Schwa(s) in Russian

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Certainly not Russian (which is oversaturated with them). :)
Байден "Báyden" (['bˠaɪ̯d̪ˠən̪ˠ] would be the most exact transcription).
What is actually this [ə] in Russian? Is the reduced vowel in Biden→Байден the same as the vowel in Gordon→Гордон transcribed via ə as well? I am asking because flavors of reduced vowels are usually hidden in the transcription by the accompanying palatalization (that is полон ['polən] vs. волен ['volʲən]), which is absent here, and we're facing two acoustically different vowels, I'd dare to say phonemes, equally transcribed as ə.
 
  • Eirwyn

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I'm afraid you would have to measure it yourself. If I'm not mistaken, Awwal does not differentiate /ы/ and /а/ in unstressed non-pretonic position, so his observations are most likely irrelevant for your accent/idiolect (at least in case the difference between them in your speech is not imaginary).
     
    Do you mean you pronounce unstressed vowels in Байден (e-colored shwa), Гордон (a-colored schwa) and Сашин (ɨ-colored schwa) the same? The existing transcription system (found, for example, in Wiktionary) implies precisely that, though I have never heard anybody speaking this way, either around me or in the media (when not in allegro speech at least).
     

    Eirwyn

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Yes, of course. Who do you think the "ова/ыва" rules in school grammar books exist for? ;)
     
    I certainly pronounce -ова- and -ыва- differently, for example in заведовать : разведывать. I mean, I honestly didn't ever imagine anybody speaks the way you imply. So, Байден, Байдон and Байдын are to be pronounced the same for you? And Байден : Гордон have the very same unstressed vowel?
     

    Eirwyn

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I'd still recommend you to try measuring your (better unprepared) speech in Praat. I used to believe the same thing you do.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I am asking because flavors of reduced vowels are usually hidden in the transcription by the accompanying palatalization (that is полон ['polən] vs. волен ['volʲən]), which is absent here, and we're facing two acoustically different vowels
    Palatalized consonants influence the quality of the surrounding reduced vowels - in a pretty uniform fashion (although it isn't that easy to separate the consonant and the vowel in the first place). Here we don't have any palatalizations (which is obvious from the transcription), so no questions should arise. More precise transcriptions can reflect positional differences in the schwa's quality.
     

    nizzebro

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I would recommend everyone try record and analyze yourself pronouncing not only "ба́йден, го́рдон" (where "го́рдон" would show lack of higher harmonics, as expected) but also mix it with an artificial "ба́йдон, го́рдэн" (keeping your maximum of introspection). I have a suspicion that TV guys have some bias in their speech, since they read text from the screen and are required to be intelligible. Now imagine yourself arguing with your friends about politics in your kitchen. The first occurrence of "Байден" would probably show all the specific features of its particular phonetics - since you are interested in your friends to be aware of the person you are talking about.
     
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    My impression is that the Moscow speech (in case of Awwal12, and surely some other local variants) is more phonetically advanced (=derived, =further removed from the ancestral state with clearer reduced vowels), and has been so for decades. People there tend to articulate unstressed vowels more slurredly. In the past, they may have emphasized the pretonic syllable while reducing the rest (д'раагой), the stereotypical gay accent, yet I have only heard one Muscovite of my age speaking this way in the real life, though it can be heard in the theatrical pronunciation of the past. Nowadays this is manifested in what the replies here and the Wiktionary transcription describe as indistinction of schwas where I clearly (for decades, since I first noticed this at least twenty five years ago when reading books on Russian phonetics) hear different timbres in my own speech and the speech of people around me.
     

    nizzebro

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Regardless of local pronunciation patterns, there's no native syllable 'дэн' in Russian. It is a foreign word and you either accent the unstressed syllable to make its spelling clear, or not. In the case when a person has no idea of how to spell this word, I'm sure that their pronunciation would depend on the sample they heard from others: whether the ambiguous syllable had been accented.
     
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    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    My impression is that the Moscow speech (in case of Awwal12, and surely some other local variants) is more phonetically advanced (=derived, =further removed from the ancestral state with clearer reduced vowels), and has been so for decades.
    It is possible, but here we have the position of the strongest reduction (the first post-tonic closed syllable, not an inflection of any kind). An advanced merger in such circumstances would be /u/ and /a-i-e-o/.
    I think that many of us pronounce it ‘байдин’.
    The pronunciation with /dʲ/ is possible, although I'm yet to hear it with my own ears (again, that "orthographic softening" is generally atypical for /d/ in proper names).
    What kind of vowel is it: a purely washed out schwa, an a-colored one, e-colored, ɨ-colored, something else?
    The most neutral one you can get in Russian.
     
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    Eirwyn

    Senior Member
    Russian
    What kind of vowel is it: a purely washed out schwa, an a-colored one, e-colored, ɨ-colored, something else?
    There simply isn't enough time to place the tongue in a certain position, so it's realized as a vague variety of sounds close to the surrounding consonants. If there was a possibility to distinguish all these shades of vowels, the merger wouldn't have happened in the first place. However, from my observation, it's most commonly realized as a sound slightly more back and open that the stressed /ы/ (which isn't actually that much central, by the way) in the exact same position, so I guess it may be considered ɨ-colored in your classification.
     

    nizzebro

    Senior Member
    Russian
    There simply isn't enough time to place the tongue in a certain position
    That's why I would say that it is not colored in any way as being simply approaching the speaker's base tone without any overtones that actually make up that coloring. I suppose a 'pure' shwa to be language-independent for that very reason.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    However, from my observation, it's most commonly realized as a sound slightly more back and open that the stressed /ы/ (which isn't actually that much central, by the way) in the exact same position, so I guess it may be considered ɨ-colored in your classification.
    The average schwa is noticeably ɨ-colored in some dialects (especially South-Eastern). However, it isn't normally the case in Moscow or St.Petersburg.
     
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