Saturday, April 30, 2011

CJB: Sibilant Softening (s to z)


For [s], one hears [z] between vowels (especially if the second is stressed), or between a vowel and //m//, provided no # stands on either side of the sibilant.

s à z /V__{V/m}


[z] [s]

dismal     dis#mount

plasma      plastic

spasm      spastic

lous+y      louse

dis+ease     dis#own

re+sign      re#sign

re+serve     re#serve




BrE has [z] before [l] as in Wesley, Chrysler, Moslem, Islam, and Oslo; NA has [s] here (cf. Wesley Clark of Calif). But grisly has [z] everywhere.

There is a substantial group of words where speakers in all countries differ over [s] or [z] for internuclear "s": greasy, Jerusalem, blouse, philosophical (not philosophy), resources, and endings –ose and –ese are most frequent. The same difference is heard in absurd and absorb. Contrast further BrE erase#r with [z] and NA erase#r with [s].

Diagnose, dose, and usage have NA and BE [s], also BE [z].




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