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October 30, 2011


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Marc Leavitt

Susan: I knew the proper pronunciation of the patronymic middle name, but not that the accent would be on the anti-penultimate syllable for a last name. What about a name like Davidov? Wouldn't the accent be on the ultimate? And in a two-syllable name ending in the -ov form, on the first syllable? Russian isn't one of my languages.

Virtual Linguist

Thanks, Marc. Davidov has the stress on the I. The two-syllable name Petrov is stressed on the OV, but Chekhov, also two syllables, is stressed on the first syllable. Russian stress is unpredictable and that is why it is always marked for learners and young Russian children.


Isn't the patronymic used in a more significant way than our usage of a middle name? Seems as if the given name plus the patronymic are used in a very familar context. Is that true?

Virtual Linguist

Quite right, John. The polite way to address a Russian is by name and patronymic - Ivan Petrovich, or Svetlana Ivanovna. It's a polite form of address, rather than familiar, though. It's how children would address their teacher, for instance.

Jemmy Hope

We British also stress the wrong syllable of his forename. We say ROman, when it should be rahMAHN.
The -ovich suffix (in surnames)is more Bielorussian or Polish than Russian. As a Jewish name Abramovich would have originated in the Pale of Jewish Settlement, which included Poland and modern Belarus. In Polish the stress always falls on the penultimate syllable.


We consistently accentuate the RO in the same manner as in Britain, Jemmy. As a very heavy viewer of British football, I don't think I've heard any BBC or Sky presenters pronounce it differently. We may be collectively wrong, but we are consistent.

Jemmy Hope

Natural, I suppose, when we pronounce the word Roman, meaning "of Rome", that way. One size fits all, as they say.

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