Here are some disconnected jottings about Russian pronunciation errors in English, as exemplified by our tourist guides in St Petersburg. (Both were university graduates in ‘English philology’, spoke British-style English fluently and clearly, and used English every day in their professional work.)
• Occasional slipups in the contrast between iː and ɪ. Generally speaking, though, this opposition had been mastered.
• No distinction between the DRESS and TRAP vowels. (See blog, 2 June. Bear in mind that all NSs of ‘core English’ make this contrast, though the phonetic realization of the two vowels varies considerably.)
• No distinction between the LOT and THOUGHT vowels, both realized as something like ɔː, or as an opening diphthong ʊɔ. Hearing body pronounced as ˈbɔːdi by a non-Scot was somewhat disconcerting.
• The GOAT vowel was pronounced by one of our guides (female, perhaps in her late 50s) as ɛu. This was particularly grating when followed by l, as in ɛuɫd old. (It would have been OK if embedded in a strong Scouse accent, but it wasn’t, and led to some incomprehension.)
• Excessive prevocalic vowel reduction, à la russe, e.g. kəmpaˈzɪʃn̩ composition instead of ˌkɒmpəˈzɪʃn̩.
• Voicing assimilation, also à la russe, e.g. ˈbɫɛɡ ˈbɔːks black box.
• Failure to use compound stress in open compounds, e.g. parking lot with the main stress on lot.
• Both of these errors together made ɑdˈdiːlə quite difficult to recognize as art dealer.
• Failure to deaccent function words, e.g. There is not enough space for all of us instead of There’s not enough space for all of us.
I should also add that their command of English grammar and vocabulary was excellent. But odd bits of Russian phraseology slipped through here and there — for example, in our country repeatedly rather than in Russia, and today in the afternoon instead of this afternoon.