"Hard" vs. "soft" sibilants
September 7, 2023 11:29 AM Subscribe
Consider the pair of words (1a) mace, (1b) maze, as well as the pair (2a) zing, (2b) sing. Each pair has a single difference in sound. In each pair, would it occur to you to call one of the sounds "hard" and the other "soft" (or, if it wouldn't occur to you naturally, would you nevertheless have a strong instinct about which was which if someone else used those terms)? If so, which word in each pair has the "hard" sound?
Please note: I know the terms linguists would use instead of "hard" and "soft"; no need to mention those or to explicate the distinction. This question is about folk usage.