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Bumped into this news title today:

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I wonder if "51-летний" correct in Russian.

If not, which adjective would be the right one to convey the same meaning?

If yes, how do I pronounce it?

Neither "пятидесятиоднолетний", nor "пятидесятиодногодовалый" sounds right to me.

  • in fact usually it's pronounced питидиСЬТИадналетний - десяти is shrunk down to дисьти, the complete form isn't incorrect, but it's inconvenient and less frequent – Баян Купи-ка May 12 '19 at 7:41
  • @Баян, I wouldn't encourage such pronunciation; it's always better to pronounce with clarity, especially for a non-native speaker. Shortening will come naturally with practice. – Zeus May 13 '19 at 0:40
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    this is how it's pronounced normally, it's almost like discouraging from pronunciation of соЛнце as сонце, and it's so much more practical as the word десяти appears inside a long word with an already complex enough pronunciation to complicate it even further, discouragement from reduction of unstressed vowels in particular is counterproductive – Баян Купи-ка May 13 '19 at 9:07
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It's absolutely valid Russian and it'a pronounced "пятидесятиоднолетний". Those adjectives respond to the question "сколько летний" and more popular (though considered colloquial) form "скольки летний".

This class of adjectives can be used both with animate and inanimate nouns with the only exception - годовалый (оr одногодовалый) and it’s derivatives - двухгодовалый, трёхгодовалый etc. - is used for 1-year child or animal, while "однолетний" is used in other cases.

The "годовалый"-form is interchangeably used with -летний form for smaller numbers, so you can encounter both, say, "пятигодовалый" and "пятилетний" but you hardly ever see "тридцативухгодовалый".

The last thing I can add regarding this issue that I always missed the Polish noun-form, they, for instance, can say something like "zginął 34-latek", which is shorter. In Russian we have words like "трёхлетка" or "пятилетка" but they are basically used only for designating period of time.

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  • Formally they exist, and not even that uncommon: тридцатичетырёхлетие. Тридцатьчетвёрка. Curiously, these are proper noun (or adjective) words, and thus Russian can outperform German in the words length competition :) – Zeus May 13 '19 at 0:45
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51-летний is completely correct. Common pronunciation is like "питидисьтиадналетний". "Пятидесятиоднолетний" sounds more like Belarus people pronounce it. 'Я' in Russian in many cases would sound like 'и' or 'e' but in Belarus they pronounce it as it's written.

Another example is 'лягушка' (frog): in Russian it would be pronounced like 'лигушка' or 'легушка' whether it would be pronounced as it's written in Belarus or Ukraine.

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