Vowel reduction in Russian: No phonetics in phonology

Pavel Iosad*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Much recent work in phonology concentrates on the role of sonority in the phenomenon of vowel reduction, capitalizing on two facts: that reduction involves raising and/or shortening and that higher vowels and schwa are normally interpreted as having low sonority. This paper presents a different approach to vowel reduction in Standard Russian. It is proposed that the apparent sonority-driven effects in Russian are epiphenomenal. In particular, reduction to schwa is outside the domain of phonological computation in Russian, being an artifact of reduced duration. Other types of neutralization arising in vowel reduction are potentially amenable to a sonority-based analysis, but I argue that current approaches to sonority-driven reduction suffer from representational shortcomings. When these shortcomings are rectified, however, sonority is unnecessary as an explicit factor in vowel reduction: standard markedness mechanisms suffice to explain the data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)521-571
Number of pages51
JournalJournal of Linguistics
Volume48
Issue number3
Early online date12 Apr 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012

Keywords

  • REPRESENTATIONS
  • CONTRAST
  • TYPOLOGY
  • GRAMMAR
  • DISPERSION

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