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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more



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To find some answers Tim Machan explores the language's present and past, and looks ahead to its futures among the one and a half billion people who speak it. His search is fascinating and important, for definitions of English have influenced education and law in many countries and helped shape the identities of those who live in them.


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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.

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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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