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Article

Lexical stress variation and rhythmic alternation in Russian: A pilot study

Kukhto A., Piperski A.

Our paper investigates the variation of lexical stress placement in Modern Standard Russian past tense verbal forms. This kind of variation has arisen due to complex interactions of various processes in the development of Russian. Its present-day state is said (often rather impressionistically) to be conditioned by intra-speaker sociolinguistic factors, but it must be noted that cases of inter-speaker variation can also be observed. We put forward a proposal that stress placement in forms with variable stress is influenced by the rhythmic pattern of immediate linear context. To support this, we report on a pilot experiment that shows the preference towards alternating rhythm in a sequence consisting of a past tense verbal form of a transitive verb and its direct object, thus conforming to the fundamental principle of rhythmic alternation. The results also raise some questions about the phonology of stress and stress variation in Russian and beyond.