It's a question from phonetics and it's (I hope you recognized it) from Russian language “окающие и акающие, секающие и шекающие".

I've tried versions like “retaining the unstressed “o” and “a” and it seems to be wrong.

And there is another version, like "секающие и шекающие”, it is all very grammar oriented moments and needs special definitions that language may lack due to different family language and roots.

I hope I am wrong!

  • 2
    This is about linguistics terminology, so even though it asks for a translation, I consider it in scope, so I am voting to leave it open.
    – LjL
    Feb 4 '20 at 18:14

This is simply called "vowel reduction" in English: акающие or аканье (coming from the verb акать) is "with vowel reduction (of unstressed о)", whilst окающие or оканье (from the verb окать) is "without vowel reduction (of unstressed о)".

There is also яканье, which is usually simply transliterated into yakanye because it is simply a different vowel reduction to /a/ instead of to the standard Russian /i/.

The секающие vs шекающие just refers to dialectal differences in unvoiced sibilant production (cf. sibboleth vs shibboleth from Judges 12:5-6). These are called "hissing" vs "hushing" sibilants depending on pedagogical tradition (e.g. for Russian and for Southern Evenki), but most phonologists would consider the first set "dental"/"alveolar" and the other set "alveolo-palatal", "palato-alveolar" or "retroflex" (etc.) depending on the place of articulation.

Apparently there is also хакающие, where a velar fricative is used. Again, these would just be described as having /x/ instead of /ʂ/ or /s/ where appropriate.

  • 2
    French has a word chuinter. meaning "to pronounce /s/ as /ʃ/, but I know of no Englsh word with this meaning.
    – Colin Fine
    Feb 5 '20 at 0:13
  • @ColinFine Is that 'palatalization' of /s/ to /ʃ/?
    – Mitch
    Feb 20 '20 at 17:11
  • @Mitch Indeed, although its connotations are closer to English lisp; as in, it describes something as a speech impediment. It is also used to describe the screech of owls, the hiss of snakes, the crash of waves.
    – Michaelyus
    Feb 20 '20 at 17:18
  • @Michaelyus Then maybe 'chuinter' != 'palatalization' but 'palatalization' may be an answer to half of the OP?
    – Mitch
    Feb 20 '20 at 17:23

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