Softness of consonants in the oral speech of Russian-speaking bilinguals in Germany and monolinguals in Russia

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The softness of Russian consonants in the oral speech of two generations of Russian-speaking bilinguals in Germany and monolinguals in Russia is explored. The relevance of the problem is due to the importance of studying the inherited Russian language of bilinguals, comparing the phonetic features of the speech of different generations of bilinguals, as well as their comparison with the features of the speech of Russian native speakers living in Russia, the need to study the state of the Russian language in the diaspora. The research is aimed at identifying the i-glide between the consonant and the subsequent vowel, which indicates the softness of the consonant. The material of the research was 300 syllables with soft consonants in voice recordings of phonetically representative texts developed in 1988 by S.B. Stepanova and used for many years as a universal tool for studying the phonetic aspect of oral speech. Auditory phonetic analysis of combinations of a soft consonant and a subsequent vowel, instrumental analysis with the Praat computer program (version 6.0.26), comparative analysis of the data were applied. The analysis of 300 syllables with soft consonants in various positions in the word showed that in the speech of bilinguals there are cases of i-glide absence: 83 cases (27%) in the speech of children and 32 cases (10%) in the speech of parents. It was proved that such cases most often occur with sonants, soft affricates, as well as some labial and dental consonants in the middle of a word. In the speech of monolinguals, there are almost no such cases. Russian speech in Germany is influenced by the phonetic system of the German language, however, most bilinguals (both children and adults) retain i-glide between a soft consonant and a vowel, which is characteristic of the Russian language. Comparison of the results of studying consonant softness with the results of studying their voicedness shows that softness is a more stable phonetic feature of Russian consonants compared to voicedness. The data obtained may be useful not only to linguists, but also to the authors of Russian language textbooks for bilingual children, as well as Russian language teachers working in German schools.

About the authors

Anastasia Yu. Vikhrova

Lomonosov Moscow State University

ORCID iD: 0009-0000-3836-8976

Candidate of Philology, leading researcher, Laboratory of Experimental Phonetics, Institute of Asian and African Countries

11 Mokhovaya St, bldg 1, Moscow, 125009, Russian Federation

Tatiana V. Lypkan

Saint Petersburg State University

Author for correspondence.
ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5073-3358

7-9 Universitetskaya Naberezhnaya, St. Petersburg, 199034, Russian Federation


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Copyright (c) 2023 Vikhrova A.Y., Lypkan T.V.

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