Russian Vowel Reduction and Dispersion Theory


Recent work on phonological vowel reduction explains some of its properties by appeal to proposed functional bases (Flemming 1995 (2002), to appear, Crosswhite 2001, to appear, Barnes 2002). This paper explores the feasibility of a Dispersion Theory (DT) account for Russian vowel reduction. No detailed analysis of a case of vowel reduction exists in DT. Also new here is an attempt to base such an analysis on a careful phonetic study, in this case a study of Russian vowel reduction due to Tabain and Padgett (2003). The account succeeds in explaining many aspects of Russian vowel reduction. However, though the phonetic data answers important questions, it also raises difficult new ones.

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