Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Valerie Shafer


Suzanne van der Feest

Subject Categories

Russian Linguistics


bilingualism, production, phonology, vowels, Russian


This study is the first to investigate the production of the Russian vowel contrast /i/-/ɨ/ by Russian-English bilingual children living in New York City. This contrast is interesting because the vowel /ɨ/ is not unanimously recognized as an independent phoneme, based on e.g. its limited occurrence and distribution (Kodzasov & Krivnova, 2010; Matusevich, 1976). Additionally, Russian-speaking children acquire /ɨ/ relatively late in production. Therefore, this contrast’s acquisition may be particularly challenging for bilingual children with more limited exposure and variability in their input and is an interesting test case and contribution to the debate regarding the contrast’s phonological status. In this study, I collected production samples from 11 Russian-English bilingual children from New York City (mean age 10 years) as well as two 10-year-old Russian monolingual children from Russia. Participants completed a picture-naming and sentence-repetition task via Zoom while parents recorded their speech via iPhones. Productions of /i/ and /ɨ/ (~120 tokens per participant) were acoustically analyzed focusing on formant frequencies at 5 points in time. Results showed that overall bilingual children’s formant values were similar to monolinguals, although bilinguals tended to produce high mid vowel /ɨ/ with higher F2 values than monolinguals. Moreover, differences were observed within the bilingual group: participants with more Russian input showed patterns of production more similar to monolinguals than children with less Russian input.