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  1. #1
    ancor90 is offline Newbie
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    Does full devoicing occur?

    Hello.

    I wonder if, in normal speech, full devoicing of usually voiced consonants can occur? For example, I often hear native speakers correctly say /ɪz/ (is), but sometimes, especially if the word is not emphasized, it sounds to my ears like /ɪs/. This seems to happen especially at word endings.

    I've noticed similar devoicing with other consonants, and it seems sometimes one is only left with other clues like vowel lengthening or context.

    Is this bad hearing on my part or can full devoicing indeed occur in English depending on how much attention the native speaker pays to the correct pronunciation?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Does full devoicing occur?

    Quote Originally Posted by ancor90 View Post
    Hello.

    I wonder if, in normal speech, full devoicing of usually voiced consonants can occur? For example, I often hear native speakers correctly say /ɪz/ (is), but sometimes, especially if the word is not emphasized, it sounds to my ears like /ɪs/. This seems to happen especially at word endings.

    Thanks!
    It's not clear what you mean. Are you talking about the word 'is'? If not, then some words do end in /ɪs/, eg. 'this'.
    Can you give some examples?

  3. #3
    ancor90 is offline Newbie
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    Re: Does full devoicing occur?

    Yes, I'm taking about the word "is". Or "eyes", "games", "season", etc., where the bold s should be pronounced /z/. Sometimes I hear that very clearly, sometimes I don't.

    So I wonder if that's bad hearing on my part, or if an usually voiced consonant can indeed by fully devoiced.

  4. #4
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Re: Does full devoicing occur?

    Quote Originally Posted by ancor90 View Post
    Yes, I'm taking about the word "is". Or "eyes", "games", "season", etc., where the bold s should be pronounced /z/. Sometimes I hear that very clearly, sometimes I don't.

    So I wonder if that's bad hearing on my part, or if an usually voiced consonant can indeed by fully devoiced.
    None of these words should be devoiced.
    The only time this should happen, is when the /z/ if followed by /s/ for example in "His sister", but even then most people manage /hɪz sɪstə/
    You might hear it happening when the following phoneme is another unvoiced sound, ("his toy") but it's not what we are "supposed" to say.

  5. #5
    5jj's Avatar
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    Re: Does full devoicing occur?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    None of these words should be devoiced.
    The only time this should happen, is when the /z/ if followed by /s/ for example in "His sister", but even then most people manage /hɪz sɪstə/
    Even here, I doubt if the /z/ is fully devoiced. The preceding vowel will ensure that at least the onset of the /z/ is voiced.

  6. #6
    mykwyner is offline Key Member
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    Re: Does full devoicing occur?

    If an "s" sound is produced immediately after an unvoiced (the vocal chords are not used to produce it) consonant, it is usually pronounced [s]. Example: cat + s = cats.

    If an "s" sound is produced immediately after a voiced consonant or vowel, it is usually pronounced [z]. Example: dog + s = dogz.

  7. #7
    ancor90 is offline Newbie
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    Re: Does full devoicing occur?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    None of these words should be devoiced.
    Sorry to be pedantic, but does "should" here mean, that native speakers would never ever fully devoice?

    The only time this should happen, is when the /z/ if followed by /s/ for example in "His sister", but even then most people manage /hɪz sɪstə/
    Here I'm again confused by your use of "should". Does this mean, you ought to devoice the s in his, if followed by an unvoiced consonant?

    You might hear it happening when the following phoneme is another unvoiced sound, ("his toy") but it's not what we are "supposed" to say.
    So native speakers do fully devoice if the next sound is unvoiced, even though it's not correct?

    I apologize for asking for clarification, but my interpretation of the three quotes of your post seem to contradict each other.

    Is it allowed to upload some audio files here? I'd love to collect some examples where I hear no voicing although there should be. Then you could tell me if you do hear voicing or not.

  8. #8
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    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Re: Does full devoicing occur?

    Quote Originally Posted by ancor90 View Post
    Sorry to be pedantic, but does "should" here mean, that native speakers would never ever fully devoice?
    ....
    I doubt it. In one case I can think of, the de-voicing can be fossilized and used - by mistake - when the phonetic context doesn't justify it. When 'have' is used in the sense of necessity rather than possession, it is usually (always...?) followed by 'to', causing devoicing of the /v/. Geoffrey Sampson, in Liberty and Language (or maybe Making Sense, it's over 30 years since I worked on them), reports hearing a politician saying 'It's a matter of simply /'hæfɪŋ/ to'. (This is not correct or usual, and is certainly not to be copied; but it shows how strong the tendency to devoice can be.)

    b

  9. #9
    5jj's Avatar
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    Re: Does full devoicing occur?

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    Geoffrey Sampson, in Liberty and Language (or maybe Making Sense, it's over 30 years since I worked on them), reports hearing a politician saying 'It's a matter of simply /'hæfɪŋ/ to'. (This is not correct or usual, and is certainly not to be copied; but it shows how strong the tendency to devoice can be.)
    Some fifty years ago, I was corrected at school for using /f/ in 'have to'; this was supposedly the sign of an uneducated speaker. I shudder when I think of some of the artificial 'rules' I was taught in those days.

    I think that the total devoicing of /v/ in 'have to is a result of our (probably) subconscious feeling that the two words have and to are very closely associated as one idea (similar to must). In an utterance such as 'I've told you a thousand times', even though the /t/ follows immediately after the /v/, I don't think that it is fully devoiced.

    The close association of the two parts of 'have to' have led to the written forms of the word(s) hafter/hafta in dialogue that is spoken by supposedly less educated speakers.

    Although it's not connected with devoicing, we see a similar result of this close association of to with a preceding verb in such forms as wanna (want to), gotta (got to) and oughta (ought to)

  10. #10
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Re: Does full devoicing occur?

    Quote Originally Posted by ancor90 View Post
    Sorry to be pedantic, but does "should" here mean, that native speakers would never ever fully devoice?


    Here I'm again confused by your use of "should". Does this mean, you ought to devoice the s in his, if followed by an unvoiced consonant?

    There are no rules saying that you ought to devoice the /z/ in 'his'. I was saying that it does happen sometimes.

    So native speakers do fully devoice if the next sound is unvoiced, even though it's not correct?

    No, I'm saying that it sometimes occurs.

    I apologize for asking for clarification, but my interpretation of the three quotes of your post seem to contradict each other.

    Is it allowed to upload some audio files here? I'd love to collect some examples where I hear no voicing although there should be. Then you could tell me if you do hear voicing or not.
    Sorry about the ambiguous 'shoulds'.
    If you listen to enough English you will know when phonemes are devoiced, etc. Yes, it's a good idea to upload videos or audio of sounds. It's easier to identify and talk about sounds after you've heard them.
    I think you'd have to post them on an external site and give us the URL.

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