15th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-15)

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

Why Don't Russians Answer my Questions? Finnish Students' Problems in Producing Russian Interrogative Intonation

Anne Kuosmanen (1), Viola de Silva (2)

(1) University of Tampere, Finland
(2) University of Jyvaskyla, Finland

High rising melodic pattern is an essential feature of yes/no-questions and elliptic questions in Russian, because it distinguishes between the declarative and interrogative sentence. According to our experience of teaching Russian to Finnish university students, the learning of this melodic pattern is difficult for Finns. This paper reports the results of two experiments on ten Finnish university students producing Russian yes/no-questions. In a production experiment students acted roles in a simple dialogue including five different questions without question words. The melodic patterns of students' outputs were acoustically analysed and compared with patterns produced by native speakers. In addition, a perception experiment was carried out with native speakers of Russian who were asked to evaluate, whether the outputs of the Finnish students sounded to them as declaratives or interrogatives.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Kuosmanen, Anne / Silva, Viola de (2003): "Why don't Russians answer my questions? Finnish students' problems in producing Russian interrogative intonation", In ICPhS-15, 523-526.