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In this song at 0:58, Christina Perri pronounced the word "closer" with an S sound: clo[s]er

I have always pronounced and heard it with a Z sound. Is the pronunciation of "closer" in this video specific to her accent? It is strange.

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  • reading her name I think she is Italian(i'm italian too and never heard about her), and I think it is derived from this.
    – Liiuc
    Dec 17 '20 at 15:03
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    @Liiuc: How? She pronounces it correctly though. The OP confused close (v) and close (adj) and thought that the adj had a voiced sound (/z/).
    – Void
    Dec 17 '20 at 15:13
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    In English orthography, doubling a consonant after a vowel is used to indicate that the vowel is short. So while you apparently intended the spelling "closser" to emphasize the "s" sound, it instead makes it look like you're saying that the "o" is short. Dec 17 '20 at 23:16
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    @Liiuc from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christina_Perri : born in Pennsylvania, Polish mother, Italian father, went to school in the US. I'd guess she is an US English native speaker. (Also, I don't think an Italian speaker would use an /s/ sound here). Dec 18 '20 at 12:19
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    tl;dr It's not strange; you've been saying it wrong this whole time! Dec 18 '20 at 16:44
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Christina Perri pronounces it correctly and that's not restricted to American English. As far as I know, the pronunciation of closer (adj) with an /s/ is the correct pronunciation in almost all varieties of English.

Pronunciation of close (verb)

I think you're confusing close (adj) and close (verb). The verb close is pronounced [kləʊz]—with a /z/.

Pronunciation of close (adj)

The adjective close, its comparative and superlative are pronounced with an /s/:

  • close → [kləʊs]
  • closer → [ˈkləʊsə]
  • closest → [ˈkləʊsɪst]

Pronunciation of closer (noun)

There's also a noun 'closer', which is pronounced with a /z/ sound: [ˈkləʊzə]



Clo[s]e enough to clo[z]e the door???

Both the 'close's in the sentence above are pronounced with a different sound. The reason for this idiosyncrasy is...... (welp, don't get me started on that) Old English's fricative voicing.

There were three fricative phonemes, /f, θ, s/ in Old English. Old English had a phonetic property called fricative voicing, whereby fricatives—s, f, þ ~ ð1—became voiced when they were flanked by vowels or a vowel and another voiced consonant2. The realisations [f - v], [θ - ð] and [s - z] were allophonic. It was the only way to get [z], [v] and [ð] because Old English didn't have phonemic [z], [v] and [ð].

  • Wolf was wulf and it would've been pronounced [wulf], wolves was wulfas and would've been pronounced something like [wulvɑːs].
  • House (noun) was hūs and would've been pronounced [huːs], house (verb) was hūsian and would've been pronounced something like [huːziɑn] (I'm not sure though).
  • Bath (noun) was bæþ and pronounced [bæθ], bathe was baþian and would have been pronounced [ˈbɑ.ði.ɑn].

As you can see, Old English was a heavily inflected, but a very phonetic language.

  • Close (verb) was clȳsan and was pronounced [ˈklyː.zɑn], phonetically.
  • close (adj) was clȳs, pronounced [klyːs], phonetically.

There are many other examples such as grass graze, glass glaze, belief believe, life lives, leaf leaves, wife wives, knife knives, bath bathe, breath breathe, north northern etc etc.

The endings were later on lost and the voiced sounds remained.


1. In Old English, the letters þ and ð were used indiscriminately by Old English scribes to represent the th sound.
2. The fricatives [s, f, þ ~ ð] were voiceless elsewhere; at the start or a word, end of a word, and adjacent to a voiceless sound.

0
13

You may be confusing two words that are spelt the same.

  • "Closer" (adj), meaning something that is more close (near), has an 'S' sound.
  • "Closer" (noun), meaning something or someone that closes (shuts), has a 'Z' sound.

Note also that there is a difference in the way words are pronounced when they are sung. When singing, we break up words on the vowel sounds because you cannot 'hold' a consonant. Instead of "close-ur" it would be "clo - sur". This results in it sounding a little different to how it would be pronounced in speech. In fact, if you look at sheet music that contains lyrics, the words are often shown broken up as they are meant to be sung.

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    Put that coffee down. Coffee's for closers!
    – choster
    Dec 17 '20 at 21:55
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    Seems to me that ‘s’ is one of the few consonants you really can “hold”—but the effect would be very much incongruous in the middle of a love song, as it would remind most English speakers of a snake’s hiss.
    – KRyan
    Dec 18 '20 at 1:28

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