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Are there words in English with the letter C in which it's really pronounced as Z?

By googling I found an old book which counts these words as in which letter C sounds like Z: suffice, discern, sacrifice. But checking it in Cambridge dictionary raises that it is not true or not updated and those words pronounce as C rather than Z.

Another old book (The Oxford Spelling Book) says:

"C sounds like Z in squinancy which is pronounced like quinzy"

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  • The final syllable of suffice and sacrifice rhymes with "rice", not with "rise".
    – TimR
    Nov 17, 2017 at 16:11
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    Yes, and it has this for rice: /raɪs/ Contrast prize: /praɪz/
    – TimR
    Nov 17, 2017 at 19:14
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    I agree with @Tᴚoɯɐuo - The final c in suffice and sacrifice sound more like s than z.
    – J.R.
    Nov 17, 2017 at 19:45
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    It might have been true in 1810 but not now.
    – LawrenceC
    Nov 17, 2017 at 19:57
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    The name of the city of Quincy (in Massachusetts) is pronounced with a z, like "quinzy". Nov 17, 2017 at 22:30

3 Answers 3

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The only examples I can find after searching are proper nouns: The city of Quincy (/ˈkwɪnzi/ KWIN-zee) as mentioned in comments, and the highest mountain in Australia Mount Kosciuszko (/ˌkɒziˈʌskoʊ/).

Standard (i.e. RP or GA) pronunciations of sacrifice and discern now use /s/.

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This seems to occur in one pronunciation of the rare (or even archaic) word sice, defined by Merriam Webster as

the number six on a die : a throw of six in dice

MW gives the pronunciation as \ˈsīs, ˈsīz\; the Oxford English Dictionary agrees that it can be pronounced with /z/ in American English (although the OED only lists the pronunciation with final /s/ for British English).

I have never heard this word; I just came across it in the dictionary.

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No, in English, C either makes a [k] or [s] sound so c in "suffice", "sacrifice" and "discern" are all [s]. The c making a [z] in "suffice" is obsolete pronounciation. S makes a [z] sound in words like "phrase".

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  • Hello Akshat, this question is from 2017 and so six years old. I'm not sure your new answer adds much to the answers that are already here. You can be more useful to the community by answering new questions or adding a different insight to older ones.
    – James K
    Dec 23, 2023 at 23:01

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