Alexander Palace Forum

Discussions about Russian History => Imperial Russian History => Topic started by: Nathalie on April 22, 2011, 04:37:32 AM

Title: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Nathalie on April 22, 2011, 04:37:32 AM
I have heard, that the spoken Russian before the revolution was a little bit different, than the Russian which is used now - Well I don't mean the grammar (though Im not sure, maybe grammar too), but the accent...
I also read even here somewhere, that it was like "silver troika bells across fresh fallen snow".
Is it correct?
Can a language/accent change within such a -relatively- short time?
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Forum Admin on April 22, 2011, 09:35:44 AM
Yes, it is quite true that the Imperial Russian accent was very different from modern Russian, and some grammar usage as well. I was very lucky to have known a lady, my "tante" Lilly who was born a Princess into an aristocratic Moscow family before the Revolution, and I heard her Russian accent often. It was indeed beautiful, and different from the modern accent.  It was I who found that analogy about the silver bells, and yes, it is true. 

One other interesting difference, for example.  At a Christmas (Orthodox) dinner one year, I toasted the table with "Nastrovya"...Tante Lilly on my right, touched my arm saying "no, no my Dear...not Nastrovya! Only the Polish say that, or Papa to his immediate family...When one has guests, you say "Vashestrova", to YOUR health, in the polite form."  So from then on I toast with "Vashestrovya."  I toasted some "modern" Russians that way once, and they laughed, at how "old fashioned" that was!
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Petr on April 22, 2011, 11:35:43 AM
Yes, it is quite true that the Imperial Russian accent was very different from modern Russian, and some grammar usage as well.

I can confirm this having grown up as an émigré in a Russian family speaking "quaint" Russian. When confronted by modern Russians who are puzzled by both my vocabulary and usage I tell them the Russian I speak is "Russian in a bottle", it has never been subject to the influences that affected and developed the language after the Revolution. Sadly, to my way of thinking, the Bolsheviks greatly coarsened the language (compare Pushkin, Tchutchev and Lermontov to some of the young Bolshevik era poets (other than those that pre-dated the Revolution such as Akhmatova, Tsvetaeva, Mandelshtam)) by deliberately introducing various nationalistic (stripping out foreign words) contractions (viz., "vertalet" for "gelikoptr" and "samolet" for "aroplan") and obliterating the more mannered way of speaking that characterised pre-Revolutionary Russia (viz., your Тётя).  In the process of eliminating whole classes of people who were educated, cultured and had been exposed to various languages (and a more genteel existence) it was inevitable that the language would contract and suffer. The language of public discourse changed as well as the Government used more "revolutionary" and "marxist" rhetoric.  It is the problem of reverting the mean for ideological reasons to the lowest common denominator.  Again, the habit of contracting things (viz., Sovnarkom, Cheka, etc.) pushed the language towards a more short-handed nomenclature.  Furthermore, the terrible experiences of the Stalin era had a deleterious effect on the language. One can't be a "Zek" sitting in a camp and expect to be gracious and mannered and, in any case, to speak in such a way made one immediately suspect. Finally, Russian like any other language is a living thing which reflects its time and place and it is inevitable that the Russian language would have evolved.  Of course, whether the manner in which it evolved was "good " or "bad" is a matter of personal opinion. I should add that I don't like Hip Hop or Rap either even if it is deemed modern urban poetry but then again I live in a bottle.

Petr               
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Nathalie on April 22, 2011, 03:53:14 PM
Thank you for the replies - I hope this thread will shed some new light on this topic..well, new for ME at least:)
Its very interesting for me, because -though I guess its not obvious from my (poorish) English, but forgive me, I'm always in a "rush" when I'm online- I am very much into different languages, I am also teaching a foreign language and such questions interest me...

"The language of public discourse changed as well as the Government used more "revolutionary" and "marxist" rhetoric. "

That is peculiar. In my country, socialism was only introduced in 1945 (well, apart from a brief intermezzo in 1919), but I haven't really noticed any drastic change in our language (considering that I am an ardent reader of classics)
But I can imagine it though..Sounds pretty "orwellish"....

Anyway, that brings up a very good point too (sorry for venting a bit) concerning the evolution and/or devalvation of language(s)...Seems like you consider, that switching to a rather "marxist rhetoric" contaminated the language, at least that is the feeling I get from the post.
But I also think, that languages are like societies, they simply change with time...

"Russian like any other language is a living thing which reflects its time and place and it is inevitable that the Russian language would have evolved. "

Exactly:)

I am very curious though, how does the "old" spoken Russian sound, but I am sure that if I am able to master the "textbook Russian" (and why not-)), I will get the chance to get to know the Russian of the pre revolution days.



Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Nathalie on May 11, 2011, 02:44:52 PM
Fine, I will try to revive the topic - with another question:) (what a surprise...heh)

I've read Robert O. Crummy's book on the Russian aristocracy in the 17th century ("Aristocrats and Serviteurs") where it is written, thatwhen addressing the throne, boyars usually  adopted a self-effacing  tone, referring to themselves as the tsar's slaves, and using a lower class form of their names - a nickname and surname, without the patronymic, "the sign of social distinction".

I wonder was it a tradition throughout the whole Romanov-era?
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Svetabel on May 11, 2011, 11:56:10 PM
Fine, I will try to revive the topic - with another question:) (what a surprise...heh)

I've read Robert O. Crummy's book on the Russian aristocracy in the 17th century ("Aristocrats and Serviteurs") where it is written, thatwhen addressing the throne, boyars usually  adopted a self-effacing  tone, referring to themselves as the tsar's slaves, and using a lower class form of their names - a nickname and surname, without the patronymic, "the sign of social distinction".

I wonder was it a tradition throughout the whole Romanov-era?

Not throughout the whole Romanov-era. I think the middle of XVIII cent. was the end of such "social distinction".
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Mike on May 12, 2011, 04:14:38 AM
In 1776, Catherine II ordered to stop using the expression "your obedient slave" in petitions submitted to the monarch, and to replace it with "your loyal subject".
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Alixz on May 14, 2011, 09:54:53 AM
In response to Petr and Reply #2 - I see all language as a living thing and I agree that all languages change as time goes on.

I know this thread is about the Russian language, but English is also a fluid and living thing and there are many words and uses of words that I (who also live in a bottle I think) don't pretend to understand.  I have to ask sometimes what the speaker is saying as the meaning of words I have used all of my life seem to have changed just in the past 10 years.

English has become coarser and even in our "politically correct" environment, we speak words and phrases that no one would have used in my youth without being publicly ostracized or at the very least, ignored.

Enunciation has become passe and even those students who should be proud of their learning and English skills will let their language skills devolve as soon as they go outside the school.  One must slur words and use improper pronunciation and even incorrect words in order to "fit in" with others.

And I can't even get started on texting and what it has done to English and spelling.

Is that also true of Russian or any other language which is now texted continuously?  Has a new "text Language" been born in every country and in every language like it has been born in English?
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Petr on May 16, 2011, 06:06:14 AM
Of course one also has to ask whether the rise of electronic communication has had a pernicious effect on language (and not only Russian). The demise of the letter (apparently the post office is discussing eliminating first class mail) has eliminated a form of communication that has produced wonderful language that could not have helped but have a salutary effect on the spoken word.

Soon we will all be speaking in 140 character "sound bites". OMG 

Petr
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Forum Admin on May 16, 2011, 09:48:13 AM
Ok. who today can read AND understand this? (hint they are both in English!)

 Whilom, as olde stories tellen us,
   Ther was a duc that highte Theseus;
   Of Atthenes he was lord and governour,
   And in his tyme swich a conquerour,
   That gretter was ther noon under the sonne.
   Ful many a riche contree hadde he wonne,
   What with his wysdom and his chivalrie;
   He conquered al the regne of Femenye,
   That whilom was ycleped Scithia,
   And weddede the queene Ypolita,
   And broghte hir hoom with hym in his contree,
   With muchel glorie and greet solempnytee,
   And eek hir yonge suster Emelye.

or this:

Unthrifty loveliness, why dost thou spend
Upon thyself thy beauty's legacy?
Nature's bequest gives nothing but doth lend,
And being frank she lends to those are free.
Then, beauteous niggard, why dost thou abuse
The bounteous largess given thee to give?
Profitless usurer, why dost thou use
So great a sum of sums, yet canst not live?
For having traffic with thyself alone,
Thou of thyself thy sweet self dost deceive.
Then how, when nature calls thee to be gone,
What acceptable audit canst thou leave?
Thy unused beauty must be tomb'd with thee,
Which, used, lives th' executor to be.


(first: Chaucer "The Knight's Tale",  second Shakespeare Sonnet IV)
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Alixz on May 16, 2011, 10:39:29 AM
I didn't know the first was Chaucer, but I recognized the second as Shakespeare before I got to your note.  (Iambic pentameter)


And without studying it, I wouldn't know what they were talking about, although I do know that when a movie was made of Romeo and Juliet, by the middle of the movie most in the audience has adjusted their ears to Elizabethan English and by the end it actually was making sense!

Good call, though, even English has been much changed since Elizabeth I.

Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Fyodor Petrovich on May 27, 2011, 06:59:16 AM
Enunciation has become passe
What evidently also has become passé is people taking the time and effort to get their diacritics right! Ô mœurs, ô temps !

Quote
And I can't even get started on texting and what it has done to English and spelling.

Is that also true of Russian or any other language which is now texted continuously?  Has a new "text Language" been born in every country and in every language like it has been born in English?
Yes, but in the case of Norwegian, at least, it's fast dying again, as people start to treat SMS more like regular notes (with built-in, typing-reducing spell check) instead of pay-per-character telegramms.

BTW try to read any medieval manuscript text, even the Bible, and you'll hardly be able to decipher it without a knowledge of all the abbrevations of the monkish 1337/leet-speak.

Quote from: Petr
Of course one also has to ask whether the rise of electronic communication has had a pernicious effect on language (and not only Russian). The demise of the letter (apparently the post office is discussing eliminating first class mail) has eliminated a form of communication that has produced wonderful language that could not have helped but have a salutary effect on the spoken word.
Reading and writing tends to destroy the natural diversity among people (e.g. dialects.) and to encourage uniformity and confirmity.

Quote from: Forum Admin
Ok. who today can read AND understand this? (hint they are both in English!)

Whilom, as olde stories tellen us,
Ther was a duc that highte Theseus;
Of Atthenes he was lord and governour,
And in his tyme swich a conquerour,
That gretter was ther noon under the sonne.
Ful many a riche contree hadde he wonne,
What with his wysdom and his chivalrie;
He conquered al the regne of Femenye,
That whilom was ycleped Scithia,
And weddede the queene Ypolita,
And broghte hir hoom with hym in his contree,
With muchel glorie and greet solempnytee,
And eek hir yonge suster Emelye.

Are you sure this is Chaucer? This is so easy to understand it's hard to believe it's from the 14th century!

Quote
Unthrifty loveliness, why dost thou spend
Upon thyself thy beauty's legacy?
....

The words and grammar are easy enough to understand, but I have no idea what and whom Shakespeare is talking about.

Quote from: Alixz
Good call, though, even English has been much changed since Elizabeth I.

Compared to many other languages, written English has changed very little since Elizabeth I. What has changed tremendously is the pronunciation. (i.e. the Great Vowel Shift). If you heard Elizabethans talk, you would probably not understand them, as they pronounced it quite differently than you do, even if you could understand what they wrote. E.g. they would pronounce "time" as "teem", archaïc speakers perhaps even as "teemeh". See this great outline. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_vowel_shift#Effect)

Nobody who knows anything more about Russian? What about palatalisation? Did the pre-revolutionary acrolect differ from contemporary standard Russian in that regard?

I know there historically has been rather small dialectical differences within Russia, compared to other, smaller European speech communities, but surely they must have been more pronounced in Tsarist days, when most of the population couldn't read and write? And since the upper classes often learnt their Russian from village nurses, perhaps they sometimes picked up some dialectic Russian?
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: TimM on May 27, 2011, 04:05:12 PM
Quote
And I can't even get started on texting and what it has done to English and spelling.

Yeah, this compressing and merging of words is getting dangerously close to Newspeak (Newspeak was the language spoken in George Orwell's novel 1984, for example, Ministry Of Truth was Minitrue).

Was Orwell decades ahead of his time?  It seems so.
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Fyodor Petrovich on May 28, 2011, 03:50:34 AM
Quote
And I can't even get started on texting and what it has done to English and spelling.

Yeah, this compressing and merging of words is getting dangerously close to Newspeak (Newspeak was the language spoken in George Orwell's novel 1984, for example, Ministry Of Truth was Minitrue).

But such things are not a result of SMS language. You muddle things because you have read more science-fiction than medieval manuscripts, I presume.
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Alixz on May 28, 2011, 10:25:39 AM
Tim is right.  Already we have combined the names of Hollywood Celebrities  Ben and Jennifer are Benifer.  Tom and Katie became TomKat.

We are not too far from Newspeak as we "speak".

I believe that Orwell was ahead of his time as are most SciFi writers.

And, in case you have forgotten, "Big Brother Is Watching You" and has been for a very long time.
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Forum Admin on May 28, 2011, 10:47:57 AM
Tante Lilly told me specifically that the Russian upper class accent was most specific and any "middle" or "lower" class pronunciation learned from nurses would not be tolerated. Remember that Alexandra got rid of the girls' first Scottish nurse because their English was starting to have a Scots pronunciation and that would not do.  Further, the upper class Petersburg accent was distinct from the Moscow accent, and that after the Revolution, in Paris, she could always tell the Petersburg from the Moscow (and each thought their accent was more "proper"... Moscow thought the Petersburg had been too influenced by French, Petersburg thought the Moscow was less "civilized". LOL)
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Alixz on May 28, 2011, 10:59:55 AM
What a complex problem it must have been to parents.  They wanted "English" nannies, but they also wanted their children to speak proper Russian.

It is well known that children pick up language skills at a very young age in a much easier way then trying to learn as adults.  They spoke in the way the heard adults around them speaking.

If the adults (nannies and nurses) had accents from other countries or other parts of Russia then the children would most naturally learn that from hearing it constantly.
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: TimM on May 28, 2011, 05:20:43 PM
Quote
Already we have combined the names of Hollywood Celebrities  Ben and Jennifer are Benifer.  Tom and Katie became TomKat


That's true as well.
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Fyodor Petrovich on May 29, 2011, 04:13:35 AM
Tim is right.  Already we have combined the names of Hollywood Celebrities  Ben and Jennifer are Benifer.  Tom and Katie became TomKat.
We are not too far from Newspeak as we "speak".

What on Earth do these trivial nicknames of insignificant pop idols from Lala-Land have to do with the serious, political issue of Newspeak? To call the War in Iraq "Operation Iraqi Freedom", that is Newspeak, as negative or problematic words such as "war" do not exist in Newspeak, according to Orwell. (Unless it's in a totally positive, but hollow propaganda sense, as in "The War on Terror".)

Quote
I believe that Orwell was ahead of his time as are most SciFi writers.
As great as many sci-fi writers are, none (?) of them prophecized the thing that is currently changing our world the most: The Internet.  

Quote
And, in case you have forgotten, "Big Brother Is Watching You" and has been for a very long time.
My neighbours are watching me too. Should that make me feel secure or scared?

Quote from: Forum Admin
Tante Lilly told me specifically that the Russian upper class accent was most specific and any "middle" or "lower" class pronunciation learned from nurses would not be tolerated. (...) Further, the upper class Petersburg accent was distinct from the Moscow accent, and that after the Revolution, in Paris, she could always tell the Petersburg from the Moscow (and each thought their accent was more "proper"... Moscow thought the Petersburg had been too influenced by French, Petersburg thought the Moscow was less "civilized". LOL)
Yeah, but hasn't anybody described what these differences amounted to in practical terms?

Quote
Remember that Alexandra got rid of the girls' first Scottish nurse because their English was starting to have a Scots pronunciation and that would not do.
She was Irish. (But, interestingly, Protestant and had worked in Belfast, with its strong Scottish connections.)
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Alixz on May 29, 2011, 08:08:51 AM
Our current political correctness is a huge example of Newspeak.  We no longer call a problem and problem - it is an issue.

As you said, we no longer go to war - we do "police duty" or some other such "gentler" term.  But as to naming the "operations" that has been going on since the second world war.  It is nothing new.

Also, have you read Orwell's 1984?  Big Brother is Watching You means that nothing you do or say will go unnoticed by the government and that makes me feel very "Unsafe".  Also everyone in 1984 has to take their "medication" or "happy pill".  The population was kept quite and easily managed.  Also sounds like just about every anger management ruling and medication prescription being given out to hundreds of thousands on a daily basis.

And sci fi writers have predicted the Internet, but not as a whole.  I remember reading a book when I was younger (not by one of the flashy better known authors) where he predicted (in his story line) that we would get our newspapers from a machine that printed them out right in our own home from a general source.  Sounds like the Internet and a home computer and a printer to me.

Also in his story, glasses were an anachronism and everyone either had surgery or wore contact lenses.  Everyone had air conditioning in their homes and cars.

This book was written in the 1950s.

But this has nothing to do with pre revolutionary spoken Russia, so we should probably get back to that topic.

Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Fyodor Petrovich on May 29, 2011, 09:36:18 AM
I am glad we agree on Newspeak being something more serious than stupid celebrity nicknames.

Quote from: Alixz
Also, have you read Orwell's 1984?
No, but I'm quite familiar with its content and message.

Quote
Also everyone in 1984 has to take their "medication" or "happy pill".  The population was kept quite and easily managed.  Also sounds like just about every anger management ruling and medication prescription being given out to hundreds of thousands on a daily basis.
Good point.

Quote
And sci fi writers have predicted the Internet, but not as a whole.  I remember reading a book when I was younger (not by one of the flashy better known authors) where he predicted (in his story line) that we would get our newspapers from a machine that printed them out right in our own home from a general source.  Sounds like the Internet and a home computer and a printer to me.
Not exactly, since he didn't predict the interactivity, boundlessness and new, virtual reality of the Internet.

BTW for those of you prescriptivists who deplore the decay of modern language usage, here is a royalty-themed example which even I bemoan: Chequy vs. Battenburg (http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php?topic=7633.msg485620#msg485620)
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: TimM on May 30, 2011, 02:03:12 AM
Quote
As great as many sci-fi writers are, none (?) of them prophecized the thing that is currently changing our world the most: The Internet.
 

Arthur C. Clarke wrote a short story in 1965 called Dial F For Frankenstein.  It said story, there is an Internet like AI that causes major problems.
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Fyodor Petrovich on May 31, 2011, 05:27:12 AM
Arthur C. Clarke wrote a short story in 1965 called Dial F For Frankenstein.  It said story, there is an Internet like AI that causes major problems.

Interesting, as I see that one of the inventors of the web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, credits it as an inspiration.
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Alixz on May 31, 2011, 09:08:08 AM
The topic is  PRE REVOLUTION SPOKEN RUSSIAN.
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Mike on May 31, 2011, 11:19:43 AM
Well, putting the discussion back on track -

Educated people in pre-revolutionary Russia were using two major types of pronounciation: (1) St-Petersburgian and (2) Moscowian. Type 1 was conceived as more stringent and official, with all the letters clearly pronounced. Many users - government officials, officers and their families - were ethnic Germans, Swedes, Poles and other non-native or first-generation speakers. The standard of Type 1 pronounciation was defined and maintained by the actors of Imperial Alexandriinsky theater in SPb. Type 2 was viewed as more liberal, easy-going and genuinely Russian, without foreign influences. Its standard was maintained by the actors of Imperial Maly theater in Moscow.
The differences between these two types are alive even today - but after the revolution the Moscow pronounciation is considered more official, while Type 1 remained the distinction and pride of inteligentsia and back in the 40s-50s was conceived as a certain "ancien regime" feature.
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Sunny on August 12, 2011, 06:41:50 AM
I know this is the thread for spoken russian, but i didn't know where to put my question.
I've studied russian, and i am completely sure i've always written the name Tatiana this way: TAT'JANA = Татьяна
But in a postcard of OTMA formal photo 1906, i saw it this way: Татіана. I already knew that before 1917 they wrote я as "ia" but why didn't they put я? I'm stunned because this change the pronunciation!

This is the pic.   http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/204/1906otma3.jpg/ (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/204/1906otma3.jpg/)

Thanks!

Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: MarshallHowell on March 30, 2012, 12:30:47 PM
I read somewhere that russian aristocrats spoke russian with a french accent. Is this accurate as far a describing the pre-revolution aristocratic russian accent?
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Forum Admin on March 30, 2012, 12:42:01 PM
No. Pre Revolutionary Russian was not with a "French" accent.  There was distinct difference, however, between the Petersburg and Moscow aristocratic accents.  Moscow accused P'burg of sounding more "European" and that theirs was the "true Russian"...P'burg of course thought Moscow was more "provincial"...LOL
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Sunny on March 31, 2012, 08:37:31 AM
There was distinct difference, however, between the Petersburg and Moscow aristocratic accents.  Moscow accused P'burg of sounding more "European" and that theirs was the "true Russian"...P'burg of course thought Moscow was more "provincial"...LOL


I read about it in "Doctor Zhivago"
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Inok Nikolai on March 31, 2012, 11:46:18 AM
I know this is the thread for spoken russian, but i didn't know where to put my question.
I've studied russian, and i am completely sure i've always written the name Tatiana this way: TAT'JANA = Татьяна
But in a postcard of OTMA formal photo 1906, i saw it this way: Татіана. I already knew that before 1917 they wrote я as "ia" but why didn't they put я? I'm stunned because this change the pronunciation!

This is the pic.   http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/204/1906otma3.jpg/ (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/204/1906otma3.jpg/)

Thanks!



It is simply the difference between the older, fuller forms of first names (which nowadays are considered the "Church" spelling, since they correspond to the Saints' names as they occur in religious texts) and the more popular shorter forms:

Татiана / Татьяна

Илiя / Илья

Димитрiй / Дмитрий

Сергiй / Сергей
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Превед on November 04, 2013, 06:36:01 PM
Does Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna exhibit any features of the Pre-Revolutionary accent in her speech, as heard in connection with the current Quatercentenary?
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ri7geUgWVFM (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ri7geUgWVFM)
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Tsarfan on November 04, 2013, 07:27:12 PM
For perhaps the best English-language description of the evolution of written and spoken Russian throughout the 19th century, one should read Orlando Figes' Natasha's Dance.  In fact, one should read this book for several other reasons.  It examines the cultural history of Russia in a way that political and social histories barely touch, much less fully explore . . . and it ties that cultural history coherently into the social and political movements of the time.  I would go so far as to say that trying really to grasp what happened in Russia in the century leading up to the revolution is all but impossible without resort to this book.
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Превед on November 04, 2013, 07:50:29 PM
For perhaps the best English-language description of the evolution of written and spoken Russian throughout the 19th century, one should read Orlando Figes' Natasha's Dance.

Does it really delve into linguistics? I.e. the issue of palatalisation?

Here (http://adellijke-taal.weebly.com/praat-de-adel-met-een-accent-zo-ja-waar-komt-dat-vandaan.html) is for example a wonderful brief insight into aristocratic Dutch. (Which you can hear shades of in Princess Beatrix's speech, as it is her "private mother tongue".) With sound samples. I wonder if something similar can be found for Russian?
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Svetabel on November 04, 2013, 10:26:06 PM
Does Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna exhibit any features of the Pre-Revolutionary accent in her speech, as heard in connection with the current Quatercentenary?
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ri7geUgWVFM (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ri7geUgWVFM)

I'd say only a slight accent of a person who knows several languages and possibly a slight Georgian accent. Very good and clear modern Russian anyway.
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Tsarfan on November 05, 2013, 06:27:23 AM
Does it really delve into linguistics? I.e. the issue of palatalisation?

No.  It's really more philological and etiological in its approach.
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Forum Admin on November 05, 2013, 09:04:27 AM
Does Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna exhibit any features of the Pre-Revolutionary accent in her speech, as heard in connection with the current Quatercentenary?
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ri7geUgWVFM (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ri7geUgWVFM)

I heard my late "Tante Lilly" speak in a perfect pre-Revolution accent in Russian many many times (it was a delight to listen to her recite her favorite Pushkin poems, she was born a Grafina Tarasova in Moscow in 1902 and lived until 1997).  Maria has absolutely no trace of the pre-Imperial accent whatsoever.
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Превед on November 05, 2013, 10:54:55 AM
Thank you all three, for your answers. Seems like the hunt for sound proof (in both senses of the word) of that elusive pre-Revolutionary accent of the FA's Tante Lilly and others continues, à la Proust and his evocations of the ancien-régime French of the family cook Françoise and the Duchesse de Guermantes.
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Forum Admin on November 05, 2013, 11:25:55 AM
I found this online.  It gives you some small idea of the accent and pronunications.

http://www.russian-records.com/details.php?image_id=7238
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Превед on December 31, 2013, 05:56:50 PM
I found this online.  It gives you some small idea of the accent and pronunications.
http://www.russian-records.com/details.php?image_id=7238

Lovely song, but hard to tell if very distinct pronunciations are due to a different accent or peculiar pronunciation when singing.

But I just found something interesting in an old pre-Revolutionary Russian grammar I inherited. In "Russisk grammatik" (1916, publisher: Gad), Holger Pedersen, Professor of Copenhagen University says that while the standard Moscow pronunciation has akanye (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akanye)....

"Men under inflydelse af den skrevne form, andre dialekter og grammatisk analogi udtales i Petrograd ubetonet -o i slutningen av af et ord ofte som å; og denne udtale turde endogså være at anbefale udlændinge." (p 12)
=
But due to influence from the written form, other [Northern okanye] dialects and grammatical analogy, unstressed -o at the end of words is often pronounced å [= o] in Petrograd; and this pronunciation may even be recommended to foreigners.

Sounds like this hyper-correct, archaïc spelling pronunciation was a prestigeous, more cosmopolitan standard.

I wonder if Professor Pedersen, who BTW was born just north of the new Dano-German border in 1867, published Albanian fairytales and took his doctorate on "aspiration in Irish" ever had tea at Видёре (Hvidøre) and listened to Maria Fyodorovna's pronunciation!
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Forum Admin on December 31, 2013, 06:04:30 PM
Yes, Tante Lilly's accent was a very precise, clear and light one.  The o was a soft and light sound.  Also, Moscow's elite and Petersburg's had slightly  different accents. Moscow felt Petersburg was too "French" and Petersburg felt Moscow's was too "provincial". LOL. 
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Petr on January 02, 2014, 11:19:28 AM
Also Alixz alluded in an earlier post to the fact that nannies and governesses had a possible impact. We had a family friend whose mother was a Princess Belosselsky-Belozersky and who had been brought up with English nannies and governesses (the family was well known as Anglophiles) and he spoke Russian with an English Accent (it didn't hurt that he later went to an English Boarding School). However, my mother had both an English and French governess (plus she spent her youth in Belgium) so her Russian (and English)  had what I believe was a slight French accent (she was also born in St. Petersburg) so who knows what was the dominant influence. That is what makes the study of languages so fascinating.  I've heard said that a trained linguist can place you within twelve miles of the place of your birth.       
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Kalafrana on January 03, 2014, 03:20:24 AM
Petr

This is very interesting.

'I've heard said that a trained linguist can place you within twelve miles of the place of your birth.'       

I think the linguists would have trouble with me, as I moved away from the place of my birth after my first six weeks! However, it has been said of me that I have a touch of Teesside (the area around Middlesbrough, north-east England) in the way I say 'hello', and that is where we were living when I learned to speak.

Ann
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Превед on January 03, 2014, 06:05:44 PM
It's intriguing that it's often said that Russian had and has, considering its vast size, relatively little dialectal variation, yet Rasputin is described as speaking "an almost unintelligible Siberian dialect".
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Inok Nikolai on January 04, 2014, 03:36:18 PM
I've heard said that a trained linguist can place you within twelve miles of the place of your birth.      

The famous Russian lexicographer, V. I. Dahl, son of a Danish immigrant, was credited with a similar talent.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Dahl

When visiting the new colonies of his native Novo-Rossia, Dahl enjoyed listening to the new settlers speaking, whereby he was able to identify where each of them had come from in the Russian Empire.

Once he was approached by two "monks" who were gathering alms for their monastery. When he asked them where their monastery was located, they told him in Novgorod. Whereupon he reported them to the local police. An investigation revealed that they were not monks at all, but impostors. When asked how he knew, Dahl replied that they did not speak a Novgorodian dialect.
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Превед on January 04, 2014, 04:14:36 PM
The famous Russian lexicographer, V. I. Dahl, son of a Danish immigrant

His father, Dr. Johan Christian von Dahl (for starters, a cool mix of Danish and German in that name!), Statskiy Sovyetnik, hailed from Preetz (originally Slavic Po-rece = On-the-river) in Holstein, fittingly located on the old northwesternmost border of the Slavic and Germanic languages (the river Schwentine (originally: Sventana - the holy one), the Limes Saxoniæ) and came to Russia (through an uncle) no doubt as a part of the "Holsteinian entourage" of the Holstein-Gottorp-Romanovs.
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Inok Nikolai on January 04, 2014, 04:25:50 PM
The famous Russian lexicographer, V. I. Dahl, son of a Danish immigrant

His father, Johan Christian von Dahl (for starters, a cool mix of Danish and German in that name!) hailed from Preetz (originally Po-rece = On-the-river) in Holstein, fittingly located on the old northwesternmost border of the Slavic and Germanic languages (the river Schwentine (originally: Sventana - the holy one), the Limes Saxoniæ) and came to Russia (through an uncle) no doubt as a part of the "Holsteinian entourage" of the Holstein-Gottorp-Romanovs.

Interesting details.

Actually, his father was summoned to Russia by Empress Catherine II, who had heard of his linguistic talents and subsequently appointed him Court Librarian.
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Превед on January 04, 2014, 04:43:22 PM
Actually, his father was summoned to Russia by Empress Catherine II, who had heard of his linguistic talents and subsequently appointed him Court Librarian.

The Danish Biographic Encyclopædia gives a more mundane story: After high school studies in Ribe in Denmark, an uncle in Russian service arranged for him to go to St. Petersburg as a tutor in the household of Collegiate Assessor Freytag. He got engaged to the daughter of the house and with the aid of his father-in-law, he studied medicine in Germany. Back in Russia he ended up as Medicinal Inspector of the Black Sea Fleet. (The creation of another Dano-Russian: Cornelius Cruys), hence Vladimir Dal' / Valdemar Dahl's childhood in Novo-Russia.
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Превед on January 04, 2014, 05:09:01 PM
From Danish genealogical sites, it seems not impossible that the uncle (also called Johan Christian Dahl), who had studied at the University of Copenhagen, was the linguist in Catherine II's service.
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Превед on January 06, 2014, 03:27:28 PM
Notwithstanding the details of the various members of the Dahl family, it doesn't cease to amaze me how many prominent subjects of the Emperor who were descendants of Scandinavians or more exotic races or a mixture of both. From Pushkin to Lenin. I was for example amazed that when doing online research on some rural locality in the fjord country between Bergen and Stavanger in Norway and happening upon the noble Galtung family - it turned out that Pushkin's great grandfather Abraham Gannibal's wife Christina Regina Siöberg was the great granddaughter of Danish Vice-Admiral Lauritz Lauritzson Galtung of Torsnes in Hardanger, Norway. BTW in the same neighbourhood lived a Von Dahl family, apparently unrelated to the Russian Dahls.



Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Превед on January 04, 2015, 07:29:27 AM
But I just found something interesting in an old pre-Revolutionary Russian grammar I inherited. In "Russisk grammatik" (1916, publisher: Gad), Holger Pedersen, Professor of Copenhagen University says that while the standard Moscow pronunciation has akanye (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akanye)....

"Men under inflydelse af den skrevne form, andre dialekter og grammatisk analogi udtales i Petrograd ubetonet -o i slutningen av af et ord ofte som å; og denne udtale turde endogså være at anbefale udlændinge." (p 12)
=
But due to influence from the written form, other [Northern okanye] dialects and grammatical analogy, unstressed -o at the end of words is often pronounced å [= o] in Petrograd; and this pronunciation may even be recommended to foreigners.

Sounds like this hyper-correct, archaïc spelling pronunciation was a prestigeous, more cosmopolitan standard.

Here is a site which explains these okanye dialects with a good map: http://therussianblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/17/dialects-of-the-russian-language/ (http://therussianblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/17/dialects-of-the-russian-language/)
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Превед on January 23, 2015, 12:09:37 PM
Comprehensive Russian Wikipedia article abourt differences between the St. Petersburg and Moscow dialects, also with a historical perspective: Википедия: Различия в речи москвичей и петербуржцев (https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%A0%D0%B0%D0%B7%D0%BB%D0%B8%D1%87%D0%B8%D1%8F_%D0%B2_%D1%80%D0%B5%D1%87%D0%B8_%D0%BC%D0%BE%D1%81%D0%BA%D0%B2%D0%B8%D1%87%D0%B5%D0%B9_%D0%B8_%D0%BF%D0%B5%D1%82%D0%B5%D1%80%D0%B1%D1%83%D1%80%D0%B6%D1%86%D0%B5%D0%B2)

Some extracts:
В дореволюционные времена произношение «э» считалось признаком образованности, хорошего воспитания, культурного лоска. «Електричество» вместо «электричество», «екзамен», «екипаж» произносили простолюдины. Это забавно отразилось в творчестве одного из поэтов того времени, [петербуржца] Игоря Северянина: в погоне за «светским тоном» своих стихов он простодушно нанизывал слова, содержащие «э» («Элегантная коляска в электрическом биеньи эластично шелестела…») или даже заменял букву «е» буквой «э» «просто для шика»: «Шоффэр, на Острова!».
=
In pre-revolutionary times the pronunciation "э" (instead of using a palatalized "e" in foreign loanwords) was a sign of education, good breeding, cultured manners. Commoners said "yelectrichestvo" instead of "electrichestvo", "yekzamen", "yekipazh". It's funnily reflected in the work of one of the poets of the time, the Petersburger Igor Severyanin: In pursuit of a "worldly / mondaine tone" of his poems he ingenuously strung together words containing "э" ("elegant stroller in electrical runout elastically rustled ...") or even replaced the letter "e" letter with "э" "simply for the sake of chicness": "Shoffer*, to the Island**!".

* Shoffer, instead of shoffyer, from French chauffeur, driver.
** Vasilyevsky Island, a favourite upper-class haunt.

Dostoyevsky wrote in "A Nasty Story":
Есть два существенные и незыблемые признака, по которым вы тотчас же отличите настоящего русского от петербургского русского. Первый признак состоит в том, что все петербургские русские, все без исключения, никогда не говорят: «Петербургские ведомости», а всегда говорят: «Академические ведомости». Второй, одинаково существенный, признак состоит в том, что петербургский русский никогда не употребляет слово «завтрак», а всегда говорит: «фрыштик», особенно напирая на звук фры.
=
There are two essential and immutable traits by which you immediately tell the real Russian from the St. Petersburg Russian. The first sign is that all St. Petersburg Russians, without exception, never say, "Petersburgskie Vedomosti" (Petersburger Gazette), but always say: "Akademicheskie Vedomosti (Academic Gazette)*. The second, equally significant, is the sign that the St. Petersburg Russian never uses the word "zavtrak" (breakfast), and always says: "fryshtik" (from German Frühstück, breakfast), especially emphasizing the syllable fry (as in German).

* Perhaps similar to how a Londoner (or a New Yorker) arrogantly would just say "The Times" and not the London / New York Times?
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Превед on January 23, 2015, 02:56:38 PM
Well, putting the discussion back on track -

Educated people in pre-revolutionary Russia were using two major types of pronounciation: (1) St-Petersburgian and (2) Moscowian. Type 1 was conceived as more stringent and official, with all the letters clearly pronounced. Many users - government officials, officers and their families - were ethnic Germans, Swedes, Poles and other non-native or first-generation speakers. The standard of Type 1 pronounciation was defined and maintained by the actors of Imperial Alexandriinsky theater in SPb. Type 2 was viewed as more liberal, easy-going and genuinely Russian, without foreign influences. Its standard was maintained by the actors of Imperial Maly theater in Moscow.

Good example of this is is the prononunciation of the word что, what.
Moscow norm: [ˈʂto] /shto/.
St. Petersburg norm:  [ˈt͡ɕto] - /chto/

The Moscow one is indeed easier on the tongue, more easy-going, while the St. Petersburg one seems strict and pedantic. The strange thing is: The Moscow pronunciation would be much easier for the foreigners in St. Petersburg (Germans, Scandinavians, French) than the St. Petersburg one. The sound [ʂ] or its near equivalent [ç] does not even exist in French. It exists in German, but never in the beginning of a word followed by a consonant. So one would (falsely) assume that the Moscow pronunciation is the sloppy pronunciation of foreigners, and not the other way around!

BTW I suppose it's a parallell to how the most correct German is spoken in the North of Germany, by formerly Low German speakers who speak hypercorrectly, whereas in the South they mix in a fair amount of dialect (coïncidentially replacing [ç] with [ʃ] (e.g. isch instead of ich, compare Low German ik), just like in the Russian example.

Perhaps it's due to the Finns? For Western Finns all those fricative Russian sounds are equally difficult, for Karelian Finns (who have fricatives in their dialects), they are equally easy!
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Превед on November 02, 2018, 04:52:03 PM
Thank you all three, for your answers. Seems like the hunt for sound proof (in both senses of the word) of that elusive pre-Revolutionary accent of the FA's Tante Lilly and others continues, à la Proust and his evocations of the ancien-régime French of the family cook Françoise and the Duchesse de Guermantes.

Here are interviews in Russian with a 106 year old aristocrat who learned to speak in Imperial Russia (and even allegedly was spoken to by Nicholay II as a toddler), Baron Eduard Alexandrovich von Falz-Fein:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZpnYHGcom4 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZpnYHGcom4)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEzu_-KdByE (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEzu_-KdByE)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNkKuhP0GF0 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNkKuhP0GF0)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lavFo6h8g8 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lavFo6h8g8)

His accent does sound a bit different to my ears, more clear compared to modern Russian. Can anyone elaborate?

He has a very interesting biography: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eduard_von_Falz-Fein (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eduard_von_Falz-Fein)
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Mike on November 03, 2018, 04:40:53 PM
He speaks fluent Russian but like a person whose first language is different - French and/or German. His advanced - to say the least - age is also well perceived in his speech.
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Превед on November 03, 2018, 10:07:05 PM
He speaks fluent Russian but like a person whose first language is different - French and/or German. His advanced - to say the least - age is also well perceived in his speech.

What do you think gives off the foreign vibe? Melody / stress / intonation or level of palatalisation of consonants? Does his accent have any traits of the ancien-régime Petersburgian accent?

What is your opinion of the accent in this alleged voice recording of Alexander III? http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php?topic=18988.msg553811#msg553811 (http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php?topic=18988.msg553811#msg553811)
Title: Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
Post by: Превед on November 04, 2018, 09:12:54 AM
Yeah, this compressing and merging of words is getting dangerously close to Newspeak (Newspeak was the language spoken in George Orwell's novel 1984, for example, Ministry Of Truth was Minitrue).

Interestingly this happened already in Imperial Russia and led to a distinct ancien-régime linguistic phenomena:

The terms государь / государыня (lord / lady) were first shortened to сударь / сударыня, then су when used as terms of adress (to superiors). Then eventually only the first c (s) (сЪ in pre-Revolutionary spelling) sound of the word was kept, as a suffix showing respect, and added to words such as yes, no, please, verbs etc.  Much in the same way as "yes, sir / yessir" and "please, ma'am" in English.

They are no longer in active use in Russian. (Already in the decades before the Revolution the usage had become self-humiliatingly servile, über-polite or ironic.) But it can still pop up as relicts in Russian, usually for humourous effect or as an ancien-régime feature, as seen in this commercial for Bank Imperial from the 1990s:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VFjBc9St48 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VFjBc9St48)
The dialogue goes as follows:
Обед у императрицы Екатерины II в последний день Рождественского поста.
Едят все, кроме полководца Суворова.
— А что это у нас граф Суворов ничего не ест, а? — спрашивает императрица
— Так ведь пост, матушка. До первой звезды нельзя. Ждём-с, — отвечает Суворов.
Все прекращают есть, но Екатерина находит выход: «Звезду Суворову Александру Васильевичу!».
=
Dinner at the Empress Catherine II on the last day of the Nativity Fast.
Everybody is eating, except Commander Suvorov.
- And what about our Count Suvorov, he doesn't eat, huh? - asks the Empress
- After the fast, mother-dear. Untill the first star [is visible]. We are waiting, ma'am, Suvorov answers.
Everyone stops to eat, but Catherine finds a way out: "A star for Suvorov, Alexander Vasilyevich!"

I'm not quite sure if it's historically correct to have a courtier adress the Empress as матушка / mother-dear / little mother, but the s-ending in "ждём-c" or "ждёмc" corresponds perfectly to English "[we are] waiting, ma'am". I interpret the joke as the Empress conferring an order on Suvorov just to have him join in the feast.

More about the phenomena in the Russian Wikipedia: Словоерс (https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%A1%D0%BB%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%BE%D0%B5%D1%80%D1%81)