Some problems of the russian spelling

But it was the first step of traditional spellings calculation in the texts. The second step was connected with so-called

Some problems of the russian spelling



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Some problems of the russian spelling

S.B. Nevejina

This article deals with the least investigated orthographic aspect of borrowings from European languages. A brief analysis of foreign words from "Vesty-Kuranty. 1600-1639." - a business written language monument of the XVII century - has been given from the point of view of their spelling.

There is no technique of orthographical analysis of the borrowings represented in a medieval written language monument yet. As a rule spelling of borrowings is studied to expose phonetic and morphological features of monuments. Spelling phenomena are examined to indicate changes in pronunciation or grammar but not to demonstrate the system relations in orthographical sphere.

This article could be considered as an attempt to approach solution of the problem by analyzing the foreign word orthographic features from the point of view of their correlation with the Russian orthographical system as a whole. Orthography is known to be: 1) the historically established system of uniform spellings used in a written language; 2) the rules providing for spelling uniformity in the cases variants are possible.

One of the central ideas in orthography is the conception of an orthogram. The orthogram is "the way of spelling having been chosen or being chosen in cases when the choice to letter a sound (a phoneme) is given to a writer."[1, 79] Phonemes may be lettered variously but the choice of letters is always based on certain ideas, so-called orthographic principles, which exist in the language system objectively (i.e. may be not fixed).

The Russian script is the sound (phonetic) script using morphological, phonetic, traditional and symbolical principles. (The last principle is not accepted by all scholars). Considering morphological principle from the point of view of phoneme alternation V. F. Ivanova defines it as the principle of morpheme graphic uniformity provision owing to designation of phonemes in weak positions by the letters that are adequate to phonemes in strong positions. You see, then, the fundamental idea of morphological principle is the concept of control by the strong position. But how to classify a majority of unchecked spellings in foreign words? V. F. Ivanova offeres all of them to be rated the display of traditional principle. Let me not agree with her because positional alternations are the particular case of positional changes on the whole. That is why it would be suitable to accept the following morphological principle definition: it is the principle reflecting non- positional phoneme changes and not reflecting positional changes of phonemes, i.e. when "the choice of the letter for positional alternating phoneme is determined not by the strong position but the origin of phoneme". [5,12] As for foreign word material the origin of phoneme is determined on the basis of its (phoneme) written form in a language-source or on the basis of its reflexes in a borrowing language.

Then phonetic principle is the principle reflecting both positional and non-positional changes of phonemes. Traditional principle is the principle not reproducing changes at all. It is the conservation of habitual writings already not reflecting language reality. (For the XVII century it was spellings of doublet letters: Ь - е, и - i, о - ,  - ф, Ю - А - я /а / because the real opposition of the phonemes lettered by them had been lost and the choice of them was determined by the tradition only.

A kind of the traditional principle is hypercorrect or hyperical spellings. They appear as a result of wrong ideas about correctness, as a result of false etymologizing. Having been fixed in a language such spellings become traditional. It is prematurely to speak about language fixation with respect to the material of "Vesty-Kuranty. 1600-1639." But it is possible to set up hyperical principle (reflecting changes of spelling contrary to changes of phonemes) as applied to foreign lexics in general.

So, all spellings in any case are determined by action of these orthographical principles in the Russian language. Apparently it is true for foreign words too. Now I would like to study interrelation of foreign words and orthographical system of the Russian language in the XVII century when uncodified spelling standards existed in use only and to find out the specificity of orthographic assimilation of borrowings. It is especially attractive because of having been kept the "Kuranty" in rough and fair copies. Looking through and rewriting rough copies a scriber corrected them and this estimation element might be evidence of the aspiration to follow a certain language usage. Spelling usage could coincide with living language phenomena or not.

Now there are a few words about technique. The first step was material selection. In connection with using some statistical method elements in the work the material was limited to names of places because most of the appellatives sometimes had too individual ways of assimilation in the Russian language. Then guided by graphic and orthographical variants of the words I made some attemps to define a language-source and to restore a spelling form in it. It was restored 316 names of places in all. After the restoration I observed in the texts how the words reflected in the Russian language. Since orthographical variants were investigated, they could be different in different word-uses. So it was important not a number of words but a quantity of word-uses in the texts. There were 1790 ones in "Vesty-Kuranty. 1600-1639." Let me pass on directly to the display of spelling principles in their correlation with the Russian orthographical system.

It would be more comfortable to begin with the traditional principle. As was said the traditional principle in the XVII centure acted as applied to the choice among doublet letters and the given spellings showed the choice having been done in favour of one of variants. Thus, in the word "Боргъ" the scriber was given the choice to letter Oby o or  and he chose o. This spelling was determined by tradition or scriber preference exclusively and it did not reflect living language phenomena. You could see 4 traditional spellings of vowels in the word "Оверисел": o - , e - Ь, и - i, e - ь.

Total number of such traditional spellings (for 1790 word-uses) was: o -  - 385, И - i - 588, e - Ь - 1263, я - А - Ю - - 102, кс -  - 18, ф -  - 118.

But it was the first step of traditional spellings calculation in the texts. The second step was connected with so-called double choice when vowel was lettered. For example, choosing a letter for the vowel phoneme аa writer should choose both between o and  and between o and а. E. g.: the word 'Анзбах' (Ger. Ansbach) had 2 orthograms in lettering vowel phonemes: 1) the choice between and o (according to phonetic or morphological principle) and, as consequence of the letter o - appearance, 2) the choice between o and  (according to traditional one). But the second step might be realized after analysis of morphological, phonetical and hyperical spellings only. A weak position of phoneme is the starting-point in the choice of letter in favour of morphological or phonetic principle. But weak positions for vowel and consonant phonemes have different conditions. That is why I'll consider them one after another. It should be remarked that reproduction of vowel combinations and diphthongs, additional vowel appearance in consonant combinations (f. e.: 'Карлесбад, Карелсбад, Карисбад' from German 'Karlsbad') are not anylized in quantitative aspect. For vowels the weak position is an unstressed one. Therefore a stress determines presence or absence of the orthogram in a word. Unfortunately the "Kuranty" texts are not accented. Although it is clear the results of the analysis depend on stress position I however have made bold to stress given forms of the foreign words. There are some additional dificulties: borrowings being periphery of the language system are not under the pressure of language standards, various forms in the texts are few in number. I was guided by given variants of the words and by the idea that an accent in Russian could be on any syllable and in foreign words it often kept the place of the original language. Thus, there was the first syllable stressed in German mainly, the last syllable in French, the penultimate syllable in Italian. E. g.: ‚Висмар (Ger. Wismar), Колбергъ (Ger. Kolberg), Анор (Fr. Anor), (у) Вервен(а) (Fr. Vervins), Песар (It. Pesaro), Фазано (It. Fossano).

Phonemes and lettersCorrelation with principlesmorphologicalphonetichypericaltraditional<а> after hard consonants and at the absolute beginning heightof words. Letters О and А21289136<i> after soft consonants. Letters Е and И563675629<у> after hard consonants (the beginning of words after heightproposition). Letters И and Ы5026-26Table 1. Ratio of morphological, phonetic, hyperical and traditional orthographic principles in vowel phoneme lettering on foreign word material from "Vesty-Kuranty. 1600-1639".

We have no possibility to give the list of accented forms in the paper. Many words have two accents (one of them, additional, appears by virtue of phonetic reasons). The additional stress position is the strong one in the Russian language and it may be not considered.

Let me proceed to the orthographic analysis directly. A stressed variant of the word is compared with written and spoken forms in the language-source and then is classified as the demonstration of certain principles. Then phonemes а(in the position after hard consonants and at the absolute beginning of words) and i(in the position after soft consonants and at the be

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