Voiced postalveolar fricative

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The Voiced Postalveolar fricative /ʒ/ is also known as a palatal, because of some of the influence of the palate in direction of the tongue, but it's not a true palatal sound.



English, like many language, has many loanwords from French which have the /ʒ/ sound. In many cases the sound is transformed into /ʤ/ in English, due to English tendency towards that sound. However, there are a few words which do have /ʒ/ outside of French loanwords. Examples include pleasure /plɛʒɘɹ/, leisure /liʒəɹ/ or /lɛʒəɹ/, Asia /eʒə/, vision /vɪʒən/.

Romance Languages


The sound /ʒ/ is represented two different ways in French. The first way is the orthographic j. The second ways is to get g before i or e. This is a common sound in the French language, making it one of the signature sounds of it. Many languages can get this sound via French Loanwords.


In some dialects of American Spanish, such as Argentinian Spanish, the /j/ sounds (spelt ll or j) is pronounced /ʒ/.


Languages of the world represent /ʒ/ in several ways:

Written Languages
j French, Portuguese, Romanian, Turkish
ž Czech
ż Polish (more exactly [ʑ])
zs Hungarian
ж Cyrillic alphabet (quite standard)


Sound changes


  • In English, /zj/ became /ʒ/. For example, vision /vɪzjən//vɪʒən/
  • In Latvian, /dj/ became /dʒ/ and eventually /ʒ/. For example, compare "briedis" ("a deer" (Nom.)) /'bria̯dis/ and "brieža" ("od a deer"(Gen.))/'bria̯ʒa/.


This page is by Timothy Patrick Snyder. Back to IPA