On the Question of the Pronunciation of Consonants Before the Letter e in Words of Foreign Origin

2023. № 4, 7-24

Irina A. Veshchikova, Lomonosov Moscow State University (Russia, Moscow), irinavmgu@gmail.com


The continuous process of borrowing, proceeding with varying intensity and activating innovations from a particular language in certain epochs, requires constant attention to the orthoepy of this category of words by both non-specialists and phonetic scientists, including lexicographers. For this topic, the question of the pronunciation of the consonant before the letter e has always been and remains one of the most relevant, because, unlike native Russian words, where it indicates the softness of the preceding consonant, foreign-language borrowings in this regard are not the same: for some words, a soft consonant (term) will be correct, for others — a hard one (fake), for the third — the literary norm permits the use of both soft and hard consonants (aggression). How not to make a mistake in choosing the “right” consonant? The answer to this question is not at all simple, because: 1) the pronunciation of consonants before e (with the exception of the position of the end of unchangeable words) cannot be described using rules; 2) the general process of phonetic development of words like progress is contradictory and therefore does not exclude the updating of recommended norms; 3) a large number of lexicographic sources does not guarantee that the word of interest to the speaker will be fixed by them and provided with orthoepic instructions; 4) there is no consensus on the norm for a number of even common and at the same time longstanding borrowings; 5) when evaluating the option as correct, not only average native speakers, but also teachers do not always understand the nature of the differences between the two phenomena — the literary norm and the norm for working in the media. To learn the pronunciation of foreign words, the efforts of native speakers themselves are necessary (without studying scientifi c recommendations and observing the pronunciation of the word professionals can not do), and orthoepists (a resource similar to an academic Spelling project is needed).

For citation:

Veshchikova I. A. On the Question of the Pronunciation of Consonants
Before the Letter e in Words of Foreign Origin. Russian Speech = Russkaya Rech’. 2023. No. 4. Pp. 7–24. DOI: 10.31857/S013161170026389-6.