The sound /ʃ/ is almost always spelled with more than one letter i.e. with a digraph unlike, say, /p/ which is spelled with a single letter (pan, pen, pie). I have noticed a particular pattern: vowels before digraphs are usually short and not long (or diphthongs). The /ʃ/ sound is spelled with a digraph so I assume the vowel before "sh" is usually short. Other sounds such as /p/ (shape), /t/ (hate), /k/ (make) and even /tʃ/ (aitch) can occur after /eɪ/.

Also notice that /-eɪk/ is never, in my opinion, spelled with -ck.

It may seem to be confusing spelling and pronunciation but both of them are closely related to each other. If English allows /eɪʃ/ in the end of the same syllable (or in the end of a word), then it might be possible to have a long vowel/ diphthong before the digraph "sh". However, I haven't been able to find any word in which /ʃ/ is spelled with a digraph and has a long vowel/ diphthong before it which led my to my question:

  • Does English allow /eɪʃ/ in the same syllable?
  • 2
    The Longman Pronunciation Dictionary gives /ˈfeɪʃ.ə/ for "fascia".
    – LPH
    Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 11:35
  • 1
    I must admit I'm surprised to see how many different phonetic variations fascia has in the full OED - /ˈfeɪʃ(ɪ)ə/, /ˈfeɪsɪə/, /ˈfeɪʃ(i)ə/, /ˈfaʃ(ɪ)ə/, /ˈfæʃ(i)ə/. Where I think my version is first in the list (except I don't understand (ɪ) there, and I'm not good with IPA in the first place). For me, fascia rhymes with relaxed speech I'll race you = I'll race ya. But let's not forget racial discrimination, which is on everybody's lips these days. Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 11:35
  • 4
    Yes, English does allow /eɪʃ/ in syllable-final position. If you still want /-eɪʃ/ in the same syllable, then there's seiche /seɪʃ/ and crèche /kreɪʃ/ (also /-kreʃ/). Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 11:49
  • 1
    If you want a word with an actual "sh" before the long vowel, there's naish.
    – psmears
    Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 12:23
  • 2
    "Cache" is often (mis)pronounced with the same vowel as "make", especially in computing, although most dictionaries suggest the same vowel as "cat". Hence it would qualify as an example of "eɪʃ" being possible.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Mar 31, 2021 at 13:17

1 Answer 1


I'll start by saying this is not a very answerable question.

  • For one thing, it's far from obvious that rules about what "English allows" are 100% knowable. Some sequences of sounds exist in only one or a handful of words; e.g. the Wikipedia page List of English words without rhymes gives gouge, scarce, ninth as the only words ending in the rimes /ˈ-ɛərs/, /ˈ-aʊdʒ/, /ˈ-aɪnθ/.

    This suggests that there might be many "accidental gaps" in attested sequences of sounds: sequences where it is just chance that no word, rather than one or more words, contains the sequence. I believe the existence of accidental gaps in syllable rimes is widely assumed by linguists, although people may differ in what they consider to fall in this category.

  • The other issue is that there is no perfect definition of what it means to be an English word, so you'll run into problems with deciding things like whether Kshatriya, which has an entry in Merriam-Webster with a pronunciation transcribed as starting with /kʃ/, counts as proof that "English allows" /kʃ/ at the start of a syllable, or iamb, which has an entry showing a pronunciation ending in /mb/, counts as proof that English allows /mb/ at the end of a syllable.

My view is that it makes more sense to say that English does allow /eɪʃ/ at the end of syllables than to say that it doesn't.

  • I'm an English speaker, and I don't find it difficult or particularly remarkable to pronounce a syllable ending in /eɪʃ/

  • There is a name Naish that seems to be pronounced at least sometimes with /eɪʃ/: listen to these Youglish results for Naish

  • It is found in the humorous clipping "vacaysh" from "vacation"

A comment on your description "vowels before digraphs are usually short and not long." As you point out, this is a spelling-based rule, so it isn't directly relevant to phonotactic rules, which are conceived of by linguists as rules about phonemes. In any case, there are a non-negligible amount of exceptions to this generalization, such as truth, Ruth, faith, speech.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.