Woods wrote:According to this website:
When the letter ‘s’ is after an unvoiced or quiet consonant, it is
pronounced as a /s/. e.g., hats, tops, works, laughs, what’s, moths.
When the letter ‘s’ is after a vowel, another ‘s’, or a voiced consonant,
it is pronounced as a /z/ sound.
e.g., logs, tubes, beds, moves, clothes, was, becomes, he’s, passes.
Pronounce /s/ as ‘əz’ after the consonants /s /z/ ‘ch’ ‘sh’ ‘j’ ‘zh’ ( as in
vision)- ( in uz the ‘u’ is said very short and quickly –the schwa sound).
e.g., passes, beaches, washes, packages, noses.
How far is that true?
It's mostly correct for pluralizing nouns, contracting "is", and forming the possessive of singular and occasionally plural nouns.
But if the final vowel is a silent E, you should really ignore it when choosing between /s/, /z/ and /əz/. The important thing is the final pronounced sound, normally a consonant in the case of silent E. For example, "brake" /brejk/ pluralizes as "brakes" /brejks/, not /brejkz/.
Those rules don't account for a final S that doesn't represent plural, "is" or possession.
Woods wrote:At the moment, I'm listening to Walking In My Shoes by Depeche Mode and the singer is clearly saying "/traj wo:kiŋ in maj ʃu:s/" (even though I myself would rather pronounce it as /ʃu:z/). Is it just a British thing, or will it be almost impossible for a foreigner to get when to say /s/ and when /z/? I guess this is the single biggest issue in my pronunciation.
I don't know, but I hesitate to draw many conclusions from someone's singing pronunciation. The singer, Dave Gahan, adopts an accent that overall sounds a lot more American than his native one (Compare this interview I found).
Woods wrote:One more thing about the quote above: I'd say /'klowθs/, not /'klowθz/ (clothes) - okay, there's a vowel between th and s, but it's just in writing. Am I right?
Not in my dialect. I say /'klowðz/. I think I also say /'klowz/ for the noun (as opposed to the third-person singular of "to clothe") in fast speech. I wouldn't expect a /θ/.