Author Topic: Alexandra's Russian.  (Read 36539 times)

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AlexP

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Re: Alexandra's Russian.
« Reply #90 on: August 12, 2005, 07:56:05 PM »
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I just thought if anyones interested there are some more topics about Alexandra's Russian:

http://hydrogen.pallasweb.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.cgi?board=alix;action=display;num=1106182026

http://hydrogen.pallasweb.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.cgi?board=alix;action=display;num=1102890945


Thanks, Blanche.

All of the very best.

A.A.

Naslednik Norvezhskiy

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Palatalisation
« Reply #91 on: November 01, 2010, 07:42:07 PM »
I can imagine Alexandra struggled with palatalisation. (I.e. "soft" consonants as opposed to "hard" ones, equivalent to the contrast between "slender" (palatalized) and "broad" (velarized) consonants in Irish and Scottish Gaelic. (So it's ironic that she might have overheard some locals using palatalized consonants at Balmoral, before she went to Russia!)

I think it's funny that palatalisation is so standard in Russian, because in my native Norwegian palatalisation (of l and n) is only found in rural, northern dialects, so it sounds somewhat rustic to me. Apparently palatalisation is one of, if not the most, typical Russian shibboleth, and the trait Russians imitate when they adopt a fake foreign accent. The most glaring example is in the most globally well-known Russian word, "нет", which is NOT pronounced /nyet/ or [njɛt], but /n'et/ or [nʲɛt].
« Last Edit: November 01, 2010, 07:47:55 PM by Фёдор Петрович »

Offline amartin71718

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Re: Alexandra's Russian.
« Reply #92 on: November 01, 2010, 08:01:05 PM »
I'm having some difficulty finding the exact difference between the two. Is the second one just a softer 'y' sound or what?
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Naslednik Norvezhskiy

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Re: Alexandra's Russian.
« Reply #93 on: November 01, 2010, 08:26:10 PM »
I'm having some difficulty finding the exact difference between the two. Is the second one just a softer 'y' sound or what?

They are rather close, but a palatalized n [nʲ] is pronounced by saying a normal n (a so-called alveolar nasal, where the tip or blade of your tongue is against the alveolar ridge, the hard bump behind your upper teeth), but lifting the back of your tongue towards the hard palate, i.e. the area further back in the roof of your mouth.) This will produce a ya- or [j] -coloured n.

You can listen to the Russian pronunciation of "нет" /n'et/ [nʲɛt] here.

BTW in Norway we make fun of palatalisation in the tongue twister: Mainn med hainnhoinn i bainn - /manʲ me: hanʲhunʲ i: banʲ/, meaning, in Northern dialects, "man with a male dog on a leash". :-)

I recently learned that there is quite a bit of palatalisation in Danish too, and that some old Danish spellings, like silent d's, as in Dannemand (Dane or Danish Man), the name of King Frederik VI's mistress Mrs. Colonel Dannemand and their illegitimate children, probably was a sign of palatalisation of the last n.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2010, 08:44:03 PM by Фёдор Петрович »

Offline amartin71718

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Re: Alexandra's Russian.
« Reply #94 on: November 01, 2010, 08:42:15 PM »
So basically to pronounce it right, you rock your tongue back when saying the 'n'. That kind of reminds me of double-tonguing in Band. Also, from what I can tell from the audio, it seems that I have been pronouncing it right. That's heartening!  :)
Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies. - Groucho Marx

Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the wordless tune, and never stops at all. - Emily Dickinson

Naslednik Norvezhskiy

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Re: Alexandra's Russian.
« Reply #95 on: November 01, 2010, 08:50:05 PM »
That's good to hear!

A Russian palatalisation tongue-twister: [vʲ ɪ ˈlʲ i kʲ i j  k n j a zʲ], великий князь, v'il'ik'iy knyaz', Grand Duke!
« Last Edit: November 01, 2010, 08:54:55 PM by Фёдор Петрович »

Offline amartin71718

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Re: Alexandra's Russian.
« Reply #96 on: November 01, 2010, 08:59:55 PM »
*Silence except for the sound of my hopes dashing away*

Well, I've always wondered how that's pronounced. Do you, by any chance, have audio for that too?
Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies. - Groucho Marx

Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the wordless tune, and never stops at all. - Emily Dickinson

Naslednik Norvezhskiy

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Palʲatʲalʲisationʲ
« Reply #97 on: November 01, 2010, 09:08:39 PM »
*Silence except for the sound of my hopes dashing away*
Don't despair! If you don't palatalize, you will just have a typical foreign accent in Russian. There are some short words where the meaning changes if you don't palatalize, but I think in most cases you'll be understood, because of the context. I hope some of our Russian or russophone members will fill in the Russian perspective of (lack of) palatalisation!

Quote
Well, I've always wondered how that's pronounced. Do you, by any chance, have audio for that too?
Here is [vʲ ɪ ˈlʲ i kʲ i j], великий, v'il'ik'iy, grand. Couldn't find any rendering of knyaz.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2010, 09:23:10 PM by Фёдор Петрович »

Naslednik Norvezhskiy

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Re: Alexandra's Russian.
« Reply #98 on: December 13, 2010, 03:38:07 AM »
To get an idea of how people mocked "the German woman" behind her back:
(Though as Felix Yussupov observed, advanced Russian was not the strongest point of many society women, but I guess they would at least have gotten their palatalisation right from the cradle fairy.)

Apparently palatalisation (softening) is one of, if not the most, typical Russian shibboleth. And when Russians imitate a foreign accent, they either don't palatize or they over-palatize with a [j]-sound. The most glaring example is in the most globally well-known Russian word, "нет", which is NOT pronounced /nyet/ or [njɛt], but /n'et/ or [nʲɛt].

Any native Russian speakers who can confirm this?
« Last Edit: December 13, 2010, 03:50:49 AM by Фёдор Петрович »

Offline Inok Nikolai

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Re: Alexandra's Russian.
« Reply #99 on: January 21, 2012, 02:51:58 PM »
This topic (and the related one concerning what sort of accent Empress Alexandra Feodorovna had) has been hashed over pretty thoroughly, but, nevertheless, I would like to add my two cents' worth.

As noted here by other posters, the Empress' contemporaries commented on her English accent when speaking Russian.

(Please totally disregard everything that their jailer, Pankratov, had to say on this topic. He was writing for a revolutionary readership, and had his bosses in mind too. He had to make himself look tough, and the Imperial family bad. He also claimed that the Imperial children had never heard of, or read, the classics of Russian literature. And we all know how false that claim is.)

In the original Russian edition of his memoirs (and not found in the English version) Serge Markov ("Little Markov") made an observation on both the Empress' knowledge of Russian and her accent.

(On S. V. Markov, see: http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php?topic=12122.msg373816#msg373816 )

Pokinutaia Tsarskaia Sem'ia' (Vienna, 1928), p. 24:
http://emalkrest.narod.ru/txt/ub/smarkov.htm

"As someone having spoken to Her Majesty many times, and out of a sense of duty, I must testify that, for a foreigner, Her Majesty spoke Russian very well and quite fluently, without searching for words. But sometimes she did form phrases incorrectly, and [she spoke] with a slight accent, not a German one, but English."

******

For my part, I would like to add that the Empress must have had a decent command of the Russian language in order to write so many letters to her friends in Russian. And those were not simple short notes, but often they were lengthy epistles. Nor did she labor over their composition, but dashed them off. As she herself wrote to A. A. Vyrubova in March of 1918: "...my thoughts and words flow more swiftly than my pen".

I certainly could not have turned out such a voluminous correspondence in a foreign language!

PS:
I think that in some ways it is easier to understand the Empress' letters if one knows both Russian and English.
She would often write in one language, while thinking in the other, thus mixing idioms and expressions.
For example, while writing in English, she would sometimes use the Russian expression "I am breaking my head what to send to you", when she, of course, meant" I'm wracking by brains...".
инок Николай

Offline Sunny

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Re: Alexandra's Russian.
« Reply #100 on: January 21, 2012, 03:47:55 PM »
I am breaking my head what to send to you", when she, of course, meant" I'm wracking by brains...".

Funny! In italian we say literally "i'm breaking my head!", LOL

Thanks, BTW, Inok Nikoai, once again.
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Offline Превед

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Re: Alexandra's Russian.
« Reply #101 on: January 06, 2016, 06:43:37 PM »
PS:
I think that in some ways it is easier to understand the Empress' letters if one knows both Russian and English.
She would often write in one language, while thinking in the other, thus mixing idioms and expressions.
For example, while writing in English, she would sometimes use the Russian expression "I am breaking my head what to send to you", when she, of course, meant" I'm wracking by brains...".

The same expression as ломать голову (над чем-нибудь) exists in her native German: sich den Kopf zerbrechen. Perhaps it was the combination of its existence in both her first native and adopted language that overruled her second native language!
Березы севера мне милы,
Их грустный, опущённый вид,
Как речь безмолвная могилы,
Горячку сердца холодит.

(Афанасий Фет: Ивы и березы, 1843 / 1856)