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I'm confused with the pronunciation of "воины" ("warriors"). To my knowledge, "воины" should be pronounced as [ˈvo̞ɪnɨ].

However, I've heard native speakers pronounce it as [ˈvo̞jnɨ̞] (with the "й" sound), which sounds like the word "войны" (means "wars"). That might be the reason why people confuse these two words, even being native speakers.

You can hear an example in the "В Багдаде всё спокойно" song by "Кар-мэн" (popular Russian nineties music):

В Багдаде всё спокойно, в Багдаде всё спокойно
И спят седые воины на золотых коврах

Writing "войны" instead of "воины" is illiterate, but what with the pronunciation? Is it acceptable to pronounce "й" in this word?

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    Pronouncing as "войны" makes this word sound exactly like plural for "wars". Usually languages avoid such mixes. (And yes, this is not acceptable). Other "hard" words - военоначальник (should be военачальник), знаменоносец (correct form - знаменосец). – Artemix Aug 1 '16 at 14:51
  • Военоначальник would mean that he commands warriors (воины), not the war process. Знаменоносец would mean he handles several banners (знамёна) instead of one (знамя). The second word is especially hard, because native speakers tend to do mistakes in plural forms of nouns ending with "мя". – polkovnikov.ph Aug 1 '16 at 16:19
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    Anecdotally, lots of Russian speaking kids these days perceive the Russian name of George Lucas's saga as Звёздные воины ("Star Warriors"), not Звёздные войны ("Star Wars") – Quassnoi Aug 1 '16 at 16:52
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    @polkovnikov.ph: военачальник derives from вои, not воинъ, same as воевода. Знаменоносец was the original Church Slavonic form which had been later reduced to знаменосец through the process known as haplology (elimination of same consecutive syllables), to which we owe existence of words like близорукий, курносый and перец instead of *близозоркий, *корноносый and *пеперец. – Quassnoi Aug 1 '16 at 17:12
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    Participants of this thread wrote 48 pages arguing whether воины and войны are homonymous, before the thread was closed down by a moderator lingvoforum.net/index.php/topic,40538.0.html So don't expect simple answers... – Georgy Ivanov Aug 1 '16 at 19:54
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However, I've heard native speakers pronounce it as [ˈvo̞jnɨ̞]

Live speech isn't 100% bookish right thing. Yet I believe you're wrong for the most part: there's also a "shorter version" of [ɪ] which is still different from [j].

You can hear an example in the "В Багдаде всё спокойно" song by "Кар-мэн"

Oh, well, pop music is a bad language teacher. Actually, I always wondered how they had misspelt this word so miserably. I never heard anyone else saying this way.

Is it acceptable to pronounce "й" in this word?

No.

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"Кар-мэн" sings "воины" with short [ɪ]. Aurally for me it slightly different from [j] and I think that pronouncing of [j] in this word will be not acceptable because [jn] sounds much stronger than [ɪ]. It seems that pronouncing of short [je] is much more appropriate in this word (as if it be written as "воены").

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    Yes, "и" is reduced to "е" there. I would expect someone to misspell it as "воены" rather than to mispronounce it as "войны". – polkovnikov.ph Aug 1 '16 at 16:14
  • @polkovnikov.ph misspelling it as "воены" was very wide in padonak and upyachka subcultures. I think that trend to "й" was influenced by misspelling of words ending with "-оид" (like андроид - андройд). – artptr Aug 1 '16 at 17:07

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