherwise > it's a variant of [i] following a 'hard' (non-palatalized) consonant.
I got the same impression. And I am no native Russian speaker; I've tried to teach myself the language off and on for about 17 years (I remember trying to write my name in Cyrillic back in eighth grade). Unlike the case with Turkish dotless I, Russian cannot have a soft consonant before /1/ (Cyrillic bI). And except for Zhe and Sha which of course are always hard, no hard consonant can precede /i/ (the "backwards N"). (Tse can only be followed by /1/ and not /i/, right?) Anyway, I'm becoming more and more inclined to prefer to analyze the phonology of a language not according to isolated consonants and vowels, but based on admissible syllables. Here are the possible syllables beginning with T: hard: ta te t1 to tu soft: t'a t'e t'i t'o t'u (Note that hard te is rare except in foreign words, and t'o is always stressed, since it's Cyr ë.) So I have ten possible syllables formed from six vowels and hard-soft distinction of the consonant, and the sole limitation occurs with the high front or center vowels. There is no *t'1; nor there is *ti. And of course (I am aware you know all this; I'm preaching to the choir here, I know) certain consonants must be exclusively soft or hard. For che /tS'/, which is always soft: cha che chi cho chu Che does not (unless it does, but it still wouldn't be phonetically distinctive) precede Ja ("backwards R"), E ("reversed E"), Yery (bI), Jo (E-umlaut) nor Ju ("IO ligature"). Whereas ten possible syllables are possible with most consonants, certain ones have only five. Someone on this list discussed syllabic phonology a long time ago. This method is not only the best to use for Japanese, it's the most traditional since Japanese writes much of its language as a syllabry.
> I don't touch unstressed vowels here, too much commenting needed...
Yeah, you have a lot of vowel neutralization with unstressed syllables. I hear of regional variation according to the _kan'je_ neutralizations: _Okan'je_ vs. _Akan'je_, and _Ikan'je_. (For the uninitiated, this means that unstressed O in some Russian accents remains /O/, but in Moscow and Saint Petersburg at least, it becomes /a/. _Ikan'je_ is simply the shift of unstressed /je/ and /ja/ to /i/ -- a feature of Ukrainian, which not only writes them as Latin I i, but even shifts O! (And it might occur for stressed syllables to. Any Ukrainian speakers here?) I'll let Vasily comment on these things. Meanwhile, as the student, I have some questions on older forms of Russian (i.e. Russian before 1918, and also Old Russian):
> Consonants: > > 'hard' 'soft' letter
> (d_z) - (tse+ze or de+ze, in interjections and loanwords)
Right, this must be S s, used in Macedonian for /dz/.
> (Z:') (ze+zhe, zhe+de or double zhe in certain words; old > norm)
Explain this one... is it a voiced variant of Shcha, or an independent development? Did it use a distinctive letter, like Dzhe from Serbian? (That's Tse with the tail in the middle and not the right side of the base.)
> S:' shcha (also es+che, sha+che, etc.)
I learned to pronounce it /StS/; is that still okay, or would I sound like a "tourist"?
> (G) (G') (ge in some Church Slavonic words; old norm)
Now this is the one I'm wondering about. I assume you're referring to the voiced counterpart of X x. There is an OCS letter which resembles capital h with T-bar on top and lowercase h-stroke, but that's /ts'/ in modern Serbian. The book I read on OCS transliterates the letter as g-acute, which I thought was a palatized /g/. And is this related to the realization of Ge (/g/ in Russian) as [H] (voiced h that should be) in Ukrainian and Belarussian? (The main reason I'm asking these nitpicky technical questions is because I'm finally creating the initial setting of "City", and the environment from which the hero comes.) [someone else writes:]
> >The teacher's explanations of how a sound is pronounced are > >not intended for someone who is a conlanger...
From my experience, too many teacher's explanations of how a sound is pronounced are intended for someone who speaks English and intends to speak any other language characteristically badly. DuBBa. __________________________________________________ Do You Yahoo!? Yahoo! Mail – Free email you can access from anywhere!