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in Voice, Piano, Guitar & the Fundamentals of Music

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Connecticut Shoreline Studio for Music Lessons
in Voice, Piano, Guitar & the Fundamentals of Music

Clef Notes

Learn How to Pronounce “STR” Consonant Combos

Str vs. Shtr

This may be my last rant in my series of rants about agita-inducing pronunciation idiosyncrasies in singing, but I’m not promising anything. So reader beware!

For those of you needing to catch up, my  last couple of turgid and riveting posts were entitled “I Can Tell You Are From Connecticut” and “Glottal Stop Management.” Go ahead and read them; we’ll wait.

Here we go. The third way people from all over the country are lazy in speaking occurs  whenever the consonant combination “str” shows up in a word. It comes out more like “shtr.” I think it’s because a person is preparing for that “r” sound while he or she is saying the “s” sound. 

Say an “s” sound by hissing. Then very slowly move to the “r” sound, and notice how you have to move through an “sh” sound to get there. It’s easier to move to an “r” sound if you’re already on the “sh” sound. It’s almost like saying the word “sure.”

Say the word “stir.” Now say “shtir.” Notice how it’s a little easier to get to the “r” sound.

Here’s a demonstration:

I have been brooding on this topic for several weeks while thinking about composing this post, so my radar has been extra sensitive while listening to newscasters and podcasters. I knew about the more common words like:

  • street
  • strong

While listening over the past week, however, I’ve noticed it happens in the middle of words like:

  • restaurant
  • yesterday

And then I almost fell out of my chair when a guy on a CNET podcast said, “ashtronaut.” ASHTRONAUT?! Come on, people!! Omg.

Here is me saying all of these words:

  1. First, the lazy way 
  2. Second, the way the dictionary says you’re supposed to pronounce them

Now, I want you to all practice saying the following sentence:

The strong astronauts strutted down the street to the restaurant yesterday and played a bunch of stringed instruments.

Do any of you have pronunciation pet peeves you’d like to share? Add them in the comments below.

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