In this week’s article we focus on the /d/ sound (you can hear this in words such as ‘dog’, ‘puddle’, ‘bird’) and how this can sometimes sound more like a /ʤ/ sound (you can hear this in words such as ‘jam’, ‘gym’, ‘judge’ and ‘widget’). As with the article ‘When /t/ becomes /ʧ/’ you will find many similarities here because like /t/ becoming /ʧ/, /d/ can become /ʤ/ depending on what sound it is with.
/d/ Becomes /ʤ/ in One Word
Listen to the words below. Can you hear how /d/ can sound more like /ʤ/?
- drain – /ʤreɪn/ (usually transcribed as /dreɪn/)
- drip – /ʤrɪp/ (usually transcribed as /drɪp/)
- drag – /ʤræg/ (usually transcribed as /dræg/)
- dry – /ʤraɪ/ (usually transcribed as /draɪ/)
- drum – /ʤrʌm/ (usually transcribed as /drʌm/)
- dune – /ʤju:n/ (usually transcribed as /dju:n/)
- duke – /ʤju:k/ (usually transcribed as /dju:k/)
- due – /ʤju:/ (usually transcribed as /dju:/)
- dupe – /ʤju:p/ (usually transcribed as /dju:p/)
In examples 1 – 5 we find the /d/ sound with the /r/ sound/. When pronounced together /d/ sounds more like /ʤ/.
With examples 6 – 9 the /d/ sound is followed by a /u:/ sound however there is another sound you cannot see: a /j/ sound. You may remember the same happening with /t/ in words like ‘tune’, ’tuna’ and ‘tube’ where there is an invisible /j/ sound (/j/ is usually heard in words like ‘yellow’, ‘yolk’ and ‘mayo’) making it sound more like a /ʧ/ sound. The same is happening here, where the /j/ sound makes /d/ sound more like a /ʤ/.
Why does this happen?
The reason why /d/ sounds more like a /ʤ/ in examples 1 – 5 above is because it is easier to combine a /ʤ/ sound with a /r/ sound than to combine a /d/ sound with a /r/ sound. You can try doing this yourself. Whilst /d/ and /r/ is possible you may find you must add an additional vowel sound to make the /r/ sound clearer. You can listen to this comparison below (each word is repeated three times). Which one sounds clearer and smoother?
- drain – / dəreɪn/
- drain – /dreɪn/
- drain – / ʤreɪn/
Have a look at the pictures below. What do you think? Which one do you think is easier to do? To move from /d/ to /r/ or to move from /ʤ/ to /r/?
As a result, you may find that /r/ sounds clearer with /ʤ/ than with /d/.
With regards to examples 6 – 9, /d/ sounds more like /ʤ/ because of the invisible /j/ sound between the letters ‘d’ and ‘u’. For some speakers (like myself) it is easier to move from /ʤ/ to /j/ than from /d/ to /j/. You can test this yourself by switching between /ʤ/ and /j/, and /d/ and /j/. You might find that /ʤ/ and /j/ are made with similar parts of your mouth whilst /d/ and /j/ are made in different parts of your mouth. You can see this quite clearly in the pictures below too:
However, despite this you may hear pronunciation with /ʤ/ /j/ and /d/ /j/ by different speakers. You can hear both pronunciations below (each word is repeated three times):
- dune – a) /ʤju:n/ b) /dju:n/
- duke – a) /ʤju:k/ b) /dju:k/
- due – a) /ʤju:/ b) /dju:/
- dupe – a) /ʤju:p/ b) /dju:p/
/d/ Becomes /ʤ/ with Two Word
Listen to the examples below. Can you hear how the letter ‘d’ at the end of the first word sounds more like a /ʤ/ sound? Can you guess why?
- “I need your help.” – /aɪ ni:ʤjɔ: help/
- “A mid-year exam.” – /ə mɪʤjɪə ɪgzæm/
- “You cannot take a mud shower!” – /ju: kənɒt teɪk ə mʌʤʃaʊwə/
- “He’s a mad chap (informal for ‘person’) indeed!” – /hi:z ə mæʤʧæp/
- “I think I did a bad job.” – /aɪ θɪŋk aɪ dɪd ə bæʤʤɒb/
We can hear from the examples above that several sounds affect the /d/ sound (in final position) making it sound more like a /ʤ/ sound. In examples 1 – 2 we can see that it is the /j/ sound (in ‘your’ and ‘year’). In example 3, it is the /ʃ/ sound (in ‘shower’). In example 4, it is the /ʧ/ sound (in ‘chap’) and in example 5, it is the /ʤ/ sound (in ‘job’).
Why does this happen?
The reason why /d/ in final position changes to /ʤ/ sound depends on what sound comes after in the next word. In the examples above these sounds are /j/ /ʃ/ /ʧ/ and /ʤ/. The reason why this happens is because it is easier to move from a /ʤ/ sound to those sounds than to move from a /d/ sound. If you make these sounds you will notice that /ʤ/ uses similar parts of the mouth as /j/ /ʃ/ /ʧ/ however /d/ is made in a different part of the mouth. You can see this clearly in the pictures below.
Why might this be important for teaching?
Sounds changing are a strong feature of connected speech in English and this can cause problems for students who expect certain letters to have certain sounds. For example, students may see ‘d’ and expect it to have a /d/ sound (which it mostly does). When they listen to words and phrases in English where ‘d’ can sound more like a /ʤ/ they may get confused or it may take them longer to process the word.
As a result, it may be a good idea to draw your students attention to how ‘d’ can have a /ʤ/ sound to help with understanding words and phrases more quickly and also to help with their fluency.
So, next time you teach target vocabulary from your textbook which have the pronunciation features described above consider modelling the words with more of a /ʤ/ sound instead.
As always, these are pronunciation features of connected speech and if your students do not produce the /ʤ/ sound as intended they are not doing anything wrong!
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