This advice-column-style blog for SLPs was authored by Pam Marshalla from 2006 to 2015, the archives of which can be explored here. Use the extensive keywords list found in the right-hand column (on mobile: at the bottom of the page) to browse specific topics, or use the search feature to locate specific words or phrases throughout the entire blog.
Q: I have a 21-year-old client with above average intelligence who says “shtreet” for “street.” He also says “undershtanding” for “understanding” and “shtretch” for “stretch.” He seems to do this on purpose. Any comments?
It has been my observation that a certain segment of the population––especially those under 25 years of age––uses an “Sh” for “S” substitution in “Str” clusters. The result is “shtreet” and the other examples you have given above. Even Mrs. Obama does this.
In the 1970’s, this substitution was heard primarily in “Southern Dialect” and it was standard in what was called “Black Dialect.” Now this pattern seems to be generalizing to the broader population. With the president’s wife using it, it would seem appropriate now to call it part of Standard North American English.
In addition I hear “Chr” for “Tr” as in “Chrain” for “Train.” I also hear “Jr” for “Dr” as in “Jrum” for “Drum.” These errors, or changes, have the same dialectal history as above.
As is well known, speech and language patterns change over time. I think this is an example of that.