shih-tzu [pronunciation]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by ScienceDay, Aug 13, 2006.

  1. ScienceDay Junior Member

    English
    How do you pronounce this word? I've heard it pronounced "shit zoo". I pronounce it "shizzoo" which avoids the syllable "shit" at the beginning.
     
  2. maxiogee Senior Member

    imithe
    I've heard sheet-zoo, but I believe that shit-zoo is more accurate.
     
  3. Whitedogg Junior Member

    Bulgaria, Sofia
    Bulgarian Bulgaria
    I've heard this word in the movie "Dumb and dumber". It was pronoused Shitsoo. The "shit" was not avoided.
     
  4. Moogey Senior Member

    New Jersey, USA
    USA English
    I've only heard it said "shit zoo"

    I avoid saying it when in the company of family, especially when I was younger, just in case should something happen to me before I get to say "zoo" :D

    -M
     
  5. James Brandon

    James Brandon Senior Member

    Greater London (UK)
    English + French - UK
    As it happens, I was checking the pronunciation very recently and came to the conclusion the /shi:/ should be a long /i/ sound (hence /i:/ in phonetics). The American pronunciation tends to turn the /t/ into a /d/. You can get the American English pronunciation if you look up the word on Encarta (Microsoft).

    The dog was originally Tibetan, not Chinese, I believe, and I think another pronunciation, probably closer to Tibetan, would be:

    /'shidz@/

    I am using /@/ to represent the schwah, i.e. the neutral /e/ sound in English, as in 'letter' (/'let@(r)/), for instance.
     
  6. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    I haven't heard the "voiced t" or \d\ phoneme, though of course it's undeniable that Americans voice the \t\ in intervocalic position.

    "Shit zoo" is an "S-impure" situation, and can't be pronounced as an unvoiced \t\ and voiced \z\ without either aspirating the \t\ (which Americans are loath to do) or inserting some kind of stop, in this case with the tongue against the hard palate rather than the more common glottal stop.

    So we tend to unvoice the z and pronounce \s\ instead-- shit soo. I tend to break the syllables between the \i\ and the \ts\, though, so that the second syllable is the same as the German word zu. When I'm not deliberately being funny, that is, and jumping at a chance to say shit in polite society. Lapdog owners need a little jolt now and then, right?
    .
     
  7. James Brandon

    James Brandon Senior Member

    Greater London (UK)
    English + French - UK
    You are right in that it is not a straight /t/ anyway in that word, but a /tz/ that will tend to /d/ anyway... I would still say that the American pronunciation (as I heard it on Encarta) was very close to /d/ and we know that it will tend to /d/, whereas I feel a British pronunciation would try to steer closer to /t/. There are countless examples of Americans pronouncing /t/ as /d/.

    How many times have I heard for, "I will write to her", "I will write her", with the "to" dropped, and the "write" becoming something like "ride", since the 't' becomes a 'd' - an entirely different proposition, as it were... :D
     
  8. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Yes, but as I said in my post, these are \t\ sounds in intervocalic position-- including your example.

    I have lived in one place where the \ts\ combination struck my ear as somewhat voiced, but that was Naples, where so many consonants are voiced that are unvoiced in standard Italian.

    But again, you're right-- we do put budder on our bread on this side of the pond.
    .
     
  9. James Brandon

    James Brandon Senior Member

    Greater London (UK)
    English + French - UK
    I take your point regarding the position, hence pronunciation, of 't'. Fair enough! And 'shih-tzu' does not fit in, in this respect; also, it requires phonetic adjustment, being a foreign word (I mean, non-English).
     
  10. Detente430 New Member

    English
    I found a website that you can listen to the pronunciation for Shih Tzu. Here's what it shows:
    Shih Tzu (shē' dzū')
     
  11. James Brandon

    James Brandon Senior Member

    Greater London (UK)
    English + French - UK
    It would help if the phonetic symbols used were explained, I feel. Is it a long /i/ sound, i.e. /i:/, and a long /u/ sounds, i.e. /u:/, in which case it would be something like: "sheet-zoo", presumably tending to "sheed-zoo" (cf comments on the /t/ and /d/ issue made earlier in the thread)?

    According to earlier contributions, the /i/ sound would be a short one, not a long one (see earlier contributions in this Thread). According to what I had found, the dog in question comes from Tibet and the name, if pronounced in a way closest to the local pronunciation, would be pronounced: /'shit-zə/ with the schwah as final sound (as in the initial sound in "according"). The stress is on the 1st syllable.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2010
  12. doglover11 New Member

    My grandparents always chose Shih Tzus, and after reading many books on them I was told the British pronunciation is Sheed Zoo. I guess that is only one opinion though.
     
  13. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Howjsay.com has two audio versions here

    In the first, the i is longish as in the word she, while in the second the vowel is closer to a "stressed schwa" (sounding like a version from its original language?). I won't try to transcribe into IPA since I'm not very proficient and anyway audio does not need it!
     
  14. -mack-

    -mack- Senior Member

    Los Angeles
    American English
    I would have to agree, the typical American pronunciation is shit-zoo — in a way, I think it is almost better to make it appear as if you do not care what it may sound like, the burden of not giggling is on the listener, not you.


    That said, I have an idiosyncrasy of sometimes mincing "Oh, shit!" as "Oh, shih-tzu!!" ;)
     
  15. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Well, howjsay's audio agrees with this information from dogbreedinfo.com
    Merriam-Webster's also has the shee sound in their audio file, while the American Kennel Club, an authority on many things canine, adds "The actual pronunciation of this name is approximately like the "sher" of "sherbet" followed immediately by the "dds" of "adds""
     

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