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Academic Paper

Title: Vowel Reduction in Russian: No Phonetics in Phonology
Author: Pavel Losad
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: University of Ulster
Linguistic Field: Phonetics; Phonology
Subject Language: Russian
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.


This article appears IN Journal of Linguistics Vol. 48, Issue 3, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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