Slovenian: Distribution of the stressed short /a/

2wrbk

Member
Polski
Hello. According to the research of Peter Jurgec (who, along with many other scholars, has proven that contemporary Standard Slovene doesn't feature phonemic vowel length), the traditional stressed short /a/ in words such as brat (so when it occurs in stressed, closed word-final syllables) is realized with considerable centralization ([ɐ] rather than [a], though this centralized vowel is often written as [ʌ], which is phonetically incorrect). My question is: where else does it occur? Can that centralized vowel occur in other environments than in stressed, closed word-final syllables? One word on Wiktionary that I was able to find that contains the traditional stresed short /a/ in a different environment is ali, which is supposed to be pronounced with a short vowel when it means "or" and with a long vowel when it's used as ali ... ali ("either ... or"). Surely both collapse to /ˈali/ in contemporary Standard Slovene? As far as I can see, the correct syllabification of this word is a-li, so the syllable is both open (rather than close) and word-initial (rather than word-final).

Another word with this vowel is ampak ("but"), which is supposed to be pronounced /ˈampak/ in traditional Standard Slovene. But in contemporary Standard Slovene, it seems to me that it wouldn't be pronounced [ˈʌmpak] but [ˈampak] (with the same open [a] as in danes [ˈdanəs], which in the traditional pronunciation had a vowel longer than the first one in ampak) because the stressed syllable isn't word-final (even though it's closed).

How common are such occurences of the traditional short /a/ (I'm talking only about the stressed vowel)? Are these an exception to the rule?
 
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  • Panceltic

    Senior Member
    Slovenščina
    Hello. You are absolutely right, the short stressed /a/ is very centralized. I would go as far and say it is actualy realized as [ə] in central Slovenian (which admittedly does this to almost all short vowels, so brat is [brət], kup is [kəp] and miš is [məʃ]).

    About ali and ampak, I had to check the dictionary and it really says they are short! I'm a bit surprised because the "rule" is that short stressed vowels can only appear in the final syllable (with a possible exception of ə). They are absolutely pronounced as [ˈali] and [ˈampak], or [ˈal] and [ˈampək] in relaxed speech. The stressed a in this two words is indistinguishable from any other a.
     

    2wrbk

    Member
    Polski
    I see, thanks.

    One more question: what about the diphthongs aj and av? Words like kraj and pozdrav are supposed to be pronounced with a short a in the traditional pronunciation. In these words, the stressed short /a/ appears in a closed word-final syllable (the syllable codas are /j/ and /v/ as Slovene diphthongs are non-phonemic), so the conditions for the appearance of [ʌ] are met. So, would you say that these words are pronounced [ˈkrʌi] and [pɔˈzdrʌu]? Or do they fall together with what is traditionally analyzed as /aːj/ and /aːv/ (phonetically [ai] and [au]) in words such as bajta [ˈbaita] and pav [ˈpau]?

    Personally, I can't quite decide whether the vowel is [ʌ] or [a] when I listen to the recordings of kraj and pozdrav on Forvo. It's probably [a]. Then again, maybe the speaker has a marked regional accent.
     
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    Panceltic

    Senior Member
    Slovenščina
    You are right, pozdrav has [au̯] and kraj has [aj].

    However, the "centralization" I was speaking about in my previous post, still takes place and [aj] becomes something like [əj]~[ɛj] - kraj [ˈkrɛj], daj [ˈdɛj], igraj [iˈgrɛj], even igrajte [iˈgrɛjtɛ]. Bajta, on the other hand, is always [ˈbajta].
     

    Panceltic

    Senior Member
    Slovenščina
    I believe it is actually called umlaut (preglas) in our dialectology. But it's been ages since I was doing this stuff at university and I don't have any notes to hand.

    It is of course non-standard to pronounce [əj] (typical Gorenjska pronunciation) or [ɛj] (typical Ljubljana pronunciation) in these cases, so when trying to sound "correct" or when reading a pre-scripted text, people tend to pronounce it as [aj] which does feel unnatural.
     
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