According to wikipedia's definition of stress: That emphasis is typically caused by such properties as increased loudness and vowel length, full articulation of the vowel, and changes in tone.

In English, we can easily detect the increase of loudness of a stressed syllable in contrast to unstressed syllables, while in Russian, the contrast in loudness seems hard, at least for me, to detect. Sometimes the stressed syllable is even less loud than the unstressed syllables, for example in these words:

ржано́й [rʐɨˈnɵj] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ru-%D1%80%D0%B6%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%BE%D0%B9.ogg

сообража́ть [sʌʌbrʌˈʐatʲ] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ru-%D1%81%D0%BE%D0%BE%D0%B1%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%B6%D0%B0%D1%82%D1%8C.ogg

where the "stress" in terms of loudness is actually moved forward to another syllable. There are countless examples of this.

Anyway, there are other factors that characterize a stress, such as the above mentioned vowel length and full articulation. These factors are clearly possessed by stressed syllables in Russian. Can I say that the larger loudness is not any characteristic to determine a stress, but rather the other factors?

Besides, does the move of stress raise a change of intonation of a word in Russian?


1 Answer 1


Native speakers quite often "dilute" phonological characteristics of language they speak, especially in a colloquial conversation.

In Slavonic languages, this includes vowel length, vowel quality, loudness, tonal contour, and practically everything else. Note that native speakers intuitively strip off only those characteristics that do not prevent the comprehensibility (by other native speakers), but for a language learner this could be a critical change.

One property that mostly retains in rapid speech is "quality" of a stressed vowel. In other words, a stressed vowel never undergo any reduction.

Your nickname suggests that you are familiar with Chinese. So, in many cases, you can safely assume that stress in Slavonic languages is phonetically close to Chinese 4th (falling) tone, just like in "字", the last word of your nickname (我的名字). Just make sure to produce the tonal contour less vivid, or else your speech would look too emotional.

  • Thanks for your answer. It is normal for native speakers to strip off some characteristics in their speech, but if it is an isolated audio word, the pronunciation was supposed to be extra clear, that all required characteristics would be in place. So I still wonder why in these audios the loudness is still displaced.
    – wodemingzi
    Aug 17, 2020 at 16:15
  • Another thing I have found in audios on Wikipedia/Wiktionary is that a final <й> is often pronounced as [ç]. It this a normal phenomenon?
    – wodemingzi
    Aug 17, 2020 at 16:18
  • 1
    @wodemingzi, Re: "was supposed to be extra clear" — I believe this can be caused by the fact that Wikipedia content is often created by amateurs, and they speak like they do normally, not like people who create phonetic dictionaries. Re: "a final й is often pronounced as [ç]" — not sure what did you mean. The final "-й" can be reduced like [-oj][- ͡oi], but not to [ç]. Aug 17, 2020 at 17:16
  • 2
    @wodemingzi - Pronouncing Russian as [ç] is not typical, it's just an individual characteristics of that particular woman's pronunciation. She devoices (in fact, whispers) the final consonant which is actually a wrong thing to do when it is [j]. Sonorants are not to be devoiced in Russian.
    – Yellow Sky
    Aug 18, 2020 at 12:38
  • 1
    Some South Slavic languages and dialects (Slovene, Croatian, Serbian, etc.) have tonal stress, in some words the tone is rising, in the others the tone is falling. Also, these languages together with Czech and Slovak have phonemic vowel length and, except for Slovene, the stressed vowel can be short and long vowels can well be unstressed. So, consider changing “Slavonic languages” to “Russian” in the answer (2 times).
    – Yellow Sky
    Aug 18, 2020 at 12:50

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