90: The j sound, spelled j, dge, ge, and g(i)

The 'dge' and 'j' spelling are both usually pronounced with the 'j sound.' And don't forget, a 'j sound' is simply a voiced 'ch sound'!


Hi everyone, and welcome back to Seattle Learning Academy's American English Pronunciation Podcast. My name is Mandy, and this is our 90th podcast.

Two weeks ago I talked about the ch sound (ch sound). Today I'm going to explain a related sound, the j sound (j sound) as in the words jump, strange and giant.

The ch sound and j sound are both affricates. An affricate is a type of sound created when we stop all the air from leaving the vocal tract, and then, when we release the air, we do it with friction, or a little extra sound. English has only two affricate sounds, the ch sound and j sound. The only difference between the ch sound and j sound is voicing. The ch sound is unvoiced, and the j sound is voiced.

You can feel the difference between voiced and unvoiced sounds by placing a finger or two against the front of your neck. You will feel the vibration of a voiced sound, but not the unvoiced sounds. That vibration is created by your vocal cords. Feel both of these sounds:


(ch sound, j sound, ch sound, j sound)


Be careful. If you add a vowel sound to the ch sound, and say it like cha, you will be adding a voiced sound to the ch sound, and you'll feel the vibration of that sound, which may confuse you. The ch sound is pronounced as (ch sound) and the j sound as (j sound). The sounds aren't cha and ja, but simply (ch sound) and (j sound).

I hope you remember form two weeks ago that the ch sound began with the tongue in the same position as a t sound. Since the j sound is a voiced ch sound, it should not be a surprise that the j sound begins by stopping the air with the tongue in the same position as the d sound (j sound).

With the j sound, just like with the ch sound, the stop is released with friction. That friction, if I were to hold it, would sound like (zh sound). If I combine (d sound) and (zh sound), I get (j sound), the j sound.

There is also a spelling concept that is the same between the ch sound and j sound. The ch sound can be spelled tch, as in the words watch and catch. There is no additional t sound in those words. It is only a ch sound. The j sound has a similar concept in the dge spelling, as in the words judge and bridge. Although we see the letter d there, we do not add an extra d sound to the word. The dge spelling is pronounced as just the j sound.

There is obviously no letter j in the words strange or giant, yet they are pronounced with a j sound. The letter g, when followed by the letters e or i, are generally pronounced as the j sound. So the words strange and giant are both pronounced with the j sound.

We're going to do two sets of practice today, one is just the j sound with it's various spellings, then we'll practice a few minimal sets between the j sound and ch sound.

Repeat the following words after me.

j sound spelled j:




j sound spelled dge:




j sound spelled ge or gi:


gentle magic charge


Here is the minimal set practice between the ch sound and j sound. I'll say the word with the ch sound first:


choke, joke
chunk, junk
rich, ridge


As a quick review, here are the key points to remember about the j sound:

  • a j sound is a voiced ch sound
  • there is no additional d sound when the j sound is spelled dge
  • ge and gi are also common j sound spellings

That's all for today everyone. Don't forget you can find transcripts for this, and all of our shows, at www.pronunicna.com/podcast, and you can follow us on Twitter, username pronuncian, to get all the updates on new Pronuncian content as well as other interesting English bits.

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