How do native Russian speakers decide how to say a long word?

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C.S.Hy

Senior Member
Mandarin Chinese
[ Please comment in English, Russian or Chinese. Thank you. ]

Hello! I'm a Russian beginner from China.

As we know, there are quite a lot of multisyllabic and pretty long words in Russuan. And it is a hard problem for me to decide how to say/eead them.

My question are:

  1. how do you decide where to put the main or primary stress?
  2. how do you decide if there should be a secondary stress? If yes, where should it fall?
  3. stresses decided/found, where do you decide to separate the syllables so that you may pronounce them in groups? (I don't think the Russians speak all the syllables as a whole).

Examples:

Контртеррористический

Достопримечательности

Переосвидетельствоваться
 
  • Basically we don't think about it, we just say it. There are few words that even Russians have discussion about how to pronounce them correctly (example договОр или дОговор) but those are very rare.

    I have some thoughts on your question, I'll try to say what I think it may be.

    Stress. First of all russian words have a stem - корень (the basic unchangable meaning of the word) usually it has about 3 letters, sometimes more. All the rest letters in the word are prefixes, suffixes or endings. The stress usually fall on the stem, but is very shaky rule.

    контртеррористИческий Приставка: контр-; корень: -террор-; суффиксы: -ист-ическ; окончание: -ий.
    достопримечАтельность Корень: -дост-; интерфикс: -о-; приставка: при-; корень: -меч-; суффиксы: -тельн-ость.
    переосвидEтельствоваться Приставки: пере-о-; корень: -свиде-; суффиксы: -тель-ств-ова; глагольное окончание: -ть; постфикс: -ся

    As you can see only in one of three words are actually have the stress falling on the stem.


    Syllables. the number of vowels= the number of syllables. I don't know the rules of how to devide the words into syllables, there must be some logic, but the analyssis must be done.

    I tried to look through some information on the topic on internet, but it's so complicated (related to history, beauty of sounding etc), that in my genuine opinion you better just memorize slowly word by word from dictionary. I think it will take more time, but it's much easy and it's real.

    Sorry if I confused you even more.
     

    Maroseika

    Moderator
    Russian
    1. how do you decide where to put the main or primary stress?
    2. how do you decide if there should be a secondary stress? If yes, where should it fall?
    3. stresses decided/found, where do you decide to separate the syllables so that you may pronounce them in groups? (I don't think the Russians speak all the syllables as a whole).
    Russian native may face quite the same problems when trying to pronounce a new long word. But usually he already heard this word many times before pronounce it the first time himself. Besides, he can analize the word and use his ability to prnounce it's part, for example:
    Переосвидетельствоваться - свидетельствовать - свидетель.
    Контртеррористический - террористический - террорист.
    As for simplification the word and missing sounds and syllables, natives tend to do that more or less similarly (but to different extent depending on the speech pace), because speak one language with very similar same set of vocal habits.
    So I'd advise just listen how natives pronounce this same or similar word or start with pronouncing already known cognates.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Speaking about compound words, the main stress always falls on its last element, exactly on that syllable where it was originally in the direct source. (E.g. лопастно́й > четырехлопастно́й.)

    Secondary stress is a complex matter with a considerable room for variation (individual and even contextual) to the top of it. In some words it's almost unavoidable, in other it isn't. It may fall on the original position(s) of the main stress in the source word(s); alternatively, there can be a kind of compensatory secondary stress on the first syllable of the word (although normally it doesn't demonstrate the usual phonological properties of the Russian stress).

    Long elementary (root-wise) words also can occasionally develop secondary stress on certain prefixes. As for the main stress, listening to native speakers and consulting orthoepic dictionaries are your best friends here. The stress often moves in the course of both inflection and word-formation, and the exact pattern is essentially lexical.
     

    Jaaguar

    Member
    Estonian
    Native Russian speakers know on which syllable to put the stress, because they have been hearing Russian words since they were children. You and I, we just have to memorize where the accent is.

    In fact, there are words about which the Russians themselves are confused. You can occasionally see articles where native Russians discuss, for instance, the correct pronunciation of the word "договор" (договОр or дОговор?).
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    In fact, there are words about which the Russians themselves are confused. You can occasionally see articles where native Russians discuss, for instance, the correct pronunciation of the word "договор" (договОр or дОговор?).
    And there are professional slang variants too. For example, it's common to hear the absolutely atrocious "возбу́ждено уголовное дело" from policemen, attorneys or investigators in Russia.
     

    Vovan

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Where do you decide to separate the syllables so that you may pronounce them in groups?
    <...>
    Examples:
    Контртеррористический
    Достопримечательности
    Переосвидетельствоваться
    Only the first word can be naturally divided in pronunciation into two parts by a native speaker. "Контртеррористический" is thought of as constructed unnaturally/artificially for the Russian language (the clearly alien to the language "контр-" + the already well-assimilated by it "террористический"; instead of, say, "?(clickable) противотеррористический", which would be fairly close in meaning). One could argue that you can almost always make a tiny pause after "контр-" in Russian.

    The remaining two words just have to be trained by all speakers of the language, as has already been mentioned in #5. They can't be divided into parts in pronunciation.
     

    C.S.Hy

    Senior Member
    Mandarin Chinese
    Thank you everybody for your brilliant explanations. I've read them for times and I feel them very helpful.
     

    C.S.Hy

    Senior Member
    Mandarin Chinese
    補充:
    长词往往有次重音。我可以给举一个例子:
    ко̀нтрпродукти́вный
    次重音:
    ко̀нтр-
    主重音:
    -продукти́вный
    So nice to meet a native Russian speaker who knows Chinese.
     
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