pronunciation: ‘ch’ in 'exchange' / 'c' in excuse

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Senior Member
Hi, everyone!
The phonetic symble of 'exchange' is /ɪksˈtʃeɪndʒ/, but I wonder 'ch' here sounds like '/tʃ/' or /dʒ/.
  • Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    There is a tendency in some speakers to voice the 'x' in 'excuse' (i.e. they pronounce as 'egz'). If they do that, the following 'c' may well also become voiced, and sound like a 'g'.

    This is a fault, and you should not copy it.


    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hello seekenglish

    Unlike others who've replied, I think that there is a case for seeing the <ch> in exchange as approximating to /dʒ/.

    The key point about the <ch> here is that it's not aspirated - unlike, say, the syllable-initial <ch> in change. The lack of aspiration tends to neutralise the distinction between unvoiced /tʃ/ and voiced /dʒ/.

    I don't know any Chinese, I'm afraid. But judging from previous threads it seems likely that the presence or absence of aspiration would be crucial in determining whether a Chinese-speaker would perceive <ch> as /tʃ/ or /dʒ/.

    The same goes for the unaspirated <c> in excuse and its perception as /k/ or /g/.

    Here's one of the previous threads I'm thinking of:
    "scare" sounds like "sgare"; "school" sounds like "sgool"


    Senior Member
    English stop and affricate consonants are distinguished as to whether they are voiced or unvoiced. Similar Chinese consonants are distinguished as to whether they are aspirated or unaspirated. This difference causes confusion for speakers of one of these languages trying to learn the other.

    Compare the sounds of the following phrases:
    Pike's peak [second p unvoiced, as always, and aspirated due to being word initial]
    pike speak [second p unvoiced, as always, and unaspirated due to s beginning the syllable]
    pike's beak [b voiced, as always]

    The ch in exchange is always unvoiced and usually unaspirated. To us English speakers it remains a ch, whether aspirated or not, because it is unvoiced. When unaspirated it has a softer sound but not a j sound, which would be voiced.

    But to a Chinese speaker it may sound a lot like the zh in Zheng (鄭), which is always unaspirated and may be unvoiced or voiced.
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