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

Dennis R. Preston preston at MSU.EDU
Tue Jan 22 16:37:38 UTC 2008


Please don't. At the LSA socio symposium I introduced her as Jeanette
gun-DELL, only to have Gillian Sankoff begin their joint presentation
with a correction of my pronunciation (and I knew better).

Jeanette's correcting my pronunciation goes way back. When I was a
visiting professor at Hawai'i in 1980 I gave a talk in which I very
badly stressed anaphora (anaPHORa) - and I didn't know better.
Jeanette was there, let me now about it, and has never let me forget


>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>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 10:51 AM -0500 1/22/08, Dennis R. Preston wrote:
>>Don't you mean the Polish-born linguist Jeanette Gundel?
>Oops, my bad.  I never knew.  So we should be pronouncing her name
>with an initial y-?
>>>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>>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
>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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