Archaic Forms in the Ritual Style
At least two major styles are distinguished in Saskatchewan
Russian: ritual and conversational (Schaarschmidt, 2012). The
term “ritual” used by Schaarschmidt is not very fortunate, as
Doukhobors reject church and rituals. However, by tradition
and for lack of a better term, it is used in current paper as well.
Ritual style is used during ritual gatherings for the reading of
prayers and singing of hymns. According to previous research,
the ritual language is full of archaic Church Slavonic lexemes
(Schaarschmidt, 2011). However, while examining the songs
and prayers in use by the Doukhobor communities of Sas-
katchewan, we found only a relatively small number of archaic
forms. It may be possible that due to the large extent of Douk-
hobor Russian language loss in Saskatchewan, only relatively
simple texts are selected from prayers and hymns.
Among the examples of archaic lexis, we observed the forms,
such as “испасениe” (salvation/ref standard “спасение”),
“сполнившись” (overflown/ref standard “наполнившись”).
We have registered the semantic broadening of the word
“тулуп” (a loose shaped fur-coat) which in the speech of Sas-
katchewan Doukobors can also mean “upper garment” or “coat”.
The analysis of ritual texts displays a range of specific mor-
pho-syntactic features of Doukhobor Russian. The analysis
confirms that the destruction of the Neuter gender category in
the nominal system, which was observed in the speech of the
Doukhobors in British Columbia (Schaarschmidt, 2011), is also
present in Saskatchewan Doukhobor Russian. Nouns, adjec-
tives and pronouns which have neuter gender in standard Rus-
sian acquire forms similar to feminine gender. Examples of this
process from Saskatchewan Doukobor hymns include “да
святится имя твоя” (hallowed be Thy name/ref standard “имя
твое”), “наша зна мя” (our banner, ref standard “наше знамя”),
“нашу солнцу” (our sun, Accusative case/ref standard “наше
солнце”). We also found some new and exciting evidence that
points to the fact that some word forms of neuter nouns in cases
other than Nominative and Accusative do not “convert” into
feminine declension, but keep the forms typical of the neuter
declension class, e.g., the form “солнца луч” (a ray of sun).
Thus, although in the Nominative and Accusative cases the
nouns with neuter gender acquire the forms overlapping with
feminine gender, in other cases they may preserve the declen-
sion forms of the neuter nouns, i.e., the paradigm of the neuter
gender has shifted towards a merge with feminine gender, but
this merge has not been completed. It seems like there may be a
separate declension class of Doukhobor nouns which we call
here “X-neuter” (i.e., formerly neuter nouns shifting into a dif-
ferent class and having overlapping forms). We illustrate this
with a comparison of Doukhobor and standard Russian partial
paradigms in example 1 below. Unfortunately, we so far found
only a few instances of the use of X-neuter nouns in cases other
than Nominative and Accusative, so this hypothesis needs more
D X-N Stand N Stand F Stand M (inanm)
N солнца солнце рама стол
G солнца солнца рамы стола
A солнцу солнце раму стол
Conversational Russian Doukhobor variety has morphosyn-
tactic forms found in substandard/dialectal Russian, e.g., “они
хочут, вы хочете” (they want, 3rd pers pl, you want, 2nd pers
Phonological Features and Pronunciation
In both ritual and conversational Doukhobor Russian style,
the use of allophone [ɣ] (voiced dorsal-velar approximant) has
been reported earlier (Schaarschmidt, 2011). While this sound
is typically associated with Ukrainian and Southern Russian
dialects, it has also been found as a free alternant with [g] in
standard Moscow Russian in the word “бога” (Аванесов,
1956). In the speech of Doukhobors from British Columbia, [ɣ]
and [g] were reported to freely alternate in all the words con-
taining the letter “г” intervocalically and in the word beginnings
followed by a vowel (Schaarschmidt, 2011). In the speech of
Saskatchewan Doukhobors, we did find some examples of al-
ternations, such as [dərʌˈɣija], [pəɣiˈbajuʃjix] for “дорогие”
(precious, pl), “погибающих” (perishing)” along with [dərʌˈgoj],
[pəgiˈbajuʃjix] (precious, sg). However, [ɣ] has the predominant
usage in these positions, e.g., “Бога” (God, Gen case), “восторгам”
(excitements, Instr case) [ˈboɣa], [vʌsˈtorɣam]. This sound is
considered by Saskatchewan Doukhobors to be a “trademark”
which differentiates them from the speakers of standard Rus-
sian. We also observed that in the word end position, the letter
«г» is pronounced not as [k] as in standard Russian, but as /x/,
e.g., [plux] for “плуг” (a plough).
Our analysis of the pronunciation of ritual Doukhobor texts
also revealed a number of differences in the pronunciation of
the letter “e”.
1) word-final letter “e” in inflexional suffixes tends to be
pronounced like [ja]:
a) Adjectival (and pronomial) inflexional suffixes contain-
ing the final letter “e” are pronounced not as [je], as in stan-
dard Russian, but as [ja], e.g., “дорогие” (precious),
“никакие” (none) [dərʌ'ɣija, nikʌ'kija]
b) Imperative plural аnd 2nd person plural, indicative pre-
sent forms of verbs ending with the inflexional suffix “-те”
are pronounced not as [tjɪ], as in standard Russian, but as
[tja], e.g., “давайте” (lets), “слышите” (hear, 2nd Pers pl),
are pronounced as [dʌ'vajtja, 'slɨʃɨtja] Similar forms are
found in some Ukrainian and Belorussian dialects.
2) In other word classes, word-final “e” is pronounced not as
a reduced raised and fronted [e] or [ɪ], but as [i], e.g., “вместе”
(together), “свете” (world) ['vmjesjtji, 'svjetji].
3) The pronouns “своей”, “ему”, “всей” , “моей” are pro-
nounced not as standard [svʌ'jej, jɪ'mu, fjsjej], but as [svʌ'joj,
jʌ'mu, fsjoj, mʌ'joj].
4) The letter “e” after a vowel is pronounced not as [je], but
as [i] “обещает” (promise, 3rd pers sg) [əbɪ'ʃjaɪt]. This feature
is found in northern Russian dialects.
5) In some cases, word-final “e” letter is pronounced as [a],
e.g., “тоже” ['toʒa].
The words with the “devisive” soft sign are pronounced
without [j], e.g., страданья, упованья [strʌˈdanja, upʌˈvanja] as
opposed to standard [strʌ'danjja, upʌ'vanj ja]. This feature is
found in Ukrainian and Belorussian dialects.
Inflexional suffix of adjectives “ый, ий” are pronounced аs
[aj], e.g., “яркий” (bright), “старинный” (ancient) ['jarkaj,
Word-final palatalization is weaker than in standard, e.g.,
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