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the aggregate of norms in a national language that ensure the unity of the language’s phonetic shape. Like orthography, uniformity in the phonetic shape of the spoken language contributes to rapid and easy language communication. The concept of orthoepy includes pronunciation and the norms of suprasegmental phonetics (stress, tone and so forth). Pronunciation includes the phonetic system of a language—that is, the stock of phonemes and the quality and realization of these phonemes under given conditions—and the phonetic shape of individual words and grammatical forms. In Russian, for example, pl[a]tish’ (“you [familiar] pay”) and [sh]to (“what”) are correct, but pl[o]tish’ and [ch]to are not. The orthoepic significance of suprasegmental norms varies in different languages. In Russian, for example, stress that is linked to the creation of various grammatical forms is of great importance. According to some scholars, orthoepy includes the creation of variant grammatical forms, such as the Russian traktorá or tráktory (“tractors”).
Historically, the norms of orthoepy are established as a national language is being formed, when different forms of speech are developing among people and the relative importance of the spoken language in the life of a society is increasing. The strictness and uniformity of these orthoepic norms vary greatly from language to language and from period to period, as does the sociolinguistic significance. Orthoepic rules have their own long history and are usually late in becoming established as norms of the national language.
The basic outlines of Russian orthoepic norms, the norms of the Moscow dialect, were formed as early as the first half of the 17th century. Only as the national language developed and was consolidated, however, did the Moscow norms become the national norms. These latter acquired their final form in the second half of the 19th century, although certain vacillations persisted. The orthoepic norms that existed before the October Revolution of 1917 have been basically preserved. Some individual rules, however, have changed. Assimilation of soft consonants has become less regular, and, for example, [d]ve (“two [feminine]”) and [z]ver’ (“beast”) can be heard along with [d’]ve and [z’]ver’. Pronunciation has in certain instances become closer to spelling.
The theater, which cultivates orthoepic norms in their purest form, was of great importance in the development of orthoepy. Orthoepic norms in many languages are based on stage pronunciation. The importance of orthoepy has increased with the growth of sound motion pictures, radio, and television.
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R. I. AVANESOV