Hello there! This is the “Sounds American” channel. In this video, we’re going to talk about the American consonant sound /ʃ/, as in the word “show.” You can also hear this sound in words like “ship” – “cash” – “option” or “chef.” We’ll be using this cute phonetic symbol – /ʃ/ – for this sound. As always, let’s begin with some phonology. Take it easy, it’s not complicated :). The /ʃ/ belongs to a category of consonant sounds called the fricatives. This is the largest group of consonants in American English: it consists of nine different sounds! Take a look: So, why are they called the fricative consonants? All these sounds are made by partially blocking the air, moving through your mouth, which creates an audible friction. Speaking about the /ʃ/ consonant, – this sound is made by partially blocking the air, flowing between the blade of your tongue and the roof of your mouth. The /ʃ/ occurs in only 40% of the world’s languages, but in English, it’s found in about 8% of words. Well, it’s not the most frequent sound. But at Sounds American, we like it as much as any of the others. 🙂 So, to support this adorable consonant, let’s find out how to make it correctly. Slightly open your mouth and round your lips. You may push them out a little. Now, focus on your tongue. Arch your tongue and raise it to the roof of your mouth, but don’t touch it. Make sure there’s a small gap between them. Next, release a stream of air over your tongue. When the air flows between the blade of your tongue and the roof of your mouth, it’ll create lots of noise. Something like this: Remember, the fricatives are continuous sounds and so is the /ʃ/ consonant. Let’s try and stretch it out. Ready? Excellent. How about one more time? Here are a few typical mistakes that people make when pronouncing this sound. Some Spanish speakers confuse the /ʃ/ and the /tʃ/ sounds. As you may have already guessed, it leads to misunderstandings. Compare: Make sure that you don’t stop the air before making the /ʃ/ sound because that’s exactly how the /tʃ/ sound is made. Another problem is that some non-native English speakers replace the /ʃ/ with the /s/ consonant, especially when it occurs at the beginning of words. The /ʃ/ gets distorted when you move the tip of your of your tongue too close to your alveolar ridge. Compare: See? These are completely different words! And finally, always keep in mind the Vowel Length rule! The /ʃ/ is a voiceless consonant, so vowel sounds before the /ʃ/ are typically shorter than they are before voiced consonants. Compare the length of the /ɪ/ vowel when it’s before the voiced /ʒ/ and the voiceless /ʃ/ sounds. We talked about the Vowel Length rule in detail in one of our previous videos. Don’t forget to check the link in the Description below! OK, let’s switch from theory to practice! After all, this is the most important part of the whole lesson. This is how it works. You’ll see a word on the screen and hear its pronunciation. Like this: You’ll have a few seconds to pronounce the word. ♪ Try to go through as many words as possible. Let’s start with the /ʃ/ when it’s represented by the combination of the letters ‘sh’. Let’s pause for a second and catch our breath. Next, we’ll practice words where this sound is represented by the letters ‘ch’ and the letter ‘c’. It’s still the same /ʃ/ sound, just a different spelling. Let’s continue. Fantastic! Now let’s practice pronouncing words in which the /ʃ/ sound is represented by the letter ‘t’. By the way, don’t forget that the /ʃ/ is a continuous sound and you have to make the vowel before it short. Let’s do it. You’re done! Congratulations! You may have already noticed, but we’ll say it again. There’s no special letter for the /ʃ/ fricative in English. We know, life is hard. 🙂 which is probably why this sound is represented by a number of various letters and combinations of letters. Take a look: Most often, it’s written as the letter ‘t’, like in the word “station” or “option.” Next is the combination of letters ‘sh’, as in “she” and “wish.” Also, this sound is represented by the letter ‘c’, like in “delicious” or “ocean,” and by one or two letters ‘s’, as in “sugar” or “pressure.” Sometimes, the /ʃ/ is represented by the combination of letters ‘ch’, like in “chef” and “machine.” This may look complicated, but it’s really not. There are phonics rules for these spellings. Let us know if you’re interested! Click “Like” if you liked this video. Share this video with your friends, pets, and relatives. Don’t forget to subscribe and stay tuned on our Sounds American channel!