Variation of sibilants in Belarusian-Russian mixed speech

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Due to the intensive and extensive contact of Belarusian and Russian, mixed Belarusian-Russian speech is a widespread phenomenon in the linguistic landscape of Belarus today. Along with features on other linguistic levels, phonetic-phonological features that differ between both languages appear as variants in such mixed speech. This paper reports an acoustical analysis of three sibilant variables (sj), (tj) and (ʧ j) in instances of mixed speech spoken by 27 speakers. For (sj) and (tj), Center of Gravity calculations suggest a more posterior place of articulation for older speakers and a less posterior one for younger speakers. This is interpreted as a shift towards a more Russian-like pronunciation of younger speakers, which can be explained by an earlier and more intensive exposure to Russian. While no such intergenerational difference is found for (ʧ j), there is a relation between the realization of the two affricates (tj) and (ʧ j), suggesting some general principle of keeping distances between sibilants large enough.


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