In Wiktionary I see [ə] (in full: [ˈɛxə]), but what I hear in various samples is not fully a fully reduced schwa but something more like the semi-reduced pronunciation [ɐ] of <а> and <о>, or even (in some speakers on Forvo, for example) a short [o]. What rules apply to this situation, and to what extent does it depend on dialect or context?

I gather from Sergey Slepov’s answer that it is indeed semi-reduced, but I am also interested in when people use [o] rather than [ɐ]. Does this suggest anything about the speaker, e.g. where they come from, their age or their education? Or does it convey extra semantic information, e.g. about emphasis or a question? And how was it pronounced on the heavily standardised TV in the USSR?

  • you got it right!
    – shabunc
    Mar 4, 2020 at 19:14
  • 3
    Speaking about TV & USSR, эхо is not the most frequent word to be used by a news reader but here is a nice song from 1977: Эхо любви where you can hear it numerous times.
    – tum_
    Mar 5, 2020 at 20:17

2 Answers 2


You are right. Unstressed word-final vowels are only reduced half-way.

Here is a quote from Russian Phonetics by Moscow State University authors:

The following unstressed syllables undergo a weak reduction:

  1. the first syllable before the stressed syllable
  2. the word-initial syllable that starts with a vowel
  3. the word-final open syllable

The "о" in "эхо" falls under case number 3.

The absence of reduction in "о" (as in Postscripter2's sample on Forvo) can mean that:

  1. The speaker is over-pronouncing. Reasons may include trying to get across the exact spelling of a word which is probably what Postscripter2 did, quite possibly inadvertently. Teachers often get into the habit of over-pronouncing when dictating or simply reading off a sheet of paper.
  2. The speaker is a native of the Northern Russian dialect which has okanie (оканье) (think Vologda). Such people are quite rare these days.
  3. The speaker's first language is not Russian or is influenced by another language with okanie e.g. Ukrainian. Most Slavic languages except for Russian have okanie, i.e. no reduction of "o".

See also my answer to this very similar question.

  • Thank-you, this covers part of my question clearly, but I was also trying to ask about the choice between [o] and [ɐ], so I have expanded my question to make that clearer. (Thanks also for translating the Russian, with which I was struggling!)
    – PJTraill
    Mar 5, 2020 at 14:18

Using heavily English-centric IPA to describe Russian pronunciation is a bad idea. In Russian phonetic analysis the word is analyzed as [эха].

  • Funnily enough, Russian Wiktionary renders it as [ˈɛxə], identical to English Wiktionary. You have also not explained why some speakers use [o] rather than [ɐ].
    – PJTraill
    Mar 5, 2020 at 14:21
  • 2
    @PJTraill I venture to assume that when the speaker looks at a written word 'эхо', he pronounces 'o' more clearly than if he spoke without seeing the letters
    – Elena
    Mar 5, 2020 at 16:58
  • @PJTraill It seems Wikitionary forces English style transcription on all languages
    – Anixx
    Mar 6, 2020 at 4:27

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