I've long noticed that when it comes to pronouncing words containing an "s" sound, their are those that pronounce it softly and those that pronounce it sharply. I have always wanted to put a name to the latter condition. Does anyone know what this is called?

- While whispering in a quiet room, people that speak this way can be heard by a regular "siss siss siss" sound, as they sharply pronounce each word containing an "s" sound, audible despite attempts to be unheard.
- Words such as "issue" and "controversial" are pronounced with a sharp "sss" instead of "sh". E.g. "controverSSSial iSSSue" vs "controverSHial iSHue" (admittingly this one could be more geographic in origin).
- Elongation of sharp "s" sounds, especially at the end of words. E.g. "issuesss".

I'm certain there is a name for this. Some might call it simply being eccentric, but I suspect there is a proper linguistic term, which is what I'm interested in foremost.

1 Answer 1


Sibilance is the word you're looking for.

  • Thank you! Now I finally have a name for this almost indescribable thing :D
    – irwazr
    Jul 9, 2015 at 11:46

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