Belarusian - Lukashenko: correct pronunciation of final vowel

< Previous | Next >

bearded

Senior Member
Hello everyone

I don't know any Slavic language. For a few weeks, in Italian TV the name of the Belarussian dictator has been pronounced 'Lukashenka'. I would like to know if this pronunciation is correct - and complies with a phonological rule in that language.

Many thanks in advance.
 
  • DarkChild

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    It is pronounced LukashenkA in both Russian, and Belarusian. The difference is that in Russian it's spelled with a final O, while in Belarusian it's with a final A. So, it depends which spelling is being followed.
    For example, tennis player Azarenka's last name is the same way, but it's spelled following the Belarusian way.
     

    Piotr_WRF

    Senior Member
    Polish, German
    This phenomenon is called akanye and basically means that an unstressed /o/ is pronounced more or less /a/. Russian does not reflect it in its spelling, Belarusian does.
     

    lingpil

    Senior Member
    German & Russian
    However I would like to point out that this unstressed /o/ (at least in Russian) doesn't become the same kind of /a/ like in Italian or German. The pronunciation of it comes quite close to the British English vowel pronunciation in "must". Hearing news speakers who pronounce it as a clear /a/ like in German "alpha" sounds from the Russian point of view slightly odd. I don't know if Belarusian speakers feel the same.

    Please also note that in Belarus most people (including Lukashenko himself) speak more or less standard Russian or Russian with some regional colouring. The linguistic situation is very different to Ukraine and the Ukrainian language that is indeed alive and kicking.
     

    Panceltic

    Senior Member
    Slovenščina
    Like the comments above said, unstressed /o/ in Russian turns into a weak /ɐ/ or /ə/ sound, depending on the position in the word. This is called akanye and is not reflected in spelling.

    In Belarusian though, akanye is even stronger than in Russian. The etymological unstressed /o/ becomes a fully-fledged, clear /a/, which is also shown in spelling.

    Best illustrated with some IPA:

    Russian: Лукашенко [ɫʊkɐˈʂɛnkə]

    Belarusian: Лукашэнка [ɫukaˈʂɛnka]

    Lukashenko is actually a Ukrainian surname, so here is Ukrainian for completeness: Лукашенко [ɫʊkɐˈʃɛnkɔ]. Akanye doesn't exist in Ukrainian.
     
    Last edited:

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    In Belarusian though, akanye is even stronger than in Russian. The etymological unstressed /o/ becomes a fully-fledged, clear /a/, which is also shown in spelling.
    This pronunciation has almost disappeared: it is only found nowadays in the speech of emigrants that inhabited the Polish-owned (1920–1939) part of Belarus or their descendants. The rest of speakers pronounce a more or less in the Russian manner. That can be heard for example among presenters of the American радыё «Свабода», where only the American Данчык and the Polish Максімюк speak this way.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    A couple of minor corrections regarding this discussion:
    1. Square brackets go for sounds (phones), slashes go for phonemes. For Russian and Belarusian the difference really matters - for example, Russian has 5 to 6 vowel phonemes but no less than 15 vowel sounds which are their positional allophones (part of them being quite distinct).
    2. Akanye in the broad sense is the merger of all non-close unstressed vowels, and in the narrow sense it's the merger of /a/ and /o/ (after hard consonants - P.S.) in the closest pre-tonic syllable into an [a]-like sound (most typically, [ɐ], but in Standard Belarusian and in some Russian dialects it's an almost unreduced [a]).
    This pronunciation has almost disappeared: it is only found nowadays in the speech of emigrants that inhabited the Polish-owned (1920–1939) part of Belarus or their descendants. The rest of speakers pronounce a more or less in the Russian manner. That can be heard for example among presenters of the American радыё «Свабода», where only the American Данчык and the Polish Максімюк speak this way.
    Modern Belarusian must be strongly influenced by Russian, since most speakers have Russian as their first language, and many ethnic Belarusians don't speak Belarusian at all (plus there's a considerable Russian minority). Compared to Ukraine (where, despite the extremely strong positions of Russian, it's deeply influenced by Ukrainian phonetics) the situation is kind of reverse. Pronunciation among Belarusian villagers must be less affected, I suppose, even though they normally speak anything but Standard Belarusian.
     
    Last edited:

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    Modern Belarusian must be strongly influenced by Russian, since most speakers have Russian as their first language, and many ethnic Belarusians don't speak Belarusian at all (plus there's a considerable Russian minority). Compared to Ukraine (where, despite the extremely strong positions of Russian, it's deeply influenced by Ukrainian phonetics) the situation is kind of reverse. Pronunciation among Belarusian villagers must be less affected, I suppose, even though they normally speak anything but Standard Belarusian.
    Does Lukashenko/Lukashenka/Łukašenka pronounce unstressed a's the Russian or Belarusian way? Nobody will say he doesn't have a strong accent in Russian.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Does Lukashenko/Lukashenka/Łukašenka pronounce unstressed a's the Russian or Belarusian way? Nobody will say he doesn't have a strong accent in Russian.
    He certainly produces open sounds in many positions where Russian speakers normally make schwas (post-tonic positions included), even though schwas also occur in his speech. I cannot be sure about the exact quality of these a-like sounds, though.
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    Compared to Ukraine (where, despite the extremely strong positions of Russian, it's deeply influenced by Ukrainian phonetics) the situation is kind of reverse.
    Concerning Ukraine, I've noticed that the pronunciation in eastern and southern regions, which are expected to be the most russified / least ukrainized (since both Ukrainian and Russian started to penetrate there some four centuries ago and all that speech is newly formed), is often very, very different from anything I have ever heard among Russians or among Ukrainians from originally Ukrainian areas. If somebody is interested, check on Youtube Юрий Романенко, Сергей Белашко or — the crown of it all — Добкин-Кернес (these latter are both Jews but speak characteristic local Russian).
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top