14th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-14)

San Francisco, CA, USA
August 1-7, 1999

Russian-Yiddish: Phonetic Aspects of Language Interference

Natalia Svetozarova (1), Yuri Kleiner (1), Tjeerd de Graaf (2), Rogier Nieuweboer (2)

(1) University of Saint-Petersburg, Russia
(2) University of Groningen, the Netherlands

In Saint-Petersburg most members of the Jewish population (according to the census data of 1989 more than 100.000 of the 5 million inhabitants) consider Russian their mother tongue. A small group originates from parts of the former Soviet Union (Ukraine, Byelorussia, Latvia, etc.) where their first language was Yiddish, but after living in Saint-Petersburg for more than 30 years all or most of their daily communication takes place in Russian. Since 1995 we have conducted interviews with representatives of this group, which were recorded on tape. The material was analyzed for language contact phenomena such as phonetic interference and code switching, but data on folklore was also gathered. The most important phonetic features studied are palatalisation and final devoicing of consonants, and sentence intonation. For these features, we found interference from Russian, which manifests itself in various degrees for different speakers, depending on their background (family origin, education, etc).

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Svetozarova, Natalia / Kleiner, Yuri / Graaf, Tjeerd de / Nieuweboer, Rogier (1999): "Russian-yiddish: phonetic aspects of language interference", In ICPhS-14, 1397-1400.