The consonant contrast between /z/ and /s/ primarily lies in their voicing distinction.
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/z/ is a voiced consonant, meaning that it is produced with vocal cord vibration, resulting in a buzzing or humming sound. On the other hand, /s/ is voiceless, meaning that it is produced without vocal cord vibration, resulting in a sharp, hissing sound.
Both /z/ and /s/ are alveolar fricatives, which means they are produced by creating a narrow passage of air through the tongue and the alveolar ridge (the bumpy ridge behind the upper front teeth). However, the key difference lies in their voicing, as mentioned above.
3. Sound Examples
To get a better understanding of the contrast, consider the following examples:
– /z/: The “z” sound is commonly heard in words like “zebra,” “zipper,” and “zero.” When pronouncing these words, you’ll notice the vibration of your vocal cords.
– /s/: The “s” sound is found in words like “sun,” “sit,” and “sister.” Pronouncing these words, you’ll notice the absence of vocal cord vibration, resulting in a sharper sound.
4. Minimal Pair
A minimal pair is a pair of words that differ by only one sound, and they can help highlight the contrast between two phonemes. In the case of /z/ and /s/, we can find a minimal pair like “zoo” and “sue.” The only difference between these two words is the initial consonant sound, where “z” in “zoo” is voiced, while “s” in “sue” is voiceless.
It’s important to note that the way sounds are pronounced can vary based on factors such as accent, dialect, and individual speech patterns. The descriptions provided here are based on a general understanding of the sounds /z/ and /s/ in English.
Use a good dictionary to find the pronunciation of the words noted below.
Identify the position of /z/ sound in each of the words.
Amaze, crazy, husband, cousin, whose, vows, dessert, surprise, examine
Identify the position of /s/ sound in each of these words:
- Swiss (ii) disband (iii) fancy (iv) case (v) circle (vi) scheme (vii) psalm (viii) sent (ix) parcel (x) snuff