1

Look at this word "clothes" /kloʊðz/ (source )

To create the /ð/, the tip of the tongue has to be placed under the upper teeth & then release the air from your throat to your mouth so that the air flies between the upper teeth & the tip of the tongue.

To create the /z/, the tip of the tongue has to be placed behind the lower teeth, then upper teeth & lower teeth have to come closed to each other, then release the air from your throat to your mouth so that the air flies between the upper teeth & lower teeth.

Ok, if we adhere the 2 above rule, then it is very difficult to pronounce /ðz/ because bring the tip of the tongue from under upper teeth (starting position) to behind the lower teeth (ending position) in a few milliseconds is too slow & too hard.

So I think /ðz/ will create 1 unified sound only (like /dʒ/ which creates 1 unified sound, not 2 separated sounds) but I don't know to the tongue is positioned?

So, Does /ðz/ create 1 unified sound or 2 separated sounds?

If it creates just 1 unified sound, then how the tip of the tongue is positioned?

  • 3
    The word "clothes" is fairly often pronounced with just the /z/, like "close." – sumelic Dec 6 '15 at 2:04
  • In very distinct speech (like a newscaster or actor), there might by two distinct sounds. But mostly 'clothes' and 'close' are almost indistinguishable (the 'z' in the first might be held a little longer. – Mitch Dec 11 '15 at 4:36
3

In my American English (Ohio), the /ð/ assimilates completely to the following /z/, and "clothes" has [zz], a long z, at the end, at least as one possibility. The difference between "clothes" and "close" (the verb) can be just long final z versus short final z, but what seems to happen for me sometimes is that the [zz] is not especially long, but is voiced, while the single final [z] of "close" is devoiced (but remains weakly articulated as compared with /s/, as with the adjective "close").

This is my intuitive judgement -- I didn't do any measurements. I just asked my wife to practice "Close the close clothes closet!" a few times and tell me about her pronunciation, and she said "close" the verb sounded just like "clothes", when she said the two.

  • So, your wife & you have just done the experience after reading my question right? – Tom Dec 6 '15 at 3:47
  • Yes, for my wife (who is also a linguist), but I've worked on the description of low level phonetic detail in English for over 40 years, and I had previously noticed the assimilation in this cluster. – Greg Lee Dec 6 '15 at 3:54

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