Pronunciation of endings -ное and -ная

Alan Evangelista

Senior Member
Brazilian Portuguese
Hi, guys!

I'm having a hard time with sequences of unstressed vowels in Russian. It seems to me that they are not clearly pronounced and are merged into only one vowel.

For instance, Wiktionary says that ванная is pronounced [ˈvanːəjə] and that существительное is pronounced [sʊɕːɪstˈvʲitʲɪlʲnəjə] , but I hear [ɛ] instead of [əjə] at the end of both words in the Wiktionary recordings and in Google Translate. Am I hearing these audios wrong or is there some kind of vowel reduction happening in those words? If there is indeed some vowel reduction, is it wrong to pronounce them as mentioned in the IPA phonetic transcriptions above?

Thanks in advance!
 
  • Nikined

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I've listened to the pronunciations, there are [j]'s there, although they are not obvious.
     

    Maroseika

    Moderator
    Russian
    Am I hearing these audios wrong or is there some kind of vowel reduction happening in those words? If there is indeed some vowel reduction, is it wrong to pronounce them as mentioned in the IPA phonetic transcriptions above?
    There is really vowel reduction in these endings, especially in the fast speech.
     

    Alan Evangelista

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    I've listened to the pronunciations, there are [j]'s there, although they are not obvious.
    I confess I can't hear them. Anyway, the point is not only the presence/absence of [j]. The unstressed endings -ое and -ая should be pronounced [əjə] but it seems to me that they were reduced to [ɛ]; I can not even hear a [ə]. [ɛ] and [ə] are completely different vowels (for instance, compare "bed" and "butter"). That's why those 2 pronunciations seemed very odd to me. Again, please correct me if I am hearing it badly.

    There is really vowel reduction in these endings, especially in the fast speech.
    Thanks for confirming it! Would it be wrong to pronounce these 2 words without the vowel reduction, as I transcribed in my original post?

    Does this vowel reduction usually take place in these vowels endings, regardless of the word? Are there patterns of vowel reductions documented somewhere or do I have to learn case by case?
     
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    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Normally there is no [j] in the unstressed inflectional vowel clusters. Not even in slower speech, it is purely phonemic (just what I mentioned recently in the thread about the IPA in dictionaries); attempts to articulate [j] there actually sound very unnatural - though native speakers may do that when they try to pronounce a word with an extreme accuracy, as it is often happens on Forvo, for example (so, both pronunciations of "сильная" on Forvo wouldn't possibly occur in any form of normal speech, and among 5 recordings of "ванная" only that of szurszuncik sounds normal).

    Ironically, it is present in the Wiktionary recordings indeed (albeit in the form of a less intensively articulated [ɪ̯]). It actually shouldn't at all. Still, the fact that you are missing it means that you shouldn't trust your ear too much either.

    Sadly, I cannot remember which sounds are exactly present in which of these combinations, and a native ear is of poor assistance here (we often hear what we do not actually pronounce, and we often pronounce something different from what we imagine). Spectrograms and x-ray imaging are the only reliable source. Hopefully I'll be able to add some info later.
     
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    Vovan

    Senior Member
    Russian
    it seems to me that they were reduced to [ɛ]
    The first vowel is indeed close to [ɛ]. Then there's a very, very slight [jə]. Together, all three make a triphthong in oral speech (not in singing).
    There' some similarity here with the way some Americans (e.g. in the South or of Afro-American origin) pronounce "man": [me:jən].
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Together, all three make a triphthong in oral speech (not in singing).
    Diphthongs and triphtongs are concepts of phonology rather than of actual phonetics. Since in Russian these vocalic combinations are phonologically divided between different syllables, it's problematic to view them as di- and triphtongs. Anyway, combinations of three vowels and semivowels don't actually exist on phonetic level in unstressed positions (although if one of the vowels is stressed they may occur); they make two adjacent vowel sounds at most.
     

    Maroseika

    Moderator
    Russian
    Would it be wrong to pronounce these 2 words without the vowel reduction, as I transcribed in my original post?
    It would be correct, but this [j] is very weak, as already mentioned. But although the weaker it is the faster is the speech, but it's definetely always there no matter how fast one speaks. At least [sʊɕːɪstˈvʲitʲɪlʲnəə] would sound extremely weird. And [ˈvanːəə] sounds like a variant of [ˈvanːə] - ванна.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    At least [sʊɕːɪstˈvʲitʲɪlʲnəə]
    I'd suppose [sʊɕːɪstˈvʲitʲɪlʲnəə̟] in slow speech and some kind of monophthongization in fast speech, but I need confirmations. It's apparent, though, that all records where the speakers actually tried to articulate /й/ don't sound even remotely natural.

    By the way, it's no wonder that ванная tends to merge with ванна in colloquial Russian; even though the pronunciation is normally different, it becomes really close in fast speech.
     

    Eirwyn

    Member
    Russian
    I confess I can't hear them. Anyway, the point is not only the presence/absence of [j]. The unstressed endings -ое and -ая should be pronounced [əjə] but it seems to me that they were reduced to [ɛ];
    Somehow you're right and wrong at the same time. Yes, unstressed -ая- and -ое- (as well as any other VjV combination unless one of the vowels is /u/) are actually pronounced like a monophthongal sound between [ə] and [e̞], but it's not what we hear in the Wiktionary pronunciation of the word "ванная". There's clearly an unnaturally sounding triphthong there. The other example is correct though.

    I can not even hear a [ə]. [ɛ] and [ə] are completely different vowels (for instance, compare "bed" and "butter").
    "uh" in English "butter" is not pronounced like [ə]. It's lower and more back advanced.

    Thanks for confirming it! Would it be wrong to pronounce these 2 words without the vowel reduction, as I transcribed in my original post?
    Well, I can't say it would be formally wrong since I've never encountered a prescriptive instruction on this issue , but it would immediately reveal you as a foreigner learning Russian from books. Native speakers don't pronounce it that way.

    Does this vowel reduction usually take place in these vowels endings, regardless of the word?
    Yes, as far as both vowels are unstressed.
     

    Alan Evangelista

    Senior Member
    Brazilian Portuguese
    I'd suppose [sʊɕːɪstˈvʲitʲɪlʲnəə̟] in slow speech and some kind of monophthongization in fast speech
    unstressed -ая- and -ое- (as well as any other VjV combination unless one of the vowels is /u/) are actually pronounced like a monophthongal sound between [ə] and [e̞]
    That sounds closer to what I hear. Thanks!

    this [j] is very weak, as already mentioned. But although the weaker it is the faster is the speech, but it's definetely always there no matter how fast one speaks. At least [sʊɕːɪstˈvʲitʲɪlʲnəə] would sound extremely weird.
    As other Russians users said above that there is no [j] in these vowel clusters in fast speech and I don't hear it at all, I have to agree with them. The monophtong is surely not a [əː], though, but rather closer to [e̞], as confirmed by @Eirwyn.

    I'd appreciate if some moderator could rename this thread to "Pronunciation of unstressed endings -ое and -ая". So, it will be easier to find by other learners of Russian with the same question.
     
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