Why "sh" pronunciation in "sugar"?

Donald M Lance lancedm at MISSOURI.EDU
Wed May 8 05:21:14 UTC 2002

on 5/8/02 12:09 AM, Donald M Lance at lancedm at MISSOURI.EDU wrote:

> on 5/7/02 5:21 PM, Douglas G. Wilson at douglas at NB.NET wrote:
>>> Today a student asked me why "sugar" and "sure" are pronounced with
>>> "sh" (vs. "super" with "s"). Would anyone know?
>> I shurely wouldn't. But here are my puerile observations anyway.
>> The palatalization /s(j)u/ > /S(j)u/ is quite common in unstressed
>> syllables: "issue", "tissue", "fissure", "censure", "pressure",
>> "Assurbanipal"/"Ashurbanipal" (?), etc.
>> Similar change in stressed syllables is more unconventional; it occurs in
>> the 'special cases' "sugar", "sure" ... and in derivatives: "sugary",
>> surely", but also "assurance" (but not "assume" or "assurgency").
>> Offhand I can think of one word -- "sumac" -- where the stressed syllable
>> can go either way ("soo-mack" or "shoo-mack").
>> -- Doug Wilson
> Since sure, and sugar begin with s-, the assimilation with the palatal
> on-glide of the (original) "long u" is (historically) complete, and the
> syllable-final consonant "shortens" the remaining -u- sound.  In words like
> 'visual' and 'tissue', if the syllable boundary I(low energy point) falls
> before the on-gline, the apical (tongue tip) fricative may not be
> palatalized (or may be only partially palatalized).  If the fricative is
> fully palatalized, there is much less likely to be a hint of the yod
> on-glide.
> DMLance
I intended to add that there is a LOT of intra- and inter-individual
variation, so as you, dear reader, (sub)vocalize what I'm attempting to say,
your production may not match my observations point for point.  This matter
is rather complex.

More information about the Ads-l mailing list