I am from Hong Kong and not a native English speaker.

I was taught during childhood that the three consonants 'p', 't', 'k' should be pronounced as voiceless sound or breathed sound while 'b','d','g' be as voiced sound.

In this regard, I find no difficulty in pronounce the words like pace, tea and kill where I would pronounce the beginning consonants as voiceless sound.

However, if the three consonants were placed after the letter ‘s’, I find that I would pronounce them as voiced sound; i.e. ‘space’ would be read as ‘sbace’, ‘standard’ as ‘sdandard’, and ‘skill’ as ‘sgill’. I have discussed with my friends and they said they would read in the same way.

I would be grateful if anyone could help clarify whether I have pronounced them wrongly or there are exceptional rules in phonetics. Thanks for helping.


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Comments  (Page 2) 
Hi Wein

I am a native english speaker and everybody i know pronounced 'space' as something similar to 'sbace'. If it try to make the 'p' voiceless it does not flow properly and it sounds very strange. So i have to say that you are right in pronouncing these words how i imagine you do.

However, though you have been told that p and b are the same sounds except that one is voiced and the other is not, this is not quite correct. There is a slight difference in the lip positioning and the things that happen inside the mouth.

Also, it is possible to make a voiceless 'b', for example in the word 'lobe'. There is a difference between the pronunciation of 'lobe' and 'lope', although they are both voiceless.

Ok, bye.

AlvinSotonIs the pronounciation of unaspirated/voiceless "p" equivalent to "b"?

No. We are talking about three different kinds of sounds here.

b - voiced, unaspirated (base)

p - unvoiced, unaspirated (space)

p - unvoiced, aspirated (pace)


d - voiced, unaspirated (Dan)
t - unvoiced, unaspirated (Stan)
t- unvoiced, aspirated (tan)

g - voiced, unaspirated (goop)
k/c - unvoiced, unaspirated (scoop)
k/c - unvoiced, aspirated (coop)

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