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  1. #1
    peppy_man is offline Member
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    Default "ts" at the beginning of the word

    I've heard that it's difficult for native English speakers to distinguish "ts" from "s" when the sound appears at the beginning of the word.
    The reason for this is, I heard, that the English language has "ts" at the end of the word(eg. 'cats' and 'hits'), but it doesn't occur at the beginning.

    Is this true?
    Is it difficult for English natives to distinguish 'Zeit(time in German)' from 'sight' when they learn German?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: "ts" at the beginning of the word

    Quote Originally Posted by peppy_man
    I've heard that it's difficult for native English speakers to distinguish "ts" from "s" when the sound appears at the beginning of the word.
    The reason for this is, I heard, that the English language has "ts" at the end of the word(eg. 'cats' and 'hits'), but it doesn't occur at the beginning.
    Is this true?
    Is it difficult for English natives to distinguish 'Zeit(time in German)' from 'sight' when they learn German?
    Hello Peppy_man,

    The only English words I can think of which begin with "ts" are "tsar", "tsarina", "tsarist" and "tsetse". Tsetse is a fly found in Africa - it is a disease carrier. English people pronounce "tsar" as "zar" and "tsetse" as "tetse".

    You are correct in saying that "ts" at the beginning of an English word is rare.

    I don't think English speakers would have any problems in distinguishing "Zeit" from "sight". The "Z" would be correctly pronounced.


    Regards,
    Fieldmouse

  3. #3
    sheena55ro Guest

    Default Re: "ts" at the beginning of the word

    Quote Originally Posted by peppy_man
    I've heard that it's difficult for native English speakers to distinguish "ts" from "s" when the sound appears at the beginning of the word.
    The reason for this is, I heard, that the English language has "ts" at the end of the word(eg. 'cats' and 'hits'), but it doesn't occur at the beginning.
    Is this true?
    Is it difficult for English natives to distinguish 'Zeit(time in German)' from 'sight' when they learn German?

    Don`t forget that English language is a Germanic language and the pronunciation of some sounds like "ts" is not a problem for English native speakers, as far as I know.
    Furthermore, I have had the opportunity to work with and talk to native English teachers specialised -more or less- in Applied Linguistics, Phonetics and Phonology , but they never had such problems, never complained about, or, at leat I have never noticed that. And ,believe me, I have some experience and if I had noticed such a problem I would have asked them about it.

    See also the pronunciation of the word "tsunami" which is not an English word but ,still, it can be correctly pronounced by English natives.

    However, this kind of problems might occur -maybe- in some dialects [ e.g. Cockney, etc.] .I don`t know too many things about that.
    I would like to hear some experts` advice.

    Regards,
    Last edited by sheena55ro; 22-Jul-2006 at 21:19.

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: "ts" at the beginning of the word

    I don't think the intitial 'ts' causes much trouble, though it isn't common in English and usually occurs in loan words. I'll check next week when I'm in London about the Cockney pronunciation of 'tsunami'.

  5. #5
    peppy_man is offline Member
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    Default Re: "ts" at the beginning of the word

    Thanks for your comments.
    The reason why I have been wondering about this question is that I learned in the course of phonology that native speakers hear their language's sounds phonologically rather than phonetically; how native speakers hear a sound is determined by its phonological environment, for example whether it appears at the beginning or end of the word.
    It is well known that Japanese and Koreans have difficulty distinguishing "she" from "see", because, in their native languages, 's' and 'sh' do not contrast before 'i'.
    I suspected the similar is true for 'ts' at the beginning of English words where 'ts' and 's' do not contrast, but, according to your comments, it does not seem to be the case.
    Anyway, I'm very please to have a fruitful discussion here.
    Last edited by peppy_man; 26-Jul-2006 at 20:40.

  6. #6
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: "ts" at the beginning of the word

    There are some that cause trouble; I'm learning Khmer and have real trouble with saying 'ng' at the beginning of a word.

  7. #7
    Avalon is offline Member
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    Default Re: "ts" at the beginning of the word

    There“re a few sounds in the Portuguese language that English people have difficulty in pronouncing “cos it“s very nasal. Like PĆO (bread) they usually make it sound like PAU (wood stick)

    but I bet they find it funny when we say 16 years sounding like 16 ears!

  8. #8
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: "ts" at the beginning of the word

    I used to live in Portugal and, at first, I found I couldn't really hear the difference- it took a while to be able to hear it clearly and then I cound I could pronounce them differently, though I make no claims about getting the sound perfectly.

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