Vowel reduction in Russian

Vowel Reduction In Russian

Vowel reduction in Russian

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Vowel reduction in Russian differs in the standard language and in dialects. Several ways of reduction (and its absence) are distinguished.

There are five vowel phonemes in Standard Russian. Vowels tend to merge together when they are unstressed. The vowels and have the same unstressed allophones for a number of dialects and reduce to an unclear schwa. Unstressed may become more central if it does not merge with . Other types of reduction are phonetic, such as that of high vowels ( and ), which become near-close so that этап ('stage') is pronounced and мужчина ('man') is .

Russian orthography does not reflect vowel reduction and this can cause confusion for beginning students of Russian.

Back vowels

Other than in Northern Russian dialects as well as those of Kaluga, Kostroma and Vologda, Russian speakers have a strong tendency to merge unstressed and . This is called akanye () and contrasts with okanye () pronunciations. The way this works in Standard Russian goes as follows:

  • After hard (non-palatalized) consonants, both reduce to or ; Examples: паром ('ferry'), облако ('cloud'), трава ('grass').
    • When ‹аа›, ‹ао›, ‹оа›, or ‹оо› is written in a word, it indicates so......
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