Northern Russian intonation: Prosodic breaks

2023. №2, 56-88

Sergey V. Knyazev
Vinogradov Russian Language Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia;


This paper analyzes prosodic phrasing in Northern Russian dialects spoken in the Pinezhsky, Plesetsky, Verkhnetoemsky, Mezensky, Leshukonsky, Konoshsky, and Vinogradovsky districts of Arkhangelsk Oblast based on the material of dialectal speech corpora and the author’s tape recordings of dialectal speech made in 1987–1999 (49 hours in total). It deals primarily with the issues related to the local markers of prosodic phrasing, their hierarchy and phonetic means of realization. Based on the performed analysis, I suggest the following break index scale in Arkhangelsk dialects: 0 — break index showing strongest cohesion (absence of prosodic break), typical of boundaries internal to prosodic words (e.g., boundaries between clitics and hosts); 1 — break index marking prosodic word boundaries: marked on the right edge of a prosodic word followed by another prosodic word within the same accentual phrase (by means of reset of the word’s rhythmical structure); 2 — break index marking accentual phrase boundaries: marked on the right edge of an accentual phrase followed by another accentual phrase within the same intermediate phrase (phonetically manifested as a signifi cant — more than 1.5 semitones — tonal drop on a voiced consonant and/or on a poststressed vowel); 3 — break index marking a boundary between an intermediate phrase with nuclear pitch accent and an accentual phrase with non-nuclear pitch accent within the same intonational phrase (using a long, 300–1500 ms, interruption in articulation and high or low boundary tone); 4 — break index marking intermediate phrase boundaries: marked on the right edge of an intonational phrase (by means of high or low boundary tone and an optional pause); 5 — break index marking intonational phrase boundaries: marked on the right edge of an intonational phrase (by means of low boundary tone and an optional pause). The most characteristic features of Arkhangelsk dialects from the perspective of prosodic phrasing are 1) the accomodation
of microprosodic features (tonal drop on voiced consonants) for macroprosodic purposes (marking accentual phrase boundaries); 2) the use of lasting physical breaks in articulation to mark prosodic phrasing within an intonational phrase; 3) the absence of a sraightforward correlation between the pause duration and the depth of prosodic breaks.

For citation:

Knyazev S. V. Northern Russian intonation: Prosodic breaks. Voprosy Jazykoznanija, 2023, 2: 56–88.