I've come across this French name Jacques and the first letter of this name is not pronounced in standard way with English names which starts with the same letter. As far as I know, in English the letter J in the names which start with J is pronounces like G in the English alphabet.

I would like to ask are there any English words which have the same sound with J in the name Jacques.

The pronunciation of Jacques https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ft8M34gqw9I

  • I know of proper nouns not from French (e.g. Beijing, Taj Mahal) but I can't think of any common words. Perhaps someone else can?
    – Adam
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 19:11
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    @catija English <j> or <g> followed by <i> or <e> are normally pronounced as an affricate, /dʒ/, with the fricative /ʒ/ preceded by a stop; French <j> is pronounced as the fricative alone, without the stop. Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 19:20
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    The <z> in azure and the <s> in words like treasure, pleasure, leisure, vision, fusion are all pronounced /ʒ/. Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 19:22
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    Zha Zha Gabor is an an example.
    – user6951
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 20:47
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    @Adam At the risk of being pedantic, although Taj Mahal and Beijing are both commonly pronounced by English speakers using /ʒ/, in both cases it's a hypercorrection where the Persian and Mandarin words both have something that sounds much more like the mundane affricate /dʒ/ that <j> normally represents in English <judge>! Commented May 13, 2021 at 15:10

4 Answers 4


The letter 'J' usually represents the sound /ʒ/ in French. In English this sound is most often represented by the letter 'S'. A large number of the words that have this sound in actually came to us from Old French. Many of them end in -sure. Here are some examples:

  • leisure, treasure, pleasure. closure, exposure, seizure (yes, that last one is spelled with a 'Z'!)

There are also many nouns originally from Latin which came to us from old French which end in sion. These endings are pronounced /ʒn/. Here are some examples of these:

  • abrasion, adhesion, version, , allusion, aversion, circumcision, cohesion, collision, collusion, conclusion, confusion, conversion, corrosion, decision, delusion, derision, erosion, evasion, exclusion, explosion, fusion, infusion ...

There are also two adjectives ending -sual which usually have the /ʒ/ sound; casual and visual.

Lastly there are many words from ancient Greek with the ending -sia, often pronounced /ʒə/. Here are some examples of some of these:

  • ambrosia, amnesia, kinesthesia, euthanasia, synaesthesia

The /ʒ/ sound is actually the rarest consonant sound in English. It nearly always occurs in the middle of a word. There is only one common noun in English ( - so I was told at university) which begins with the sound /ʒ/. This is the word /ʒɒnrə/, "genre".

Hope this is helpful!

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    My copy of the CMU Pronouncing Dictionary contains 89 words starting with /ʒ/, of which 87 are foreign proper nouns. The other two are genre and gendarme. Looks like you were told right!
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented Feb 12, 2015 at 15:40
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    In your adjective list, you used "usually", but didn't include it as a third example! Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 1:44
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    I can add a third native word (or at least, nativised, arguably more than genre or gendarme) that starts with /ʒ/: the very informal British English word "zhoozh" /ʒʊʒ/ meaning "embellish, prettify, tart up": en.wiktionary.org/wiki/zhoozh Commented May 13, 2021 at 15:06
  • @tea-and-cake Yes, nice word! Commented May 17, 2021 at 20:07

Yes. Here's a list of all the English words containing /ʒ/ from a computer search, minus varying forms of the same word, words that vary only by a prefix or suffix, and a lot of proper nouns. Most of these are well-known, though there are a few that are rare.

abrasion adagio adhesion allusion ambrosia amnesia anaesthesia Anastasia Andalusia anesthesia aphasia arbitrage Artesian Asia aspersion aversion azure barrage beige Beijing bourgeois brazier Brezhnev camouflage Cartesian cashmere casual casualty Caucasian circumcision closure cohesion collage collision collusion composure concierge conclusion confusion contusion conversion corrosion corsage cortege countermeasure crozier decision déjà vu delusion derision diffusion Dijon dispersion diversion division dressage dysplasia enclosure entourage envision equation erosion euthanasia evasion excision exclusion excursion explosion exposure extrusion fantasia foreclosure Frasier fusion garage gendarme genre Hoosier hosiery illusion implosion incision inclusion incursion incursions Indonesia infusion intrusion invasion inversion leisure lesion lingerie luxury Magnesia maharaja Malaysia massage measure mirage misprision montage occasion occlusion Parisian Persia persuasion perversion pleasure Polynesia precision preclusion prestige profusion protégé provision raj recision regime rescission reversion revision revisions Rhodesia Roget rouge sabotage seclusion seizure Solzhenitsyn suasion subdivision submersion subversion supervision television transfusion treasure Tunisia unusual usual version vision visual Zsa-Zsa

I used the CMU Pronouncing Dictionary, which contains North American English pronunciations. In British English, many of these words end with /-zjə/ rather than /-ʒə/, though it varies by region.

  • Are there any pairs we can make with a word's non-voiced counterpart? I mean, do any of these have non-voiced counterparts, like peace/peas? I just mean non-voice the /ʒ/ part... Sha-Sha? R<AW>sh?
    – user6951
    Commented Feb 12, 2015 at 5:49
  • @δοῦλος I just looked them over, and…no. There are some with alternative pronunciations with /ʃ/, but /ʒ/–/ʃ/ never distinguishes two words. Well, I guess we can dispense with the theory that you need a minimal pair to have a phoneme.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented Feb 12, 2015 at 6:05
  • Can we remove Andalusia from the list - could be confusing as the people who live there pronounce it Andaluthia & to the rest of the country it's pronounced as it's spelt, no gz softening of the 'sia' [see-er] ending;) [I can't do phonetics, you may have noticed] Some of the others - Cartesian, Caucasian, in fact all the countries, end in 'zee-er/zee-an' to my ear, & don't have the gz sound. [BrE] Commented Feb 12, 2015 at 8:53
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    @Araucaria Thanks. I just looked into it a little, and yeah, that may get too complicated. If the OP asks for more than just "common English words with /ʒ/", perhaps one of us can provide the details.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented Feb 12, 2015 at 15:47
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    "adagio" and "Beijing" only have /ʒ/ for some speakers, and it's a hyperforeignism that's caused by the French pronunciation of "g" and "j."
    – sumelic
    Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 0:12

In some dialects of English, many words borrowed from French will keep aspects of their French pronunciation. (The silent 't' in 'denouement'; the silent 'r' in 'foyer', the fricative second 'g' in 'garage', etc.)

I can't think of any French words with 'j' that have been borrowed into English, however.

There are English words that have the French 'j' sound, but without the letter 'j' itself. The three that come to mind are vision, pleasure, and treasure. In all three, the 's' is pronounced like French 'j'.

(My native dialect is northern Ontario English, but I haven't noticed these words being pronounced differently in other dialects.)


The noun garage can be pronounced with a French j in BrE.


  • I thought only Americans pronounce like that..In which part of England people say it with a French J, can I ask
    – Mrt
    Commented Feb 12, 2015 at 20:43
  • In BrE there seems to be no strict form. It's either directly from the French pronunciation, gara′zhe, or totally anglicised as 'ga′rridge'… which leads to a bit of fun with the word sometimes spelled porage [more usually spelled & pronounced porridge] ;) Commented Feb 14, 2015 at 14:29

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