Oct 19, 2009

WORD OF THE WEEK: Some Kind of Sibilance

Summary: Certain sounds in the English language naturally carry lots of sibilance (this week's word), or hissing noise. Some people struggle more often than others with this problematic speech pattern. Read more about sibilance in today's post, and read Wednesday's upcoming post for ways to correct it.

What's that sound? Is it a snake? A leaking air hose or tire?

No ... it's YOU! You're the one making that strange hissing noise, or sibilance.

It could be because you're speaking into a microphone that amplifies all of the hisses and whistles your mouth naturally makes when you pronounce words like hisses or whistles. (In case you haven't figured it out, sibilance [SIB - i - LENS] is a noun that refers to the quality of sound that's similar to a sharp 'S' or 'SH' pronunciation in English. It's derived from the Latin sibilare, meaning "to hiss, whistle; of imitative origin.")

There are times when our mouths seem to make more sibilance than usual—or for some of us, there's an ongoing problem in getting rid of sibilance when we speak.

Sibilant consonants that can cause the most problem are included in words like whisper, silk, sash, sand, and succulence. On Wednesday, we'll explore some ways you can help alleviate this problematic speech pattern if it's one with which you regularly—or even sometimes—struggle. Stay tuned!

© KiKi Productions, Inc. 2009

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