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Someone cannot tell the pronunciation of "th" and "s" apart. I am sure there's a single word that can express this in the context. But I can't remember it now. Anyone can help?

  • I just posted a similar question and this one now may be more specific. I've tried to look it up in the very dictionary where I had met the word long before. – Pre7u Apr 6 '14 at 9:13
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    The only word close to this is lisp, which means to be unable to pronounce 's' and to use 'th' instead. – Peter Shor Apr 6 '14 at 12:40
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There isn't one word that refers to that particular linguistic problem, but cf. the word shibboleth:

A word or custom whose variations in pronunciation or style can be used to differentiate members of ingroups from those of outgroups. Within the mindset of the ingroup, a connotation or value judgment of correct/incorrect or superior/inferior can be ascribed to the two variants.

  • Yeah, shibboleth works here, but as you note it isn't specific to these two phonemes. Lisp referenced above and on the other post is also not specific. In Spanish, where the these pronunciation differences distinguish origin, there are the terms ceceo and seseo. – Mike Apr 6 '14 at 13:18
  • I stand corrected. Lisp evidently is specific to inability to pronounce sibalents. The word sigmatism also references this. This is a problem with articulation, however, and not perception of the sounds. – Mike Apr 6 '14 at 13:22

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