Consonants /s/ versus /ʒ/, 11 pairs     [looseluge.html]

The spelling of /s/ is <s> or <ce>. The /ʒ/ sound is spelled <ge>, <su> and <j> where it ocurs initially in the loan word jabot.

The contrast is between two fricatives, one voiceless and one voiced but fairly close in the mouth. The /ʒ/ sound may be troublesome for learners, since there are many languages which do not have a close equivalent. However, the contrast between the two is so rare that it will probably not be a problem.

The huge discrepancy in frequency, with /s/ nearly 100 times more common than /ʒ/, means that the figure for the mean density is only 0.1%. The set makes 8 semantic contrasts, a loading of 74%.

base beige
Bruce Bruges
closer closure
lesser leisure 
loose luge
  looses luges
Messrs measures
person Persian
  persons Persians
sabot jabot 
  sabots jabots 

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, July 2014
updated Chiang Mai, 2024