Although the traditional phonemic assignment of English <j> and <ch> are /dʒ/ and /tʃ/, respectively, I believe there's an argument to be made that these are realized in some American dialects as /tʃ/ and /tʃʰ/. These would be analogous to the Mandarin pinyin <zh> and <ch> and so could be a useful pedagogical tool in that regard when considering English minimal pairs (junk /tʃʌŋk/ vs. chunk /tʃʰʌŋk/). Are there dialects where this distinction is more clearly noticed?

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    Sure. That happens. But it's probly not a dialectal form with a local speech group; it's more likely to be an individual variation in somebody's speech. Individual variation is much broader than areal phenomena.
    – jlawler
    Commented Jun 2, 2023 at 2:15
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    Did you mean "phonemic" in the title?
    – TKR
    Commented Jun 2, 2023 at 2:38
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    /tʃ/ and /tʃʰ/ are analyses, [tʃ] and [tʃʰ] are realizations.
    – user6726
    Commented Jun 2, 2023 at 16:54
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    The question is somewhat unclearly asked, since it conflates phonemic and phonetic values, but regardless of the exact interpretation, I think it would be hard to answer anything but yes to the main question: it is very common in all Englishes for ⟨j⟩ to be pronounced [tʃ] and ⟨ch⟩ as [tʃʰ], and it would also be perfectly possible to analyse the data in a way that these sounds correspond to phonemes denoted /tʃ/ and /tʃʰ/. Whether the former is dialect-dependent (the latter definitely is not) is a better question, to which I don’t know the answer. Commented Jun 2, 2023 at 19:57
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    Also note that the same observation goes for ⟨b/p⟩, ⟨d/t⟩, ⟨g/c~k⟩, etc. All ‘voiced’ stops and affricates in English are frequently realised as unvoiced, as in Mandarin, and you can certainly analyse them as being phonemically /p t k/ vs aspirated /pʰ tʰ kʰ/. The primary reason this is not usually done is that they are normally voiced postvocalically, where they also serve to lengthen the preceding vowel. Initial devoicing is a simpler process than non-initial voicing + subsequent vowel lengthening. Commented Jun 2, 2023 at 20:01

1 Answer 1


English /θ/ ‘th’ is typically pronounced with an aspirated consonant in Indian English, [t̪ʰ]. The θ sound is not found in any common language indigenous to India, but aspirated consonants are common.

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