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

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Thu Jan 24 19:41:56 UTC 2008

Jeanette's from Poland? I didn't know that. Not that it matters, of course.


On 1/22/08, Dennis R. Preston <preston at msu.edu> wrote:
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> Poster:       "Dennis R. Preston" <preston at MSU.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: English words beginning with <j> pronounced [Z]?
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> LH,
> Don't you mean the Polish-born linguist Jeanette Gundel?
> dInIs
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> >Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> >Subject:      Re: English words beginning with <j> pronounced [Z]?
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> >
> >At 10:12 AM -0500 1/22/08, David Bowie wrote:
> >>From:    Nadia Gabriel <nadpaz3 at GMAIL.COM>
> >>
> >><snip>
> >>
> >>>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
> >>>French?
> >>
> >>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.)
> >
> >LH
> >
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> --
> Dennis R. Preston
> University Distinguished Professor
> Department of English
> 15C Morrill Hall
> Michigan State University
> East Lansing, MI 48824
> 517-353-4736
> preston at msu.edu
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