Bosnian: Phonetic Question: đ and dž


New Member
Can someone explain to me, in simpler terms, what is the difference in the pronunciation of the đ /dʑ/ and dž /dʒ/ sounds?
  • This is a question that applies to the entire BCMS (standard variants, at least).
    /dʒ/ is found in English (jeans, jewel, job, etc.) so you should have no special issues with it. The tip of the tongue is positioned close to the front part of the hard palate, and the lips are slightly rounded.
    /dʑ/ is, as we call it, "soft". In more precise terms: the front part of the tongue (but not the tip) is positioned near the hard palate, thus the passage for the air current is not as narrow as in dž and so the sound feels "softer"; the tip of the tongue is positioned behind the lower teeth, so it's not active in creating the narrow passage. The lips are not rounded.

    The same difference applies to č-ć sounds, which are in fact just voiceless counterparts to dž-đ. So, any description of the former two (which are much more frequent sounds than the latter) applies to the latter as well (with added voicing, of course).
    A simple traditional explanation is also this one: č is a merged pronunciation of t+š (dž = d+ž), and ć is merged t+j (đ = d+j). But just pronouncing t+j (d+j), even if merged together into one sound, will not actually sound like proper ć (đ) yet, so it's not a sufficient explanation.

    However, this is important to note: what I provide above is a description of the STANDARD pronunciation, and many dialects (in my native Croatian especially) do not make any distinction between dž and đ (as well as č and ć). Thus, both dž and đ can be pronounced as English /dʒ/, and č and ć can be pronounced more or less as English /t͡ʃ/. So, if you're a learner, chances are you don't have to bother with the difference. Pretty much no words could be mixed up because of the merger, and many natives would not even notice your non-standard pronunciation.