Pronunciation of Donetsk

imwitty imwitty at GMAIL.COM
Fri May 30 02:11:45 UTC 2014

This is my response to both, Dan Goncharoff and Laurence Horn and – by now
– to Joel S. Berson.

*Clarification and Rectification.*

First of all, for over 20 years I'm the USA citizen and live in the USA.

Second, I'm totally on the side of the independent Ukraine and against that
separatist movement.

So my reaction is, let's say, totally linguistical as opposed to
political... (;'-)))

Now, a little bit of my background (just to explain my knowledge of Russian
and Ukrainian.)

I was born, raised, and lived in Ukraine for almost 45 years when it was
still Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (and a part of the now defunct
USSR.) I started reading Russian books when I was four (4), and started
“officially” learning Russian in the 1st grade at 7. In the 2nd grade I
started learning Ukrainian – as everybody else living there (the only
exception existed for the children of the military families, which often
moved between different republics.) My last exam on Ukrainian was by the
end of my 2nd year in the university (even though my major was Spanish
(;'-))). Later, due to my last job there, I was traveling a lot for 18
years to other regions of Ukraine, Moldavia, Russia, and Baltic republics,
so I'm quite familiar with different pronunciation of Russian and Ukrainian
in different areas.

So I'm the native and quite educated speaker/reader/writer of both, Russian
and Ukrainian –not at the Russian 101 level.

To Dan Goncharoff:

In Ukrainian it is "Slovyansk" (I have to use here TRANSLITERATIONS to
avoid usual fonts conflict, but I attach the PDF with the original words.)

The Ukrainian original looks a little bit different: there's a sign like
the apostrophe after "v" and before the Russian/Ukrainian letter that looks
like the flipped English capital "R" (it sounds like "ya".) Between the 2nd
"s" and "k" there's a "soft sign", which looks like English "b". BTW, the
same is with Ukrainian version of "Donetsk."

(Neither of the Russian originals has that "soft sign".)

The majority of the press publications uses the TRANSLITERATION of the
Ukrainian version, BUT the American Heritage Dictionary has it as
"Slavyansk", obviously following the Russian version.

This is regarding the SPELLING.

To Laurence Horn:

Regarding the PRONUNCIATION.


"... that unstressed /o/ (or orthographic <o> in both Cyrillic and standard
Romanization) is pronounced [a], something you're taught in Russian 101,
which not all the newscasters have taken. Hence a garden-variety spelling
pronunciation. Same for Donetsk, which I haven't heard as "duh-neck", but
have usually heard as /do'nyEtsk/ (when the first vowel isn't simply
schwazified) rather than /da'nyEtsk/."

First of all, there are huge areas in Russia (Vologda area and Volga river
area, for example) where the "unstressed /o/ (or orthographic <o>" is
pronounced [o] – as in "boy".

Second, in both – Russian and Ukrainian – versions, the 1st (unstressed)
syllable of Slovyansk/Slavyansk AND Donetsk as well, IS schwazified ...
unless you heard the regional (Vologda or Volga river) speaker.

As I mentioned above, difference does exist between Russian and Ukrainian
pronunciation of "Donetsk" as well, because of the soft sign in the
Ukrainian version.

P.S. This is another try: My message was rejected because of the attached
PDF. So I’ll try to send the PDF separately to the individual addresses.
Hope it will go through… (;’-)))

On Thu, May 29, 2014 at 5:11 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      Re: Pronunciation of Donetsk
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> At 5/29/2014 07:41 PM, W Brewer wrote:
> >WB:  Russian <Slavyansk> vs. Ukrainian <Slovyansk>.
> >Which will you choose?
> Are they spelled the same in Cyrillic?  Are they both
> transliterations, with different provenances?
> Joel
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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