U.S. English Pronunciation
Lesson 6: the sounds /ʃ/ and /ʒ/
The /ʃ/ sound in English is most often represented by the letters 'sh'. The /ʒ/ sound occurs less frequently in speech. It is pronounced almost the same as /ʃ/ except it is voiced.
Remember, consonants in any language are the result of the brief stoppage or restriction of airflow in speech at different 'points of articulation'. While one is speaking, the vocal chords are either vibrated (voiced), or not (voiceless). (check out the links to the right to review previous lessons)
These are produced with a restriction, but not a complete stoppage, of airflow
The sounds /ʃ/ and /ʒ/ are two fricatives that we have not covered yet. Some other voiceless fricatives are covered in Lesson 4, while Lesson 5 reviews the other voiced fricatives. These two are explained separately, because they because they involve an entirely new 'point of articulation' that we have not yet discussed: 'post-alveolar'.
Linguists call the /ʃ/ sound a 'voiceless post-alveolar fricative'. The 'post-alveolar' point of articulation is just behind the 'alveolar', the point for /s/ and /z/. Try pronouncing the /s/ sound for an extended period and then move your tongue slightly backward away from your alveolar ridge. You will notice that the sound drops slightly in pitch and has a more sonorous or noisy quality to it.
The /ʒ/ sound is a 'voiced post-alveolar fricative'. This time, try pronouncing the /z/ sound for an extended period and then move your tongue slightly backward away from your alveolar ridge. You will notice that the sound drops slightly in pitch and has a more sonorous or noisy quality to it.
The /ʒ/ sound occurs less frequently and, for the most part, is not critical to conveying the meaning of a word (as the difference between, for example, /t/ vs. /d/ might be in the words 'time' and 'dime'). Nevertheless it is a variation pronounced by most U.S. English speakers in the middle of some words, like:
(keep in mind these words would be pronounced differently in UK English and some other varieties)
Try practicing some of these English pronunciation examples, check back for more examples and later lessons:
The goal of this course is to help you learn English pronunciation in simple, easy-to-understand terms, while at the same time giving you enough familiarity with technical linguistic concepts to move on to other, more advanced topics. Try reviewing the previous lessons (see links to the right).
Lesson 7: the /h/ sound -->
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Friday, October 24, 2008
U.S. English Pronunciation