English words beginning with <j> pronounced [Z]?

Dennis R. Preston preston at MSU.EDU
Tue Jan 22 15:51:26 UTC 2008


Don't you mean the Polish-born linguist Jeanette Gundel?


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>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
>Subject:      Re: English words beginning with <j> pronounced [Z]?
>At 10:12 AM -0500 1/22/08, David Bowie wrote:
>>From:    Nadia Gabriel <nadpaz3 at GMAIL.COM>
>>>Do you know of words, common word or proper names, in the English language
>>>that begin with the letter <j> but that are pronounced without the [d]
>>>sound, just the [Z] sound?
>>>Or, to put it another way, words where the initial <j> is pronounced as in
>>My wife's first name is Jeanne [dZi.ni]. A small but noticeable number
>>of people we know pronounce her name [Zi.ni] at least part of the time.
>>No idea if it's a hyperforeignization (hyper*re*foreignization, maybe,
>>given that her name is ultimately but distantly French), but those I've
>>been able to do under-the-radar lexical elicitation with don't use the
>>[Z] in words like jail.
>This probably also comes up with names like "Janine"/"Jeannine" or
>"Jeanette".  I know a couple of women with the former name who are
>usually addressed with initial [Z] but they're French- or Swiss-born
>themselves; the key test would be those with the name but not the
>background.  The U.S.-born linguist Jeanette Gundel is always [J],
>not [Z], and ditto the singer Jeanette MacDonald.
>>Well, i did run across one who talked about drinking juice [Zus], so
>>maybe there's a high-vowel thing going on? Pretty flimsy evidence to try
>>to make a generalization on, but it's all i've got.
>Ah, that brings up another related candidate.  I've never heard
>anyone who drinks [Zus], but one--in fact two--of the extant
>pronunciations of "au jus", [o Zu(s)], contain an initial (well, sort
>of initial) <j> pronounced as [Z].  This is confirmed by the AHD,
>which however gloss the term as an adverb meaning 'served with the
>natural juices or gravy', as in "roast beef au jus".  This would
>still render (heh heh) "au jus" a French term, but it's been
>reanalyzed in cafeteria English as a noun meaning something like
>'thin gravy on the side':  Roast beef with au jus.  (Cf. "apple pie
>with alamode".)  In this case, it's an instance of our holy grail--an
>English word with a (sort of) initial <j> pronounced (sometimes) as
>[Z].  (No doubt "with au jus" also gets pronounced as [o Jus]
>although I would imagine [o Ju] might be avoided for reasons of
>homonymy, if not taboo, avoidance.)
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

Dennis R. Preston
University Distinguished Professor
Department of English
15C Morrill Hall
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824
preston at msu.edu

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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