Word of the day – šišlat

The word šišlat is Czech and is usually translated as to lisp. However it refers to a form of speech impediment that involves substituting s /s/ sounds with sh /ʃ/ sounds. For example, slimák (slug) is pronounced šlimák. This isn’t quite the same as a lisp in English, which usually involves replacing s /s/ sounds with th /θ/ sounds.

Can you think of a good English version of šišlat?

I’ve come up with “to shish”.

19 thoughts on “Word of the day – šišlat

  1. To outsiders, it may seem that many Spaniards lisp. On top of that, I would say that many of them also shish. At least in Castille. Except of course that the lisp provides phonemic distinction, and the shish doesn’t.

    Definitely a useful term.

  2. I wonder if this is the same as changing the “S” to “TH” sometimes and the “R” to any other sound, specially to “L.”

    My father was like that. He couldn’t say “R” sound, but changed it to heavy “L.” For this reason sometimes we look at french as a weird language since the R is turned into GH sound which is one of the many forms of transformation in this sound here. Of course this transformation is due to some disability in the tongue.

  3. I have noticed the Japanese seem to shish with the kana ‘shi’ /し/ and /シ/ in their syllabary while the other sa /さ/ su /す/ se /せ/ so /そ/ kana are the basic s /s/ sound. Would the kana ‘shi’ really be a ‘shish’ed mora?

  4. Great word! The Czech šišlat reminds me of the Hebrew שיבולת (“shibboleth”) — cf. The Bible, Judges Chapter 12. There, the same distinction between /s/ and /ʃ/ was used to identify members of rival tribal groups. For anyone who couldn’t pronounce the shin (ש) properly, the consequences were dire.

  5. In terms of linguistics however, lisping is a rather broad term and includes both s => th as well as the “shish” (nice word BTW) s => sh among others.

  6. In Russian there is also a verb shepeliavitj which means ‘to pronounce SH instead of S’.

  7. In Dutch ithis phenomena is called “slissen” or “lispelen” so, since “to lisp” is not your choice it might become “to slis”…

  8. In Gaelic a lisp is apparently ‘liot’, though I can’t remember the last time I hear someone say that. (To my shame I had to look it up in a dictionary!)

    The funny thing with the word ‘lisp’ is that if you have one, you cannot pronounce it! My question is, did the word ‘lisp’ arise as a kind of English-language shibboleth?

  9. In Welsh some people, especially in the North for some reason, pronounce ‘r’ which is trilled in Welsh in a more gluttoral/French way which is ‘incorrect’. This is called ‘erian’. People who do this will try and make sure if they have a child they don’t call him Rhys, Rhidian, Eirian, Arwyn or any other name with an ‘r’ in it.

  10. In Polish there are such terms as: seplenienie ‘lisp’ and szeplenienie ‘substituting postalveolars for dentals’ (though the latter is much less common and less widely known). A similar word is szadzenie which denotes the substituting postalveolars for dentals as a kind of hipercorrection rather than a speech impediment (because certain dialects shifted postalveolars to dentals, some people from those environments tried to sound ‘correct’ by replacing all dentals with postalveolars)..

  11. I don’t understand: does the impediment consist in substituting s sounds for sh sounds? or the reverse, substituting sh sounds for s sounds? The example you gave seems to fit the latter description.

  12. This may not have been the best example, because in Polish, the word is in fact pronounced with a “SH” sound (ślimak). A person with such a pronunciation may simply come from an area that was influenced by Polish language, or a dialect that evolved in the same direction (or maybe failed to evolve to the pure “S” pronunciation).

  13. Šišlání (noun) is only common for children. Not for an adult. It always disappear in time.

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