Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton
pne

Russian /n/ vs /n;/ vs /n;j/ distinction

Russian has a three-way distinction between /n/, /n;/ (palatalised), and /n;j/ (palatalised /n/ followed by /j/), which is exemplified in the triplet канак [kV"nak] - коняг [kV"n;ak] - коньяк [kV"n;jak]. (The words are, respectively, "South Pacific Islander, specifically a Hawaiian or New Caledonian"; "of draughthorses or old horses" (gen.pl. of коняга); and "cognac, brandy".)

This insight was from a message on the CONLANG list in a thread dealing with /nj/ vs /J/, in which Isaac Penzev explained that Russian has no phonemic /J/ but rather /n;/.

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