Fricative voicing in *houses*

David Bowie db.list at PMPKN.NET
Wed May 10 18:34:37 UTC 2006

From:    Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>

> Among speakers of American Black English, the plural of the noun, "house,"
> is "hou[z]es." Likewise, the verb, "(to) house," is "hou[z]e." I personally
> did not become aware of the validity of the pronunciation of the plural as
> "hou[s]es" till perhaps ten years ago. Before then, if ever I noticed that
> anyone pronounced "houses" as "hou[s]es," either it didn't register or I
> assumed that the speaker was working-class or lower, therefore not a speaker
> of standard American White English whose pronunciation I needed to be able
> to emulate in formal settings.

I (grew up in Maryland, south of DC, in the 70s) consistently say
hou[z]es and hou[z]e's, but hou[s]ewives; Jeanne (grew up in Maryland,
north of Baltimore, in the 70s), my wife, says hou[s]e's and
hou[s]ewives, but seems to be pretty much free variation between
hou[z]es and hou[s]es.

If i was still out in Utah, i'd do a study of Boi[s]e vs. Boi[z]e. In my
experience, Boiseans (at least the upper- and upper-middle-class ones i
had contact with) are pretty emphatic that the pronunciation is Boi[s]e,
and i would repeatedly and firmly have my Boi[z]e-pronouncing self
corrected on it. However, my observation is that Boiseans themselves
show variation on this (and, in fact, a small study an undergrad from
Boise did for one of my classes seems to support this).


David Bowie                               
     Jeanne's Two Laws of Chocolate: If there is no chocolate in the
     house, there is too little; some must be purchased. If there is
     chocolate in the house, there is too much; it must be consumed.

The American Dialect Society -

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