intervocalic voicing of fricatives

Charles Wells charles at FREUDE.COM
Tue Jun 25 12:42:58 UTC 2002

My observation is that in the USA the s in "San Jose" is essentially always
voiced, and the s in "El Paso" and names containing "mesa" is never voiced.
 This is probably not related to the placement of the stress, as your
examples indicate.

--Charles Wells

>I have been struck - on NBC's "Today", CNN, NPR and other American
>sources - with the increasing frequency of voiced intervocalic or
>inter-voiced-segment fricatives, especially in proper names:
>        Jerusalem       [-z-]
>        Kashmir         [-zh-] (can't do voiced palatalo-alveolars in email)
>although the unvoiced parallels are also heard.
>Has there been any work describing this shift (as distinct from other
>intervocalic voicings like flapping and words like "exit" as [-gz-],
>which looks well established as favoured in US English: MW has it
>first; OED only has [-ks-]). Is it lexically most found in foreign
>proper names?
>Roly Sussex
>Roly Sussex
>Professor of Applied Language Studies
>Department of French, German, Russian, Spanish and Applied Linguistics
>School of Languages and Comparative Cultural Studies
>The University of Queensland
>Queensland 4072
>Office: Forgan-Smith Tower 403
>Phone:  +61 7 3365 6896
>Fax:    +61 7 3365 2798
>Email:  r.sussex at
>School's website:
>Language Talkback ABC radio:

Charles Wells
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