English: "Clothes" - stability of /ðz/, reduction to /z/

  • Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    There's a [ð] in "clothes"? :)
    Of course there is, otherwise you'd be talking about cloths ;)
    It's often dropped, I will admit, but in a slow pronunciation, yes.

    Dictionary.com: kloʊz, kloʊðz/
    Cambridge: /kləʊðz/ (US) /kloʊðz/
    OED: /kləʊðz/

    How do you say it?
     

    tFighterPilot

    Senior Member
    Israel - Hebrew
    Of course there is, otherwise you'd be talking about cloths ;)
    It's often dropped, I will admit, but in a slow pronunciation, yes.

    Dictionary.com: kloʊz, kloʊðz/
    Cambridge: /kləʊðz/ (US) /kloʊðz/
    OED: /kləʊðz/

    How do you say it?
    Can people really pronounce /ðz/?
     

    clevermizo

    Senior Member
    English (USA), Spanish
    Of course there is, otherwise you'd be talking about cloths ;)
    It's often dropped, I will admit, but in a slow pronunciation, yes.

    Dictionary.com: kloʊz, kloʊðz/
    Cambridge: /kləʊðz/ (US) /kloʊðz/
    OED: /kləʊðz/

    How do you say it?

    I find that [kloʊz] is often an automatic alternate in rapid speech. I say either [kloʊz] or [kloʊðz] in what I perceive to be free variation.

    Can people really pronounce /ðz/?

    Yep ! :D
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Can people really pronounce /ðz/?
    It is one of the more tricky consonant groupings but yes, in connected/assimilated speech it jumps away quite quickly (almost as much as [nasal]+[d]!).
    But yeah, we can.

    I find that [kloʊz] is often an automatic alternate in rapid speech. I say either [kloʊz] or [kloʊðz] in what I perceive to be free variation.
    :thumbsup: That's pretty much the case, yeah (also for me).

    But if you said you were from the "Linguistic Association of Speaking Correctly", threw a TV camera and a microphone in someone's face and said "Say this word!", then the underlying form in a slow correct manner would almost all of the time come out containing [ð]. Rapid speech alters what we think we say to a vaster degree than most non-linguists can ever imagine.

    Having said all that I probably drop it much more than I ever put it in, when speaking (but in RP it's the norm).
    Maybe a safer bet would be to go with a more stable word like "weather" for an IPA chart.
     
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    Dan2

    Senior Member
    US
    English (US)
    There are other threads about the pronunciation of "clothes" and I meant only to suggest that this word was not the best choice for the OP's project.

    There's the sense both here and in the previous threads that [ðz] is difficult to pronounce so therefore of course it will be simplified. But there's a real difference (at least in the US) between "bathes", "soothes", etc., where [ð] is retained, and "clothes", where it tends to be dropped. There really is something special about "clothes".
    But if you said you were from the "Linguistic Association of Speaking Correctly", threw a TV camera and a microphone in someone's face and said "Say this word!", then the underlying form in a slow correct manner would almost all of the time come out containing [ð]. Rapid speech alters what we think we say to a vaster degree than most non-linguists can ever imagine.
    For what I've quoted in blue, I both agree with you in general and think this is a very important point (except that I would replace "most non-linguists" with "those who've never played with a speech editor"). However w/r/t the red, for many or most Americans (and some Brits, based on the previous threads), even in slow careful speech "clothes" as [kloz] is the norm, and [kloðz] is a hypercorrection. Dialects differ, and you have to acknowledge that your fast-speech form may be my "underlying" form. It's certainly that case that I'd have to be speaking pretty fast and carelessly to get some of the forms that are standard, slow-speech, dictionary-worthy RP.
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I see your point clearly, but I never meant to apply what I said about all native English speakers, my domain is basically (mostly northern) England.
    When I talk like that, it's difficult to remember to always point out I'm talking about my variety, where I'm from, where I have experience and have noticed things, and I have forgotten in the past, and come across people challenging my view as it's not applicable to.... Australia, or Singaporean English. But yeah, I never meant to talk about American speakers. It's definitely the case that stages of development can show an underlying form in some people's speech, which is absent in others, and I think you might be right about it being absent totally in some American speech, it's definitely plausible.

    I did write a few things before settling on non-linguists, it wasn't how I wanted to say it but I couldn't think of another good way to put it! :D People who have an interest in pronunciation / have played with a speech-editor is a lot better!
     

    clevermizo

    Senior Member
    English (USA), Spanish
    There's the sense both here and in the previous threads that [ðz] is difficult to pronounce so therefore of course it will be simplified. But there's a real difference (at least in the US) between "bathes", "soothes", etc., where [ð] is retained, and "clothes", where it tends to be dropped. There really is something special about "clothes".

    Wouldn't this just be because "clothes" is much more common than "bathes"? I never say "bathe". I almost always say "take a bath". "Bathe" has a ring of formality to it, thus the retention of careful articulation perhaps.
     

    CapnPrep

    Senior Member
    AmE
    There's the sense both here and in the previous threads that [ðz] is difficult to pronounce so therefore of course it will be simplified. But there's a real difference (at least in the US) between "bathes", "soothes", etc., where [ð] is retained, and "clothes", where it tends to be dropped. There really is something special about "clothes".
    Agreed. More precisely, I think there is something special about the noun clothes, because as far as I can tell, the verb clothes patterns with bathes, soothes, etc.

    Wouldn't this just be because "clothes" is much more common than "bathes"?
    Possibly, but I think it's also because clothes is an uncountable plurale tantum that is no longer felt to correspond to any singular noun: [kloθ]? [kloð]? [klo]?

    As Dan2 pointed out, there are already several existing threads (mostly in English Only) where the pronunciation of clothes is discussed:
    Close / clothes

    Pronunciation: clothes

    Pronunciation: th-, -th, -thes
    How to pronounce "Months" and "Clothes" [movements of mouth and tongue]

    clothes (pronunciation) (FEV)

    I think we can all agree that this is not the best example for abigailmartin.
     
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    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Agreed. More precisely, I think there is something special about the noun clothes, because as far as I can tell, the verb clothes patterns with bathes, soothes, etc.
    The reason may simply be that a plural -s of a noun behaves differently than a 3rd. sg. -s of a verb.
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    The reason may simply be that a plural -s of a noun behaves differently than a 3rd. sg. -s of a verb.
    That's what I was thinking, also that the fact it's not a clear singular/plural relationship, that might affect the salience of a morpheme boundary, and morpheme boundaries can be quite fundamental in certain English phonotactic rules (i.e. -ng coalescence etc). So even if you can generalise that -s (noun) and -s (verb) behave in a similar way (I don't know if that's true, just saying if), then 'clothes' could still also be a special case because of the lack of a singular form, it's hard to say it's bimorphemic (from a natural subconscious point of view).
     

    CapnPrep

    Senior Member
    AmE
    The reason may simply be that a plural -s of a noun behaves differently than a 3rd. sg. -s of a verb.
    I don't know… These two suffixes are usually said to have the same morpho-phonological properties (other than the category of the base and their morphological function, of course). The point is that the noun clothes behaves differently from the verb clothes and from other plural nouns in ‹th(e)s›, e.g. moths, lathes, paths, myths, etc. (all of which can be pronounced with a [ð] that is more stable than the one in clothes).
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    from other plural nouns in ‹th(e)s›, e.g. moths, lathes, paths, myths, etc. (all of which can be pronounced with a [ð] that is more stable than the one in clothes).
    I'm with you on lathes, and I have heard someone mention long ago in WR that paths can be an alternative (which is still something that I struggle to believe, until I hear it in real conversation I suspect it'll remain like that), but with myths/moths...really? If someone said those words to be (contextless) and asked me to write down what they were saying, I'd probably write "mith(s)" for the first one, and "mothes" for the second one, but the idea of that thing that flies round jumping into lights wouldn't even cross my mind I don't think.

    Well, now, after reading this I guess it would, but before that.
    I find it weird I usually have such a wide acceptance of alternative pronunciations and a clue about their history, and this [ð] thing is just so alien to me that it gets in the way and blocks my usual ability to think about how it might be rendered in other accents.

    It's something I'm going to have to work on!
    But I honestly do think seriously I've never heard paths/myths/moths with anything other than a voiceless dental fricative.

    I do know some Brits say it in "baths", which I think I have heard before, but still sounds very (very) strange to me.
     
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    CapnPrep

    Senior Member
    AmE
    Well, OK, I could have picked some less controversial examples (tithes, scythes, …) but there aren't that many singular nouns ending in [ð]. And the θ → ð change that some speakers have in plurals like baths and truths is probably a remnant of the same process that applied historically in clothes.
     
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