This affricate is not present in consonant tables for English language found in my textbooks. I do not trust them too much, because they omit some other English sounds too.
I wonder mainly about English words of foreign origin. There is hardly a language which doesn't have any loanwords. E. g. English has words such as 'pizza' and 'zucchini'. And there are proper names with Z of German or Italian origin, e. g. Vaduz (name of capital of Liechtenstein). I want to ask how to pronounce them in English? Is there an affricate sound? And if not, how to pronounce them correctly.

  • Proper names should be pronounced as they are by the person so named, or the locals of the place so named. However, some languages don't normally use some sounds, and a close approximation may have to suffice. For instance, Tsar is often pronouncd Zarr in AmE.
    – Davo
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 11:31

3 Answers 3


The affricate /t͡s/ is not considered to be one of the basic sounds of English (it's not an English "phoneme"). English speakers do undeniably make use of a consonant cluster /ts/: you can find it at the end of plural nouns like bats or crates or third-person singular verbs like hits or fights. It just isn't considered to be a sound of its own: it's just a combination of the /t/ sound and the /s/ sound.

The consonant cluster /ts/ doesn't occur at the start of any native English word. It's not particularly difficult for an English speaker to pronounce /ts/ in this position, but I'd compare it to other consonant clusters that don't occur at the start of native English words, like /ps/ or /kʃ/.

Foreign words that are spelled with the letter Z may be pronounced by English speakers with /z/, even if the original language had another sound. This is the case for zucchini (pronounced /zuˈkini/ in American English) and influenza. In some words like zeitgeist, you might hear either /z/ or /ts/. Rarely, this kind of variation leads to confusion in the other direction: the word chorizo, where Z represents /θ/ or /s/ in Spanish, is apparently pronounced as "choritso" by some English speakers.

  • What is a native English word? Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 7:53
  • 1
    @Clare: Is there any particular reason that you ask? It's hard to give a short answer to that question, because there are some complications to the concept of a "native English word". But I don't think any of the complications are relevant to my statement that /ts/ doesn't occur at the start of any native English word: as far as I know, it's true for any reasonable definition of "native English word".
    – sumelic
    Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 7:55
  • Perhaps you should use a less troubled expression. Commented Sep 19, 2018 at 8:04

A transcription for almost any word can be found in dictionaries nowadays. The loan-words should be pronounced the way they are written in a dictionary.

Take the word "pizza". It's an Italian word that is pronounced as [piːtsə], [pɪtsə] or ['piːtsə] in English.

Or the word "zucchini", also Italian. It is pronounced as [zu'kiːnɪ] or [zʊˈkiːni]. Notice that in Br.E. it's mostly called a "courgette" - [kɔː'ʒet].

Proper names are also pronounced the same way the dictionaries tell us:

Vaduz (name of capital of Liechtenstein) is pronounced as [vɑː'duːts] or [vaˈdʊts].

@Davo also suggested Tsar as an example:

Here's a Wikipedia article that says that "Tsar" - [zɑːr] or [tsɑːr] also spelled tzar, csar, or czar, is a title used to designate certain Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers.

Abbyy Lingvo also suggests [zɑː] and [tsɑː]

  • Re Abbyy Lingvo: Non-rhotic varieties (eg much BrE) would certainly use [zɑː] and [tsɑː] (as the r is post-vocalic), unless the following word begins with a vowel (linking-R) when the r would be used..
    – Dannie
    Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 2:50

Tsk- tsk , what are you talking about? ts, ts, ts I said to the cat to get her attention. Yes. They are native words in English that have the ts sound as an element.

How about considering this? Here the sound is identified as a denti-alveolar click and called a paralinguistic speech-sound, rather than a phoneme. The word tsk-tsk is used. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dental_click

I like to think of click as suction, rather than obstruction, which is what affricates do.

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