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How to pronounce the "s" at the end of pupils. What is the phonetic of this word.

marked as duplicate by Drew, herisson, jimm101, Janus Bahs Jacquet, Edwin Ashworth Dec 3 '17 at 13:21

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    The same as "apples". – Hot Licks Dec 2 '17 at 13:06
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    It's a phonemic /z/. Sometimes native speakers might pronounce it in ways that sound more like /s/ to speakers of other languages (i.e., it's not always fully voiced), but if you pronounce it as a /z/ you should be understood perfectly. And if you pronounce it like an /s/ you may not be. – Peter Shor Dec 2 '17 at 13:51
  • @Peter I have to disagree there—if you pronounce it [s], you’ll be understood just fine. That goes for pretty much all plural /z/’s: there’s so much variation and vacillation in the [z] → [s] direction, even within native speakers, that non-native speakers using the unvoiced allophone where the voiced would be expected is extremely unlikely to cause any kind of problems in comprehension. In the majority of cases, it would probably not even be noticed. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 2 '17 at 15:07
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Well, using [s] will cause prefortis-clipping, which will be the major factor in distinguishing pens and pense or peas and peace. So, using [s], will be problematic in several instances, though maybe not in pupils. (The other factors distinguishing [s] and devoiced [z] are not entriely insignificant. The increase in air pressure for [s] is much greater, whether voiced or not, and [s] is therefore appreciaby louder, all other things being equal, than devoiced [z]). – Araucaria Dec 2 '17 at 16:41
  • @Araucaria In a native speaker, yes, pre-fortis clipping will usually occur; in many non-native speakers (which the asker here appears to be), that won’t necessarily be the case. The vowel distinction between [pʰiˑs] and [pʰiːz] is essential to native speakers, but lost on many non-native speakers. And of course there are many instances where pre-fortis clipping accompanies sublevel devoicing, but not surface-level devoicing, even in native speakers, so you end up with unvoiced [s] with no clipping. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 2 '17 at 16:46
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In a comment, Peter Shor wrote:

It's a phonemic /z/. Sometimes native speakers might pronounce it in ways that sound more like /s/ to speakers of other languages (i.e., it's not always fully voiced), but if you pronounce it as a /z/ you should be understood perfectly. And if you pronounce it like an /s/ you may not be.

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