Appendix:Moksha pronunciation

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The following is a very basic outline of Moksha pronunciation. As literature is contradictory on some aspects of Moksha phonology, the following may contain errors.

Vowels[edit]

  • a is a low back unrounded /ɑ/
  • e (in the first or in the stressed syllable) is a mid front unrounded /e/
  • i is a high front unrounded /i/
  • y – the status of this sound is uncertain, Feoktistov gives high central unrounded /ɨ/ (the Russian tvjordoje i sound) in square brackets in his list of Moksha vowels suggesting that it would be used only in Russian loanwords. It is possible that in native words it indicates /i/ with blocked palatalization.
  • o (in the first or in the stressed syllable) is a mid back rounded /o/
  • u is a high back rounded /u/
  • ja appears to be (although there are inconsistencies in literature) a low front unrounded /æ/.
  • There are several ways of indicating the mid central vowel /ə/ (schwa)
    • since e and o natively do not occur in an unstressed syllable they are used to indicate a schwa
      • e indicates a schwa with preceding palatalization
      • o indicates a schwa without preceding palatalization
    • tvjordyj znak is used to indicate a schwa in the first syllable, this is likely to result in stress shifting from the first syllable.

Feoktistov calls schwa one of the "narrow vowels" (the others are i and u), according to him non-narrow vowels draw stress from narrow vowels, e.g., ingəl'dams. If all the vowels in a word are either narrow or non-narrow, then stress falls on the first syllable.

The front vowels palatalize preceding consonants. However according to Poljakov, š and ž are always hard, č, in turn, is always soft according to him.

Consonants[edit]

The sequences lx, l'x, rx, r'x, jx indicate the voiceless /l̥, l̥ʲ, r̥, r̥ʲ, j̊/. The referenced literature doesn't make a mention of the sequences ix and yx, their character remains uncertain.

Unlike in Russian, in Moksha word final voiced obstruents are not devoiced before pausa.

There is simple assimilation by voicedness – ds and d's' become ts and t's'.

Inconsistencies in literature[edit]

Judging by the comprehensive Mordwinisches Woerterbuch by Heikki Paasonen (written in UPA), a word final schwa is prohibited in Moksha, words orthographically written with a final e are always transcribed by him as ending with a low front unrounded vowel (ä in his transcription).

Russian sources are ambiguous, for example, Аннотация (..) учебного плана (..) 020208.65 «Биохимия» (PDF) [Outline of the curriculum [for the program] "Biochemistry"] makes the following statement:

выпадение гласного звука в конце слова, если это Ъ (редуцированный гласный): панда – пантт (гора - горы), пильге – пилькт (нога – ноги)

Translated: elision of a word-final vowel [referring to the elision type of nominals], if this vowel is Ъ ["hard sign" is commonly used to refer to a schwa] (reduced vowel [yet again a schwa is meant]): panda – pantt (mountain – mountains), pil'ge – pil'kt (leg – legs).

Similar ambiguous statements can be found in other Russian descriptions of Moksha vowel values, for this reason Paasonen's phonetic transcription is assumed to be the standard reference.

References[edit]