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Pronouncing the letter /ˈdʒeɪ/

'j' as in jaws

Posted by Jeena

I migrated to Sweden in 2005 and I still make many stupid mistakes while speaking Swedish. I try to get people to tell me when I make some mistake so I can become better over time. But most people are not very comfortable with correcting me which is sad, because it often takes years before I find out that I've been saying something in the wrong way (grammar, pronunciation, wrong words, etc.). I have the same problem with English, I don't speak it very often but most of my writing is in English. I often try to get someone to look over important pieces of my writing. This works much better, because correcting a text in front of your own computer doesn't feel the same way like correcting someone while he/she is talking.

The Swedes are really great at English, basically everybody here in Sweden speaks it to a degree that you can have quite normal conversations with them.

But there is one thing which bothers me which I'd like to address here. It is the way they pronounce words with the letter 'j' in it.

Its normal name in English is jay /ˈdʒeɪ/ or jy /ˈdʒaɪ/; when used for the y sound, it may be called yod (/ˈjɒd/ or /ˈjoʊd/).

It seems that swedes always pronounce it like when it is used for the ‘y’ sound when in fact it is most of the time spoken as /dʒ/.

I have one example from the latest episode of my favorite swedish podcast Obiter Dictum. There both of the hosts say the word "jaws" because they speak about the movie Jaws in english. So I took the two parts where they say this word in this episode and put them into a mp3 file.

I then went to YouTube and found the official trailer for this movie and found the part where they say the name of the movie. I put both together so you can hear the difference here:

Can you hear the difference between /ˈjɒws/ and /ˈdʒaws/?

The word jaws is only one example but this happens with almost all words which have the letter 'j' in them and should be pronounced with /dʒ/, like the word 'just' for example /ˈjɒst/ vs. /ˈdʒast/ and so on.

This happens to our lecturer at the university all the time while he is standing in front of us. I probably should say something so he can get better at that. Obviously I wouldn't interrupt him in the middle of his lecture and expose him in front of the whole class but instead I would tell him afterwards when we're alone.

I really hope that nobody feels offended by that, if you make this mistake then it is really just to help you, because I feel that nobody will tell you that you're not pronouncing it right, I know (almost) nobody tells me so it is very difficult for me to get things right.

My parents for example are living in Germany since 1989. They only have german friends so you'd think that their German would be flawless. But the truth is, nobody (but me) corrects them so they never learn to speak correct German, which is really a shame.

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