Is the "sht" sound taking over for the "st&qu
I've been noticing for the past several years, mostly from listening to people speaking on television and radio, that many Americans, especially young men, now pronounce the "st" sound as "sht".
For example, "street" has become "shtreet". "Restrictions" has become
"reshtrictions" or even "reshtrictionsh".
My first judgement when I began to hear this peculiar sound was that young men didn't want to sound silibant or effeminate and so were trying to eliminate the hissing sound of "s".
Now it seems to become so widespread that I think young men are just using it because they are hearing it from others and imitating it.
This phenomenon only occurs with /str/, not with /st/ in general. It seems to be common in some regions of North America - though not here in New England. I don't think social concerns have anything to do with it - it's just influence from the /r/, which is postalveolar or retroflex, causing backing from [s] to [ʃ]. Stephen Colbert exhibits this.
I live in the US and have never heard this, aside from someone who may have a speech impediment. That doesn't mean it doesn't occur, but if it were as widespread as you say, I would have noticed it... and it would sound odd enough that I certainly would notice it if I heard it.
Could it be that you're hearing it on a particular television show, or could you give some examples?
I hear it so often in television or radio that I have just assumed it was a general trend.
The movie star, Will Smith, uses it, I think. I also was getting the impression it was very strong among Mississippi black people. I don't know if Oprah is from Mississippi, but I'm pretty sure she does the "sht" or "shtr" thing, too.
I agree that "str" was once more likely to get the "sh" treatment, but I think the tendency is shifting to include other "st" sounds. For example, "stand up straight" becomes "shtand up shtraight".
What one earth is effeminate about the 's' sound?
At least here, the matter is this:
/s/ palatalizes as [sʲ] in certain consonant clusters, particularly /st/ (and thus /str/), /sp/ (and thus /spr/ and /spl/), /sm/, /sn/, /sl/, /sr/, /sl/, and /sw/, /ks/, /gs/, /rs/, and /ls/ (and all of the same with /z/ instead of /s/, as [zʲ], [z̥ʲ], or [sʲ] depending on other factors). Furthermore, intermediate sʲ is a bit unstable, tending to become postalveolar when next to another postalveolar immediate (such as tʃ from /t/ in /tr/), but also in some idiolects occasionally shifting of its own accord to being postalveolar. Even when it does not become postalveolar, though, it is still acoustically distinct from [s], and could possibly be mistaken for [ʃ] or [ʃʲ] by those not used to hearing it.
This occurs frequently (at least in the US) and is not the replacement of /s/ with /S/ but is rather a retroflex /st/. Another example would be "tree" and "drugs." The first is a retroflex /t/ and the second a retroflex /d/, it just sounds very similar to English "ch" and "j."
Well, depends. The matter is that what is commonly called "retroflex" in English is very commonly actually postalveolar (i.e. without any actual curving back of the tip of the tongue) rather than being truly retroflex (i.e. the tip of the tongue is actually curved *back* where it touches the roof of the mouth). And in dialects with such, I myself would expect such to actually involve true [ʃ] or [ʃʲ] rather than the retroflex [ʂ].
Just heard a man pronounce the "sp" sound as "shp". Forgot to mention that in my original post.
<<The matter is that what is commonly called "retroflex" in English is very commonly actually postalveolar (i.e. without any actual curving back of the tip of the tongue) rather than being truly retroflex (i.e. the tip of the tongue is actually curved *back* where it touches the roof of the mouth).>>
Yeah, I brought this up on a Unilang thread recently: I think English /r/ is too often called retroflex when really it's more likely to be postalveolar.
In the American South it's almost always retroflex, even those of us with fairly standardized-sounding accents. My friends in California enjoyed berating me for my pronunciation of words like "wreck" or "red" because of how I pronounced the /r\/.
My wife loves Dr. Phil, and the TV is in the same room as the computer, so I hear him sometimes. He usually says "undershtand" for "understand."
I actually at times hear shifting to [ʃ] or [ʃʲ] in /rst/ as well as /str/, on a sporadic basis in a range of different NAE dialects, as well.
Watching NBC Nightly News and heard a male reporter say "indushtry". I guess this is an example of the approaching "r" influencing the "st".
If the "sht" pronunciation of the "st" sound indicates anticipation of the approaching "r", could this be a marker of a speaker's mental pattern in speech? Maybe people who do this are forward-thinking more than other speakers.
That is, could the "sht" pronunciation be an indication of a particular physiology or psychology of a speaker and perhaps be a help in diagnosing speech problems in other populations?
I suppose speech pathologists would be the set of specialists who would be interested in this kind of thing.