According to the Russian phonology wiki (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_phonology) :

The pronunciation of unstressed /o ~ a/ is as follows: (...)
When a soft consonant or /j/ precedes, both /o/ and /a/ merge with /i/ and are pronounced as [ɪ].

Examples: язы́к ( [jɪˈzɨk] ) and "ýчасть" ( [ˈut͡ɕɪsʲtʲ] )

However, it seems that the phonem /a/ in я at the end of a word seems to not follow this rule and is pronounced [ə], such as in "тётя" ( [ˈtʲɵtʲə] ) or "деревня" ( [dʲɪˈrʲevnʲə ] ) . Am I missing a pronunciation rule or are these words which end in я exceptions?

  • 2
    Can you please provide exact quote? I'm having hard times to derive what you are claiming from that text but it's not even that - the question supposed to be self-sufficient to some extent (any link can got stale).
    – shabunc
    Nov 5, 2019 at 8:28
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    Those are not the rules. Those are consequences of lazy pronunciation. People pronounce consonants properly, but do not voice vowels. So you get this palatalized schwa sound, that may sound like [ɪ] because of following consonant "adding voice" to it.
    – user28434
    Nov 5, 2019 at 9:37
  • @shabunc I quoted the relevant text from the wiki. Nov 5, 2019 at 12:27
  • @AlanEvangelista thank you so much, I really appreciate it!
    – shabunc
    Nov 5, 2019 at 12:28
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    Alan, ah, I guess I misunderstand the thing then. So.. just a few lines below "the rules" you'll find the "There are a number of exceptions to the above vowel-reduction rules:" where the second item covers your examples. (To be honest personally I'd treat both rule and the mentioned exception to be too raw generalization/abstraction/idealization... In a (at least my own) every day speech I think I would barely able to distinguish between "деревня"/"деревни"/"деревне" - the endinging vowel is so extremely reduced so they all sound almost like диревнь.) Nov 6, 2019 at 5:28

2 Answers 2


Yes, you have missed one rule. To quote the same Wikipedia page,

Across certain word-final inflections, the reductions do not completely apply. For example, after soft or unpaired consonants, unstressed /a/, /e/ and /i/ of a final syllable may be distinguished from each other. For example, жи́тели [ˈʐɨtʲɪlʲɪ] ('residents') contrasts with both (о) жи́теле [(ʌ) ˈʐɨtʲɪlʲɪ̞] ('[about] a resident') and жи́теля [ˈʐɨtʲɪlʲə] ('of a resident').


This is not clear [ɪ] and may vary in different regions. North gravitate to [a] in "Участь", for example.

  • The Russian phonology wiki describes standard Russian, I am only interested in it for now. Nov 6, 2019 at 4:48
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    @AlanEvangelista, Hi! There is no firmly defined standard Russian present days. In the USSR TV newscaster was got as paragon, and it was called "Academic Russian language". Their pronunciation was based on the city dialects of North-West and North, roughly triangle St.-Petersburg -- Arkhangelsk -- Moscow. As a native who was born in big industrial city in this area four decades ago, I have my own pronunciation close enough to academic. And I have big concerns about some info that phonowiki is providing. Seek for soviet narrators, they were good.
    – ratschbumm
    Nov 6, 2019 at 6:41
  • @ratschbumm: Could I perhaps encourage you to help improve the Wikipedia article, either by making suggestions on the Talk page or, if you have it well enough worked out, by editing the article directly?
    – PJTraill
    Mar 4, 2020 at 19:04

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