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How different is pronunciation across Russia?

1 year ago

12 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Shady_arc
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It is fairly uniform from a non-native speaker's perspective. The most notable variation, with many dialectal features retained is found in the villages of the historical European part of Russia.

Historically the northern dialects retained an audible "o" in unstressed syllables whereas the southern ones reduced it but used a fricative "ɣ" where the standard language uses "g" as in "got".

  • it is more accurate to say that dialects that retain "o" generally pronounce unstressed "o" and "a" differently, while other dialects pronounce the same vowel there regardless of the spelling.

The current mainstream standard was born in Moscow. It reduces "o" and "a" to the same a-like vowel whenever unstressed, and combines this with the use of "g". Since the spelling reflects the historical pronunciation, it means that children should be taught whether a word is spelt with an O or with an A. In most people's pronunciation they are only different in the accented syllables, i.e. бар and бор sound different but мыла and мыло sound the same (the first syllable is stressed in both words).

The difference between the North and the South is is still found to some extent but, apparently, is not as pronounced in urban population.

  • about 75 % of population lives in cities an towns

Siberian pronunciation and rhytm are quite distinct. I can clearly hear that Yekaterinburg, Omsk, Perm, Tomsk, Irkutsk, Vladivistok speakers were not born where I was. However, I cannot hear any difference from my speech in some people from Krasnoyarsk. Not sure why. I heard that the intonation in Saint Petersburg is more flat than in Moscow. So there might still be some difference in intonation between Krasnoyarsk and Moscow; I cannot tell. Some speakers do have a less noticeable flavour of something you can hear in Yekaterinburg, some I am not sure. I never lived there so I can only judge by YouTube videos.

1 year ago

[deactivated user]

    Are you professional linguist or just a native moscow speaker?

    I'm native (but not indigenous) siberian (Novosibirsk), and I cannot spot any nuances of other regions, except of Moscow.

    1 year ago

    https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
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    It's not surprising that Siberians would have their own characteristic nuances. After all the characteristic English accents of the U.S. Upper Midwest (Minnesota and Michigan Upper Peninsula) and the distinctive features of Rioplatense Spanish are pretty clearly attributable to phonological characteristics of immigrants' native languages. I'm no expert in Russian empire migration patterns, but I would think much of the Siberian populace is descended from those who within easy historical memory spoke other languages. But it would be interesting if I read you correctly that Siberia as somewhat a whole has a distinctive accent. Maybe it developed as in very rough terms a koiné in one of the big Siberian cities where people mingled and then spread throughout the region?

    1 year ago

    https://www.duolingo.com/Emdex

    This video might help: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4cXIyyc-L0

    He goes over the Russian Language, how it was developed and some basic history. You might find it interesting.

    With my understanding of Russia, the language itself stays uniform throughout Russia. After the creation of the Soviet empire in the 20th century, slandered modern Russian was spread throughout Russia and the USSR, through education and the media. Effectively destroying any spoken variety we might have see today.

    A variation in the spoken language would be very rare or so subtle that foreign speakers might not be able to detect it.

    1 year ago

    https://www.duolingo.com/slogger
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    This is a very interesting and informative video. Thanks for posting it.

    He does make an error when describing verbs:

    He says, "Either of these stems can be conjugated for past, present, or future tenses." This is not so. Perfective verbs have no present tense forms.

    1 year ago

    https://www.duolingo.com/LICA98
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    it is very similar everywhere, the only thing I know that stands out is that in Ukraine and some Russian regions close to Ukraine they pronounce the г as х

    1 year ago

    https://www.duolingo.com/slogger
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    [Moved comment to under Emdex's comment.]

    1 year ago

    https://www.duolingo.com/flootzavut
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    Just agreeing with the other comments, really. I lived in St Petersburg and in Ulyanovsk, and there was a difference in accent between the two (and I had a couple of Siberian teachers whose accents were also different), but the difference was comparatively tiny. I have neighbours and close relatives whose accents differ more from mine than any I ever heard in Russia.

    With those two specific accents I'm most familiar with, St Pete was more clipped and precise, whereas the Ulyanovsk natives tended to drawl a bit, but it was comparatively a very small difference. Accents were not a hindrance to understanding in any place I have been in Russia, which includes as far north as Murmansk Archangelsk, St Pete, Moscow, down to Kazan and Volgograd, and I had friends who studied/lived in Krasnoyarsk and travelled to Vladivostok; the accent difference was never enough for there to be a breakdown in communication. (Lack of ability, sure but not accents LOL)

    I was/am amazed just how uniform the accent is in such a huge country. It's not perfectly uniform, don't get me wrong - even as a non-native, if you have a reasonable degree of fluency you will likely notice differences - but considering the sheer size of the country, it is amazing to me how consistent it is. I have honestly heard greater accent differences in languages I know much less well and in countries I've seen much less of. (Honestly, there are English accents I would have far more difficulty with, because the variation from standard/accents I'm used to is so great.) It's always fascinated me, tbh.

    1 year ago

    https://www.duolingo.com/Shady_arc
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    Try this guy: https://youtu.be/sE8i2Dbn8qc?t=35m2s

    It think one of the contributing factors is that Russian fairly recently spread into most of the territory it is now spoken in. You will find most variation in the areas where Russian and its ancestor languages has been spoken for many centuries—which is a rather small territory compared to the size of the country.

    I doubt the city I was born in even has a "historical" accent. It did not exist as a city before the fifties, so at some point the vast majority of the population came from somewhere else.

    1 year ago

    https://www.duolingo.com/flootzavut
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    I think you're likely right about the relatively recent spread - it seems as good an explanation as any, for sure!

    I think that video is actually a great example of how uniform (I mean, relatively!) the Russian accent is. There was plenty I didn't catch, but that's because I'm painfully out of practice and hunting not a subject where I was ever really in practice; there were also big chunks that I understood without difficulty. For example, I'd never come across the word мох before, but it wasn't hard to pick up from context what he was talking about and double check it on Google. The way he talked (bearing in mind I'm thinking back seventeen years here) is kind of familiar to me as a softer, slower, more... drawly kind of Russian that reminds me of Ulyanovsk to be honest. (It made me feel rather nostalgic.)

    I skipped around the video a little, and there are definitely moments which are much more difficult for me to catch - around the 32-33 minute mark when they're looking down into the hole, I honestly can't tell if it's accent or vocabulary that's tripping me up there, but I understood very little of it.

    Specific things are very familiar - for example, the way he kind of swallows/squashes сейчас so it's more like счас or even щас(? I don't know quite how I'd spell it!) And just before the 36 minute mark when he says всё нормально, and how he says так - it's making me grin because it's so familiar to me. (Also, weirdly specific, but the way he said молодой at one point when he said молодой охотник reminded me really strongly of one of my Russian teachers. I know, weirdly specific, but it made me grin again.) I don't know how to put it better than it sounds kind of drawly to me... like так is longer. We used to exaggerate and say лаааадно, ничегоооо, хорошоооо, because the accent in Ulyanovsk felt like that in comparison to other places. (If I have any kind of regional accent (besides "non native" lol) in Russian, it's pretty much this, that it's drawly and drawn out, because that's when I picked up most of my fluency.)

    I just had a rifle around on YouTube and found this woman talking about St Pete-specific words: https://youtu.be/rtW4p8ormaA and the difference between those two videos is I would say about the difference I found between Peter and Ulyanovsk. She speaks very fast but very clear... I think if anything I understood her better, but I think at least in part because of the topic. Compare how he says так to how she says it - I mean yes, she's speaking fast and it's in the middle of a sentence whereas he says it isolated, but even then, she's saying it very much how an average English speaker would say tack, whereas his is almost... taaahhhk. The latter is so similar to how I remember people people speaking in Ulyanovsk.

    I should say, I have no idea, these days, if her accent is a specific Peter accent - I couldn't pretend to differentiate between, say, St Pete, Moscow, etc. Purely that the difference between these two accents, which are clearly different from one another but not incomprehensible, is very similar to the difference between the two places I lived in in Russia. Speed and tone and everything, that difference is very, very similar to what I noticed between St Pete and Ulyanovsk.

    (My main problem with Russian at the moment is that I'm no longer used to letting my brain stay in Russian - I try and translate to English, and I'm just not good enough/fast enough to do that, but it keeps trying, and instead of just retaining, I'm too busy trying to translate. If I could convince it to just stick with the Russian, I'd retain more. Stupid brain facepalm I think I understand the woman better partly because of topic but also - at the risk of sounding like a nut - because she speaks so fast I don't have time to even try and translate it to English.)

    It's obviously hard to judge, because I'm always going to be coming at it from the POV of a non-native, and my ear is never going to be the same as a native speaker's, you know? And obviously when it comes to dialects and slang and мат, I'd be wildly out of my depth! But from that viewpoint, I'm frequently staggered by how (relatively) consistent it is. There are definitely differences, even to my non-native and very, very out of practice ears, but it's striking that the differences purely from an accent standpoint (ignoring slang or dialect) are so small. I mean, to put it in perspective - it's about 1,500km from Ulyanovsk to St Pete, according to Google maps. It's considerably less than that from where I live to Northern Island, to the North East and to Glasgow, and those are all accents I didn't always understand when I first encountered them, in my native tongue and my native country, even when the person I was talking to was not using any dialect words or anything else to throw me off. Honestly, I've come across Birmingham accents that I struggled to follow, and that's about 100 kilometres from me ;) so you can see why it is absolutely fascinating to me how in comparison to our tiny island of a country with a ridiculous number of accents, some of which I don't understand, to be able to travel as far afield as Peter, Murmansk, Kazan, Volgograd and Moscow and still be able to understand and be understood.

    And like I say, I think the theory that it's the recent spread is very, very likely. In comparison, the town where I now live and the village where I grew up we're both mentioned in the Domesday book. The Forest of Dean (I nominally live within the FoD, although I am not a Forester and don't have the accent), which has a very distinct accent, has also been continuously inhabited for centuries. I imagine the same could be said for places like Glasgow and Newcastle upon Tyne and Belfast. We are a tiny country, but boy, the roots of those accents go deep! :)

    1 year ago

    https://www.duolingo.com/Forgetdomani
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    Add to that all that migration that took place in XX century. It did mix up the language a lot.

    1 year ago

    [deactivated user]

      Most people from rural areas speak with some accents of various strength. Also they have many dialectisms not used by citizens (except rare exceptions like "файл/мультифора", "бордюр/поребрик") It is very clean when someone has rural pronunciation and words.

      I haven't visited many regions, but I believe that this pronunciation varies a lot among regions.

      Also, we have our own 'cockney' dialect. It incorporates alot of slang, mostly criminal or similar, and has many regional varieties. And it sometimes also has specific pronunciation and a way of intonating, especialy among 'chavs', who render themselves as impudent. You may try to enjoy it in TV show "реальные пацаны" (a friend linguist said it represents "uralic" variety)

      1 year ago
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