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2 ORTHOGRAPHY AND PHONETICS 2.1. ORTHOGRAPHY The thirty-three letters of the contemporary Russian cyrillic alphabet are, in order: , б, , г, д, , , , , , , к, л, м, , о, , , с, , у, ф, , ц, , , , , , , , ю, . The names of the letters are as follows: , б, , г, д, , о, , , , к!ко, к, л, м, , о, , , с, , у, ф, , ц, , , , д к,  or ", м#гк к,  обо$о, у, . The Russian writing system reverses, as it were, or ignores, the effects of the automatic phonemic adjustments discussed in Chapter 1. For example, word-final /s/ in different words may be written as either с or з, depending on whether the sound is original /s/ or devoiced /z/. Similarly, /a/ can be written as а or о, depending on whether the sound is original /a/ or reduced /o/. The orthography also pretends, as it were, that consonant palatalization does not exist, or at least that it is of secondary importance. In all of these ways, the orthography helps to maintain transparency in etymology. 2.1.1. CONSONANT LETTERS There is a single set of letters for indicating the hard and soft paired consonants, given here below the roman-letter phonemic correspondents: Hard: / p b f v m t d s z n l r k g x / Soft: / pä bä fä vä mä tä dä sä zä nä lä rä kä gä xä / Letters:  б ф  м  д с  л  к г The letters for indicating the unpaired consonants are the following: / š ž čä šäšä~ščä žäžä c j / Letters:    , ц The phoneme /j/ is indicated either with the letter or with an iotated vowel letter; see further discussion under Section 2.1.5. 2.1.2. VOWEL LETTERS 35 2.1.2. VOWEL LETTERS There are two sets of letters for indicating the Russian vowels, plain and “iotated” (“jotated”): Phonemic status: /a e i o u/ Plain letters:    о у Iotated letters:   (%) ~ ю Note the ambiguity between  “iotated e letter” and  “undotted , i.e., the unstressed iotated o letter”. In pre-1917 orthography, the former was written %. The term “iotated vowel”, as used here, is a letter, not a sounddesignation . In textbooks these are sometimes called “soft” or “softening” vowels. 2.1.3. THE LETTER ё The letter , representing either /jo/, as in лк /jólka/ or у  /ružjó/, or /o/ following a soft paired or, sometimes, following a hushing consonant, as in л /väól/, л /šól/, is today in general use only in textbooks and dictionaries , as well as in the present work. The technical term for the two dots above the letter is dieresis. The notation was proposed in the late 18th century, apparently by the historian and author N. M. Karamzin. The standard Russian press does not use this letter other than for resolving instances of ambiguity, for example, in case it might be unclear whether с /vsäé/ ‘everyone’ or с /vsäó/ ‘everything’ is meant. The dots are normally omitted from the letter when the vowel is not under stress, so the letter is indistinguishable in this position from  which does not alternate with . As a result, it is impossible to predict from the word-form к& alone whether the masculine past will be *к or к. For further discussion of this point, see Chapter 3, Section 3.4.5. Occasional calls for this letter’s wider use have never caught on either with publishers or the Russian public. 2.1.4. THE SPELLING OF SOFT PAIRED CONSONANTS Soft paired consonants are indicated either by writing a consonant letter followed by an iotated vowel letter or, when the soft consonant is not followed by a vowel, by writing a following soft sign (). See # /päátä/, illustrating both possibilities; с!дб shows the spelling of /dä/ as д before a consonant. 36 2. ORTHOGRAPHY AND PHONETICS 2.1.5. THE SPELLING OF /j/ The sound /j/ is expressed by the letter after vowels at word-end or before consonants: ! /čäáj/, ! к /čäájka/. Before a vowel (whether at the beginning of a word or after another vowel), /j/ is expressed by an iotated vowel letter: #ко /jákorä/, д$б /dóbraja/. In such instances, the iotated vowel letter represents two sounds: /j/ plus a following vowel. The frequently-occurring combination of a soft or hushing consonant plus /j/ plus a vowel is expressed by the consonant letter, plus a soft sign, plus an iotated vowel letter; see Isg. с# ю /sväázäju/, $ю /nóčäju/. In the instance of с# ю, the soft sign  serves to indicate the softness of the preceding . In $ю, the soft sign serves merely as a visual separative sign between the unpaired hushing consonant and the following /j/ plus a vowel. At the beginning of a word, the letter does not indicate /ji/ but only /i/: г! /igrátä/. As an exception, the conservative Old Moscow norm pronounces the oblique forms of о' ('м 'м ') as /jím jímäi...


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