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https://www.duolingo.com/Akvamariin

The voiced S-sound in English

Akvamariin
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I want to improve my English pronounciation and I noticed that many natives sometimes voice the S letter. I need to know when you use it and if it is exclusive to certain accents/ dialects. How does it work?

2 years ago

12 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/ZenSurvivor

S is often voiced (sounds like z) when it follows a voiced sound (e.g. natives, as, is, etc.) It's not exclusive to any dialects, it is the correct pronunciation.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/idshanks
idshanks
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An exception I've noticed a lot recently is that many people say the pronoun ‘us’ with an unvoiced ‘s’. I'm actually noticing it so much that I suspect perhaps my dialect is in the minority in actually voicing it, but nevertheless a good example of when ‘s’ is often unvoiced despite the immediately-preceding voicing.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mizinamo
mizinamo
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That's true.

"as, is, his" have a voiced sound, "us, this" have an unvoiced sound.

Also, "has" has a voiced sound but in the phrase "has to" meaning "must", it has an unvoiced sound. Similarly with "used" meaning "made use of" = yoozd but "used to" meaning "had the habit of" = yooced, and "have" = havv but "have to" meaning "must" = haff to.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/idshanks
idshanks
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Interesting, I've never noticed that people do those ones in other dialects. In (my part of) Scotland, in addition to ‘us’ having the voiced ‘s’, neither ‘has to’ nor ‘have to’ take the unvoiced sounds in their respective contexts. I'm glad you pointed those ones out - I'll have to keep an ear out for them!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Klgregonis
Klgregonis
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It's a dialect thing, I suppose, but I do say haz to, but used to, with an s, and haff to. Pointing out a few of these things to language learners can improve both their receptive and productive language by leaps and bounds - quite quickly, because they now know what they're hearing.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Akvamariin
Akvamariin
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Thank you for the reply!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/londoncallling

What ZenSurvivor said is correct. Also, we use 'ss' after a voiced sound to indicate that the s is unvoiced e.g. bossy vs rosy (pronounced rozy) or ass vs as (pronounced az).

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Klgregonis
Klgregonis
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Every language has sounds that change depending on the surrounding sounds, the s/z changes are one of them in English. Others are t or d in the middle of a word - latter and ladder sound pretty much the same even to native speakers when spoken quickly - the sound becomes a flap instead of a t or d, the use of the schwa neutral vowel in most unstressed syllables, and the pronunciation of regular past tense ed. Walked = /walt/.(unvoiced) moved = /muvd/ (voiced) wanted = /wantuhd./ - (t or d) based on the preceding sound.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mizinamo
mizinamo
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The tt/dd thing is not universal, though; I think of this as a US thing (though I'm not sure whether it's universal even there). I don't think UK speakers merge those sounds.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/idshanks
idshanks
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Yeah - we don't in Scotland anyway. We don't have any sort of flap sound for the intervocalic ‘t’ and ‘d’. Hell, that sound is really close to the most common realisation of the Scottish ‘r’, so it'd probably end up causing confusion.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Klgregonis
Klgregonis
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It's a single flap, not a rolled flap. I actually had a Spanish speaking student point this out to me, he had been listening to English commercials and realized that the sound in auto was very close (if not identical) to the sound in pero, which is a lightly voiced single flap. The sound in perro is a rolled flap - and for the life of me I can't make it consistently - I have to really think about it, which slows me way down on those words with an rr.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/idshanks
idshanks
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Yeah, it's the single-tap I'm referring to. The single-tap is the most common realisation of the Scottish ‘r’. The trill is very uncommon compared to the tap, though does come out from time to time (sometimes emphatically, sometimes for no reason I can really identify :P). Though unlike in Spanish there is no actual contrast between these in terms of meaning - no pero/perro scenarios.

2 years ago