Hi,

As was requested by Richard, I have moved this discussion from my inbox to the GE.

I asked Richard:

Would you pronounce Hasan as / hæsən/ or /hæzən/. In Arabic, as you may know, it is pronounced with [s]. Yet, a friend of mine told me that if we wrote the name with one (s), a native speaker will pronounce the (s) as [z] unlike if the (s) was doubled i.e Hassan.

And if we doubled that letter, as my Friend suggested, we will end up with a different name. That is حسان but not حسن..

Now, I would like to have your answers to the two questions below.

1. Would you, the native speakers, pronounce the one (s) in Hasan as /z/?
2. I wounder if there is a word in English with a double (s) yet pronounced as /z/?

Richard's reply:


I don't know where your friend got that idea, Izzy, but whether it's Hasan or Hassan, it's going to be pronounced with the voiceless [s]. And no, there's no word in English with a double s that's pronounced like [z]. By the way, we normally see the name transliterated as Hassan.

Then Mahdi, one of the our GE members, and my collegue asked the following question:


Do know why Richard named you Izzy?, I think because your name is Ismael then he pronoumced it Izmael !
I can pronouce Hasan = Hazan

*look at this word (has) it pronounced /haz/ !

Besides what Mahdi asked about, I think the word "Islam" has two pronuncitions; one with /s/ and the other with /z/.

Please account for this, too.
Original Post
First off, Izzy, I need to point out a correction of your IPA transcriptions. That name in English is not pronounced with a schwa. We actually pronounce the name with two long [a] sounds, whether transliterated with one or two s's.

Now, the problem is that, even though we have some basic pronunciation rules about how one sound can affect or influence another, there are always exceptions to these rules.

For English words, we usually pronounce s as voiceless, but some notable exceptions are in 3rd person singular in the simple present or when making some nouns plural when we add that e: passes, bridges.

As for has, that's an exception. In the word bus the s is voiceless. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to some pronunciations, Izzy.

As for your formal name, Ismael, the s is always voiceless, never voiced. So Mahdi's theory just got shot down, I'm afraid. I gave you the nickname Izzy because it's more commonly used for the name Isadore, in which the s is voiced. Very few Americans are named Ismael, so I just adapted the common nickname to fit your name. Wink

As for Islam, yes, some English speakers say [Is - læm] while others say [Iz - læm]. Why? There's no answer to that; it's just the way people have taken a foreign word and dealt with it in the sound system of their own language. The English sound system is sometimes quite "loose," so we end up with two pronunciations, especially since it's not a native word.

And here's the big finish to this thread: As I've mentioned many times, adults want to analyze everything when they learn another language, but we can't always do that. In fact, overanalyzing can be counterproductive when learning another language. The long and short of it is that it really doesn't matter why both Hasan and Hassan will be pronounced with a voiceless [s]; that's just the way it is. So perhaps you guys should cool it when it comes to trying to analyze everything. Just accept the way native speakers say something, and do it that way.

By the way, here's something you might find interesting. In my part of the US (the Northeast) and in many other areas as well, when we pluralize house, we change the voiceless s to a voiced fricative, [z], and say [haU - zIz]. But people in some areas, like the Midwest, maintain the voiceless s even in the plural and say [haU - sIz]. Why do some change that voiceless s while others maintain it in the plural? Nobody really knows -- and it really doesn't matter. That's just the way it is. Smile
Thanks a lot, Richard.

quote:
First off, Izzy, I need to point out a correction of your IPA transcriptions. That name in English is not pronounced with a schwa. We actually pronounce the name with two long [a] sounds, whether transliterated with one or two s's.


1. Since I don't understand this symbol [a], I wonder if you can give me a word where that sounds exists.

quote:
AS for your formal name, Ismael, the s is always voiceless, never voiced. So Mahdi's theory just got shot down, I'm afraid. I gave you the nickname Izzy because it's more commonly used for the name Isadore, in which the s is voiced. Very few Americans are named Ismael, so I just adapted the common nickname to fit your name.


2. Believe it or not, when I went to England, I was called by the host family, who were British, as IZMAEL, never ISMAEL.

3. What about ISRAEL, why isn't pronounced by some with /z/ instead of /s/ as it is the case with ISLAM?
Last edited by izzylovesyouall
1. [a] is the long sound, as in the word father.

2. Ah, the Brits! LOL Smile Well, all I can talk about is North American English, of course, which is what I did in my reply above.

3. What about it? You're still trying to find all sorts of rules and analyses for pronunciation quirks -- which is exactly what they are, quirks. As I've said, there's not always any rhyme or reason to why we say one word this way and another word that way.
Thanks a lot, Richard.

I have just checked the pronunciation of Hassan in Longman Pronouncing Dictionary and found that it can be pronounced in four different ways listed below consecutively.

1. /hə'sɑːn/

2. /hæ'sɑːn/

3. /'hæsən/

4. /'hɑːsɑːn/
Last edited by izzylovesyouall
quote:
Thanks a lot to you both, Izzy and Richard.


You're welcome, Mahdi. Smile
quote:
And here's the big finish to this thread: As I've mentioned many times, adults want to analyze everything when they learn another language, but we can't always do that. In fact, overanalyzing can be counterproductive when learning another language. The long and short of it is that it really doesn't matter why both Hasan and Hassan will be pronounced with a voiceless [s]; that's just the way it is. So perhaps you guys should cool it when it comes to trying to analyze everything. Just accept the way native speakers say something, and do it that way.

I couldn't agree more, Richard.

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