I caught myself pronouncing the "c" in "grocery" as an "sh" sound. Is this commonplace/accepted, or is it perhaps geographic? Does this occur with "c" in other words?

As background, I was raised in Cincinnati, OH and now live in western New England.

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    It's not only acceptable, it's normal. Although the sibilant is not actually /ʃ/ (which is grooved and rounded), but an ungrooved (and unrounded) allophone [ç], like the German Ich-Laut, the final consonant in ich. – John Lawler Apr 8 '15 at 13:47
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    I've not heard it with anything but a nice clear "s" sound in my region (US Midwest). If I heard "groshery", I'd assume that person was impaired or had loose-fitting dentures in all honesty. – Kristina Lopez Apr 8 '15 at 13:52
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    Some people in my neck of the woods (southeastern Pennsylvania) say "shtreet". – TRomano Apr 8 '15 at 14:27
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    I'm from Indiana, and I've always said "groshery." I'll have to start paying attention, because I feel like everyone I know says it that way as well. – Darrick Herwehe Apr 8 '15 at 14:36
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    @John I have never, in my entire life, heard anyone pronounce grocery (or indeed any other English word except possibly Reich by one or two very posh speakers) with a [ç] sound. Most English-speakers I have known find it extremely difficult to produce that sound at all. The movement from [ç] to the typical AmE /r/ is also much greater than that from the typical AmE /ʃ/ to /r/, so it makes little sense as an assimilation. In my mouth, they're both rounded and grooved (/r/ less so)—but more importantly, they're both laminal, whereas [ç] is dorsal. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 14 '15 at 22:40

This will be a fairly common pronunciation. It is caused by the influence of the /r/ which follows afterwards. In the word /ˈɡroʊsəri/ there's a schwa between the /s/ and the /r/ - in bold in the transcription. This weak vowel can be omitted altogether. When this happens our mouths will be preparing for the forthcoming /r/ before we actually make the /s/. Our tongue has to be slightly retracted to make the /r/, and so when we make the /s/ it is further back from it's normal position. It moves towards a post-alveolar position giving it a /ʃ/-like quality. [/ʃ/, of course, is an unvoiced postalveolar ficative].

The more likely you are to use a schwa sound between the /s/ and the /r/, the less likely this will be to happen.

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I can tell you it's one of the versions mentioned (the last one)



\ˈgrōs-rē, ˈgrō-sə-rē; ˈgrōsh-rē\

by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary

I also have heard it this way in Canada.

It's also mentioned here in IPA:

(General American) IPA(key): /ˈɡɹoʊsəɹi/, /ˈɡɹoʊsɹi/, /ˈɡɹoʊʃɹi/


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Sat., Ap. 16, 2016 3:51 p.m. PDT

American English pronunciation of “grocery(ies):

In well-spoken American English, the words “grocery” and “groceries” are pronounced in two ways:

Gro-sir-re (in three syllables)

Gros-re (in two syllables).

You can hear those pronunciations over the internet in audio pronunciation websites.

Most of these give a three-syllable pronunciation of "grocery" and "groceries".

I am a native Los Angeles resident. I pronounce “grocery” and “groceries” in the two-syllable way, gros-re(s).

This is MY opinion. There is NO “sha” in the words “grocery” and “groceries”. The “c” is pronounced as a soft “c” with an “s” sound.

This is MY opinion. The pronunciation “groshary” is incorrect. I think that mis-pronunciation implies the individual has a speech impediment (a lisp or a stutter), has loose or missing teeth, is just learning to speak English, or is pronouncing those words in a patois or slang. It is not the main-stream educated American English oral form of the word. 3:51 p.m. PDT

Note that I am not trying a case in an American court in which proof by admissible evidence is required.
I do not find in American or British pronunciation guides the "sha" sound, except for one. The words "grocery" and "groceries" come from the French word "gross" and ultimately from classic and medieval Latin.

Here are links to various websites giving audio and/or phonetically spelled versions of grocery and groceries:



This Boalt Hall lawyer rests her case.

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  • "Loose teeth"! It doesn't imply any of these things, actually. You haven't presented any direct evidence that "The pronunciation “groshary” is incorrect." You referred to audio pronunciation websites, but gave no specific examples. On Forvo, there are several pronunciations of "grocery" with /ʃ/ (the "sh" sound). – herisson Apr 16 '16 at 23:05
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    -1: You can argue that the pronunciation groshry may be incorrect, but it is definitely not due to speech impediment. Surveys show that over 100 million people in the U.S. pronounce grocery with an "sh" sound. See this map. – Peter Shor Apr 17 '16 at 18:36

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