The pronunciation of the abbreviated "is"

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vinci61

Senior Member
Chinese
Hello, it's me again.
As a none-native speaker, I was informed of 3 pronunciation rules ,these are, if you add"s" at the end of a noun, it should be pronounced as /z/ when the last sound is a voiced consonaunt or a vowel sound. If the last sound is a voiceless consonaunt, it should be pronounced as "s" And also the sound will be /iz/ if the word ends with /S//Z/ TH DG.
However, the abbreviated "is" sound always makes me confused.
For example, the sentence in the Oxford dictionary--She is a friend of my father's. er is a vowel, why my dictionary's NAmE tells me it should be my father/s/ not my father/z/ which is quite the opposite of the first rule
Another example, Their new car's a BMW. In this sentence, it is pronounced as my car/z/, I understand, because of the last vowel sound. But why my father's is pronounced as my father/s/ not my father/z/?

Thank you for your help.
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    No, the rule is right - all the s-endings follow the same rule and have the same three forms, whatever their grammar is. Fathers and father's are always pronounced with /z/. (What exactly do you mean by your dictionary's NAmE? Which dictionary?)
     

    vinci61

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Thank you so much then the pronuciation I got from the Oxford dictionary is wrong! Do you know how much it cost me?:( I bought it at the itunes store just today. It costed me about 200 RMB(Chinese yuan). Maybe Oxford Press should be more careful in the details. But it is still a really good dictionary, though. Good night.
     

    vinci61

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    I do not think the dictionary could be wrong about this. Maybe you misunderstood something.
    Honey, it is the sound attachment. I clicked it to listen to the whole sentence. Then I questioned myself cause I am not a native speaker, and I thought that maybe there are some special cases.
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    Fathers and father's are always pronounced with /z/.
    Hmm... There are dialects/accents in which "fathers" and "father's" would be pronounced with /s/, I believe (a New Jersey accent, for instance - I think). I'm not at all certain about this, though, and I don't think any dictionary would take them as examples of standard AE.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    If those were the two complete sentences that were spoken -

    She is a friend of my father's.
    Their new car's a BMW.

    - with nothing after father's, then you might have been hearing another effect. English 'voiced' stops and fricatives - such as /b d g z v/ - are not always fully voiced. They're most likely to be voiced between two vowels or voiced consonants such as /n l r/, as in car's a. At the end of a sentence, the voice may turn off early, so [z] might become [s] half way through. You might be hearing this in father's. The actors who speak voice samples can't carefully monitor every single sound in every single sample, so if this wasn't recorded to show the pronunciation of 's, they might have let [z] trail off into [s].

    But the thing is, it is a /z/ at the end, even if it is partly voiceless. A pure /s/ would not be used here. (There is also a small difference in vowel length: a vowel is a bit shorter before a voiceless sound like /s/.)
     

    vinci61

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    :eek: You must have misheard, sweetheart. :) (Hope you're a girl... :D )
    Yes, I am a girl. But I couldn't have misheard, cause the dictionary in my phone is just by my side. And I heard it about 3-4 times, in case I misheard.
    The dictionary is Oxford Advanced learner's Dictionary 8th edition, the most expensive ones in the itunes store.
    I downloaded the NAmE sound cause at that time, I didn't have much time to download BrE sound.
    And the wrong pronunciated sentence is among the examples of the first letter A. I can't possibly be wrong.
     

    vinci61

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    :eek: You must have misheard, sweetheart. :) (Hope you're a girl... :D )
    Nope , it still is a /s/ sound not a /z/sound. But as long as I know my rule is right, then that's fine. If there are more special cases in the pronuciation, that would be totally too much for me to take. Too late. Good night, then
     

    vinci61

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    If those were the two complete sentences that were spoken -

    She is a friend of my father's.
    Their new car's a BMW.

    - with nothing after father's, then you might have been hearing another effect. English 'voiced' stops and fricatives - such as /b d g z v/ - are not always fully voiced. They're most likely to be voiced between two vowels or voiced consonants such as /n l r/, as in car's a. At the end of a sentence, the voice may turn off early, so [z] might become [s] half way through. You might be hearing this in father's. The actors who speak voice samples can't carefully monitor every single sound in every single sample, so if this wasn't recorded to show the pronunciation of 's, they might have let [z] trail off into [s].

    But the thing is, it is a /z/ at the end, even if it is partly voiceless. A pure /s/ would not be used here. (There is also a small difference in vowel length: a vowel is a bit shorter before a voiceless sound like /s/.)
    Thank you for your great answer. Much appreciated.
     

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    Hmm... There are dialects/accents in which "fathers" and "father's" would be pronounced with /s/, I believe (a New Jersey accent, for instance - I think). I'm not at all certain about this, though, and I don't think any dictionary would take them as examples of standard AE.
    I tend to agree with Lucas here. Depending on the voice program from iTunes---whether computer-generated or from an actual person---you will hear the "s" sound in some dialects in the New England region (in the USA).

    I agree that it's not standard American English (NAmE)---can that include Canada/Mexico too? I don't know much about iTunes and their language programs.
     
    Last edited:

    Giorgio Spizzi

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Hullo.

    Entangledbank's reference to the possible early de-voicing of final voiceless phones is fundamental.
    Also, Vinci, we should never underestimate the very special condition of the average foreigner when it comes to recognizing another language's sounds — we have a word for it in Italian: "sordastro", "half-deaf".

    GS :)
     
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