IPA phoneme /ʒ/
In English, both in Received Pronunciation and in General American, the IPA phonetic symbol /ʒ/ corresponds to the consonant sound spelled "s" in words like "pleasure", and "usually". There aren't actually many words which have this sound on its own. The related phoneme /dʒ/, as in "job", is far more common.
This sound doesn't have its own letter, and the digraph "zh" was invented to represent it in some foreign transliterations. For example Solzhenitsyn is pronounced in English as /soʊlʒəˈniːtsɪn/. Even in English "zh" has been used, in the slang term "the /ju:ʒ/" (the usual) spelled "the yoozh" or "the uzhe".
/ʒ/ is a fricative; its affricate counterpart is IPA phoneme /dʒ/.
Some common words which practice the pronunciation of /ʒ/ include the following:
- equation - usually
- ending in "sion": conclusion - confusion - decision - division - occasion - provision - television - vision
- ending in "sual": usual - visual
- ending in "sure": exposure - measure - pleasure
Less common words
Some less common words which practise the pronunciation of /ʒ/ include the following:
- beginning with /ʒ/ - genre /ʒɒnrə/, gendarme (a French policeman) /ʒɒndɑ:m/, Georges /ʒɔ:ʒ/
- amnesia - luxurious /lʌɡˈʒʊərɪəs/ - seizure
- ending in "ge": beige - collage - massage - mirage - rouge - sabotage
- ending in "sual": casual
- ending in "sion": collision - exclusion - explosion - fusion - illusion - inclusion - invasion - lesion - persuasion - precision - revision (note: ʃ for "ssion": concussion - impression - mission)
- ending in "sure": disclosure - enclosure - leisure /ˈleʒər,BrE ˈliːʒər/AmE - treasure (note: ʃ for "ssure": pressure - fissure)
- anaesthesia,BrE anesthesiaAmE /ˌænəsˈθiːziə,BrE ˌænəsˈθiːʒəAmE/
- coercion /kəʊˈɜːrʃən,BrE kəʊˈɜːrʒənAmE/
- garage /ˈɡærɑːʒ,BrE ˈɡærɑːdʒ,BrE ˈɡærɪdʒ,BrE ɡəˈrɑːʒ,AmE ɡəˈrɑːdʒAmE/
- lingerie /ˈlænʒəri,BrE ˌlɑːndʒəˈreɪ,AmE ˌlɑːnʒəˈreɪAmE/
- massage /ˈmæsɑːʒ,BrE məˈsɑːʒAmE/
Anticipated pronunciation difficulties depending on L1
Preconceived ideas and other interferences from L1 obviously interfere in many cases with how students perceive - and pronounce - sounds/words in English. The following sections aims to point out some of the most typical difficulties teachers and students may encounter regarding pronunciation.
In Mandarin Chinese "r" actually stands for [ɻ ~ ʐ], two speech sounds similar to [ɹ ~ ʒ]. For many speakers of Chinese, it may be difficult to distinguish the differences between /ʒ/ and /r/. They have particular difficulty with the common word "usually", being pronounced rather like "urually".
Many teachers don't teach the phoneme /ʒ/ explicitly in the belief that students will imitate the teacher. However most Spanish speakers can't hear the difference between /ʒ/ and /ʃ/ and they are not aware that vision /ˈvɪʒən/ and mission /ˈmɪʃən/ don't rhyme.
Once they learn the sound, since it doesn't exist in Spanish, many Spanish speakers tend to pronounce it like /dʒ/.
- Pronunciation exercises: /dʒ/ vs /ʒ/
- Pronunciation exercises: /ʒ/ vs /ʃ/
- Decoding exercises: "sion"