intervocalic voicing of fricatives

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Tue Jun 25 17:49:25 UTC 2002

In a message dated 6/25/02 8:43:45 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
charles at FREUDE.COM writes:

> My observation is that in the USA the [second] 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.

I have a suggestion specific to "Jose/".  In English there are very few
common words that have /os/ (that's supposed to be a long "o" as in "home").
The only ones that come to mind are "gross", "close" (adjective only, the
verb is /kloz/), and "dosido".  "Explosive" (and the phonetician's variant
"plosive") can have either /s/ or /z/.  On the other hand, for /oz/ there is
"bows", "blows", "cozy", "closing", "crows", and so on alphabetically.  Do
you find it surpri/z/ing that "Jose" gets a /z/?

If I heard someone say "Jose" as /ho 'sei/ I would think that person is
either a native Spanish speaker or is making an effort to pronounce Spanish
correctly, and habitually refers to the character in Carmen as /don ho 'sei/
rather than as /dahn ho 'zei/.

Note the mondegreen "Jose can you see" for the opening line of the "Star
Spangled Banner" which falls flat if pronounced /ho sei/, even though the
correct version is /o sei/.

If you want to do a survey, also ask people how they pronounce the Biblical
name "Hosea".  I once had a classmate (now an MD in Boston) named Steve
Hosea, and he pronounced his name /ho 'zei/.  (Steve, easily the best punster
in the class, came in one day with a bandage near one eye, and was
immediately addressed with "Hosea can you see?").

      - Jim Landau

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