Monday, October 27, 2008

Russian Dialects

The Russian language is the most geographically widespread language of Eurasia, the most widely spoken Slavic language and the largest native language in Europe. Therefore, it is no surprise that there are different dialects of Russian, as there are most languages, and is actually surprising how few dialects there are in Russia.

Some linguists divide Russian dialects into two groups: Northern and Southern regional dialects, with Moscow lying in the transition zone between the two. Others divide it into three sections, Northern, Southern and Central regions, with Moscow lying in the Central region. There are also dozens of smaller variants through out the country.

The dialects differ in their pronunciation, intonation, vocabulary and grammar.

Lomonosov was one of the first people to study Russian dialects in the 18th century and Vlamdimir Dal followed int he 19th century and also compiled a dictionary that included dialectal vocabulary, which was the first of its kind.

Examples of dialectal differences:
  • In Northern Russian the unstressed /o/ is pronounced very clearly.
  • East of Moscow the unstressed /e/ and /a/ following palatalized consonants and preceding a stressed syllable are not reduced to /i/ like the Moscow dialect
  • Many southern dialects palatalize word final /t/s

To listen to samples of different dialects spoken by Russians click here