HARD AND SOFT

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HARD AND SOFT. (1) Qualities of the letters C and G that depend on whether they are pronounced like k or s in the case of c or like the g in get or the j in jet in the case of g. When hard, c and g are pronounced as velar stops, as in cap/gap; when soft, c is pronounced as a sibilant, g as an affricate, as in cell/gell. (2) Popular terms used to describe VOICE quality, a hard voice being forceful and likely to be reinforced by stop consonants (Damn well tell him to come back tomorrow!), a soft voice being gentle, perhaps kind and compassionate, and likely to be reinforced by sibilants, affricates, fricatives, and liquids (Hush now; just leave it all to me). Male voices are often stereotyped as ‘hard’ and ‘rough’, female voices as ‘soft’ and ‘gentle’. (3) In phonetics, in the description of consonants, hard is an older term for fortis (articulated with considerable muscular tension or force of breath or plosion, as with the voiceless consonants of English, such as /p, t, k, s/) and soft for lenis (articulated with little tension, as with the voiced consonants, such as /b, d, g, z/). See AESTHETICS, GENDER BIAS, HYPHEN, PALATE, SEXISM, SPEECH.