pronunciation of prefix пол(у)-

< Previous | Next >

Lorenc

Senior Member
Italian
I have only just noticed that the word полчаса is pronounced with an unreduced 'o', i.e. /poɫt͡ɕɪsˈɐ/ instead of /pəɫt͡ɕɪsˈɐ/.
Would the latter (reduced) pronunciation be possible at all?
More in general, are there any rules as to how the (unstressed) пол- or полу- prefixes, meaning half, be should pronounced?
I looked up some words of this type on Викисловарь and I found /poɫ/ for some of them (полуфинал, полусфера, полуслово, полуслепой) and /pəɫ/ for others (полутьма, полутон, полутень, полусон). The RUW − Das Russisch-Deutsche Universalwörterbuch dictionary has /pəɫ/ for all of these (but not for полчаса). The Russian-Italian Kovalev dictionary has /pəɫ/ for all these words (including полчаса). Sloppy transcriptions or alternative pronunciations?
 
  • Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Пол- ("a half of", in many cases written with a hyphen or even separately: e.g., "пол учебного года") always bears a (secondary) stress and therefore is undreduced.
    Полу- ("half-X") allows some variation but is most typically reduced, bearing no stress.
    Note that "полчеловека" and "получеловек" have two very different meanings. :)
     

    Lorenc

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Полу- ("half-X") allows some variation but is most typically reduced, bearing no stress.
    Ok, thanks. Is there any actual basis to Викисловарь reporting the unreduced pronunciation for some words with полу- ?
    I've checked 8 words I listed in post #1 on forvo and they all have the unreduced pronunciation there (also the ones for which Викисловарь indicates /pəɫ/). Would it be recommendable, for a Russian learner like myself, to pronounce such words with /poɫ/ if unsure?

    Note that "полчеловека" and "получеловек" have two very different meanings. :)
    получеловек is, ASAIK, a half-human, a human-animal hybrid (from mythology, science fiction etc).
    What does полчеловека mean?
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    What does полчеловека mean?
    "One half of a man" (= "половина человека"). "Полъ" meant simply "половина" in Old Russian, but in the modern Russian language it's used only with genitive attributives (usually fusing with those orthographically), or in the derived meanings - namely, "gender" and "floor (of a room)".
    Is there any actual basis to Викисловарь reporting the unreduced pronunciation for some words with полу- ?
    Well, such pronunciation is certainly possible. Especially if the stressed syllable is located far from the prefix. Or the prefix may be simply emphasized.
     
    Last edited:

    Lorenc

    Senior Member
    Italian
    So far I assumed that the unreduced /pəɫ/ pronunciation was a possibility only when пол is the prefix meaning 'half'; however I checked on forvo the pronunciations of получить and, to my surprise, it seems to me that at least 9 out of the 10 pronunciation there use unreduced /poɫ/ ! The speaker of the Kovalev Russian-Italian dictionary also uses /poɫ/ (or thereabout).
    On the other hand out of the six sentences on the forvo page it seems to me that in 5 of them reduced /pəɫ/ (or /pɐɫ/, or similar) is found. Can then unreduced pronunciation of получить be due to overemphasis when reading a single word?
     

    nizzebro

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I found /poɫ/ for some of them (полуфинал, полусфера, полуслово, полуслепой) and /pəɫ/ for others (полутьма, полутон, полутень, полусон)
    I suppose that, despite of that each of these two groups has the same prefix "полу-", the meaning of a stem may affect the emphasis of the prefix.
    The words полуфинал, полусфера, полуслово, полуслепой strongly imply a half of the related entity; these may be opposed to their unprefixed counterparts, while the полутьма, полутон, полутень, полусон are rather on their own as concepts.
     

    Vovan

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Can then unreduced pronunciation of получить be due to overemphasis when reading a single word?
    But of course!:)
    So far I assumed that the unreduced /pəɫ/ pronunciation was a possibility only when пол is the prefix meaning 'half';
    And that is quite true!
    However, if "пол(у)-" has become part of the root, the /о/ is reduced (e.g. полтора́).

    P. S. I'd like to add that I can't quite accept /ə/ as the only "right" variant of the reduced /о/ in пол- and, especially, полу-. The actual sound would differ as to its height (at a minimum) among different speakers, and this is normal.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I had listen to the 6 pronunciation of this words on forvo and it seems to me that they all use an unreduced vowel in the first syllable!
    Is emphasis is to blame again?
    They don't sound particularly emphasized. That position in relation to the stress, however, is really prone to assimilations and dissimilations (for the latter cf. "аккумуля́тор", almost universally pronounced with the unrounded schwa). In these cases, apparently the bilabial plosive is a sufficient factor to influence the articulation. Cf. табор, ша́баш (the second recording on Forvo) and запад, where the labialization seems to be less pronounced.
     

    Lorenc

    Senior Member
    Italian
    They don't sound particularly emphasized. That position in relation to the stress, however, is really prone to assimilations and dissimilations [...]
    I've been thinking a bit about the pronunciation of words beginning with (unstressed) полу- , and I really think it's a matter of vowel assimilation: even when the 'о' is formally unstressed, it seems to be prone to be somewhere in the vicinity of [o] rather than [ə]. It seems to me that this phenomenon affects several other words, such as (affected letter in red): продукто́вый, получи́ть, докуме́нт, пробужде́ние, покупа́ть.
    The word голубо́й should also be affected (same syllabic structure of покупать), but from what I hear on Forvo the o is more reduced (schwa-like) in this particular word. Any comments?
     

    Lorenc

    Senior Member
    Italian
    The lack of directly preceding labial consonants may be the factor.
    Maybe... but I also hear (on Forvo) this assimilation on the majority of pronunciations for госуда́рственный and госуда́рство. Maybe word length has some effect? BTW, as expected, this phenomenon affects identically unstressed <a>, e.g. in разуме́ется, наруша́ть, факульте́т. On the other hand the assimilation seems impossible when a/o is word-initial (eg обувно́й) and also in the за- prefix (e.g. запусти́ть ).
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    On the other hand the assimilation seems impossible when a/o is word-initial
    Yes, obviously, because it's a position of weakened reduction, which normally results in [ɐ] rather than [ə].
    Maybe... but I also hear (on Forvo) this assimilation on the majority of pronunciations for госуда́рственный and госуда́рство. Maybe word length has some effect?
    The stressed vowel (or, rather, its labialization) may, with possible dissimilative effects. Cf. "халахуп".
     
    Last edited:
    < Previous | Next >
    Top