Author Topic: Pre revolution spoken Russian  (Read 37560 times)

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Offline Inok Nikolai

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Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
« Reply #45 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.
инок Николай

Offline Превед

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Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
« Reply #46 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.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2014, 05:02:52 PM by Превед »
Берёзы севера мне милы,—
Их грустный, опущённый вид,
Как речь безмолвная могилы,
Горячку сердца холодит.

(Афанасий Фет: «Ивы и берёзы», 1843 / 1856)

Offline Превед

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Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
« Reply #47 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.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2014, 05:17:01 PM by Превед »
Берёзы севера мне милы,—
Их грустный, опущённый вид,
Как речь безмолвная могилы,
Горячку сердца холодит.

(Афанасий Фет: «Ивы и берёзы», 1843 / 1856)

Offline Превед

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Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
« Reply #48 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.



« Last Edit: January 06, 2014, 03:38:10 PM by Превед »
Берёзы севера мне милы,—
Их грустный, опущённый вид,
Как речь безмолвная могилы,
Горячку сердца холодит.

(Афанасий Фет: «Ивы и берёзы», 1843 / 1856)

Offline Превед

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Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
« Reply #49 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....

"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/
Берёзы севера мне милы,—
Их грустный, опущённый вид,
Как речь безмолвная могилы,
Горячку сердца холодит.

(Афанасий Фет: «Ивы и берёзы», 1843 / 1856)

Offline Превед

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Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
« Reply #50 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

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?
« Last Edit: January 23, 2015, 12:23:11 PM by Превед »
Берёзы севера мне милы,—
Их грустный, опущённый вид,
Как речь безмолвная могилы,
Горячку сердца холодит.

(Афанасий Фет: «Ивы и берёзы», 1843 / 1856)

Offline Превед

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Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
« Reply #51 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!
« Last Edit: January 23, 2015, 03:02:31 PM by Превед »
Берёзы севера мне милы,—
Их грустный, опущённый вид,
Как речь безмолвная могилы,
Горячку сердца холодит.

(Афанасий Фет: «Ивы и берёзы», 1843 / 1856)

Offline Превед

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Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
« Reply #52 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=cEzu_-KdByE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNkKuhP0GF0
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
Берёзы севера мне милы,—
Их грустный, опущённый вид,
Как речь безмолвная могилы,
Горячку сердца холодит.

(Афанасий Фет: «Ивы и берёзы», 1843 / 1856)

Offline Mike

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Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
« Reply #53 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.

Offline Превед

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Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
« Reply #54 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
Берёзы севера мне милы,—
Их грустный, опущённый вид,
Как речь безмолвная могилы,
Горячку сердца холодит.

(Афанасий Фет: «Ивы и берёзы», 1843 / 1856)

Offline Превед

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Re: Pre revolution spoken Russian
« Reply #55 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
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
« Last Edit: November 04, 2018, 09:31:57 AM by Превед »
Берёзы севера мне милы,—
Их грустный, опущённый вид,
Как речь безмолвная могилы,
Горячку сердца холодит.

(Афанасий Фет: «Ивы и берёзы», 1843 / 1856)