Consonants /t/ versus /ʃ/, 276 pairs     [tieshy.html]

The spelling of /t/ is usually <t> or <tt>, but we also see <ght> in bought and <th> in Thai. The /ʃ/ sound is commonly <sh> but has has many other spellings including <ch> in cloche, <sch> in borsch and <sc> in fascist, plus several arising from assimilations such as <ti> in patient, <ci> in facial or <su> in censure. Notice how the homograph tear makes pairs with share and shear.

The contrast is between a plosive and a fricative, both voiceless and fairly close together in the mouth. It is not a problem for learners.

The only taboo word pair is tag/shag.

This contrast is exploited by the name of a chain of fashion stores: Top Shop. Other interesting pairs include:

bracket brackish
fattest fascist
mitten mission
rennet Rhenish
tilling shilling
vanities vanishes

The mean density value is 1.4%. The list makes 155 semantic distinctions, a loading of 56%.

at ash 
bat bash 
  batting bashing 
bought borsch 
bracket brackish
brat brash 
cat cache 
centre censure 
  centred censured 
  centres censures 
  centring censuring 
clot cloche 
cot cosh 
crate crèche 
ditties dishes 
ditty dishy 
fatal facial 
fatten fashion 
  fattened fashioned 
  fattening fashioning 
  fattens fashions 
fattest fascist 
fit fish 
  fitting fishing 
fitter fisher 
  fitters fishers 
flat flash 
fret fresh 
gaiter geisha
  gaiters geishas
garnet garnish
GATT gash
gnat gnash
goat gauche 
got gosh 
gut gush 
  gutting gushing 
gutter gusher 
  gutters gushers 
harshly Hartley 
hart harsh 
hat hash 
hut hush 
jot Josh 
knot nosh
  knotting noshing
lat lash 
lied leash 
mart marsh 
mat mash
  matting mashing 
matter masher 
  matters mashers 
met mesh
mitten mission 
  mittens missions 
mutt mush 
Nat gnash	 
not nosh
owlet owlish
patent patient 
  patently patiently 
  patents patients 
patten passion 
  pattens passions 
plait plash
  plaiting plashing
polities polishes 
pot posh 
potter posher 
potties poshes 
punnet punish 
put push 
rat rash 
ratter rasher 
  ratters rashers 
rennet Rhenish 
rut rush 
  rutting rushing 
sat sash 
slat slash 
slot slosh 
  slotting sloshing 
slut slush 
squat squash 
  squatting squashing 
T she
  T's she's
ta shah 
tabby shabby 
tack shack 
  tacked shacked 
  tacking shacking 
  tacks shacks 
tackle shackle 
  tackled shackled 
  tackles shackles 
  tackling shackling 
tag shag 
  tagged shagged 
  tagging shagging 
  tags shags 
tail shale 
take shake 
  taken shaken 
  takes shakes 
  taking shaking 
  takings shakings 
taker shaker 
  takers shakers 
take-up shake-up 
tall shawl 
tallow shallow 
tame shame
  tamed shamed 
  tames shames 
  taming shaming 
tammy shammy 
  tammies shammies 
tank shank 
  tanks shanks 
tape shape 
  taped shaped 
  tapes shapes 
  taping shaping 
tar shah
  tars shahs 
tare share 
  tares shares 
tarred shard 
tat shat 
tatter shatter 
  tattered shattered 
  tatters shatters 
taught short 
taut short
  tauter shorter 
  tautest shortest 
  tautly shortly 
  tautness shortness 
tawse shores 
tea she
  teas she's
teak chic 
teal she'll 
tear share
  tears shares
  tearing sharing
tear shear 
  tearing sharing 
  tears shears 
tease she's
Ted shed
  Teds sheds
tee she
  tees she's
teeth sheath 
  teethed sheathed 
  teethes sheathes 
  teething sheathing 
tell shell 
  telling shelling 
  tells shells 
Terry sherry
Thai shy
  Thais shies
Thame shame
threat thresh
tide shied 
tie shy 
  ties shies 
  tying shying 
  tied shied
tilling shilling 
tin shin 	  
tine shine
  tines shines 
tingle shingle 
  tingled shingled 
  tingles shingles 
  tingling shingling 
tiny shiny 
  tinier shinier 
  tiniest shiniest 
tip ship 
  tipped shipped 
  tipping shipping 
  tips ships 
tire shire 
  tires shires 
to shoe 
to shoo
toad shewed 
toddy shoddy 
toe shw 
  toeing shwing 
  toes shows 
told shoaled 
toll shoal 
  tolling shoaling 
  tolls shoals 
  tolled shoaled
tone shown 
ton shun
  tonning shunning 
  tons shuns
too shoe
too shoo
took shook 
toots chutes 
top shop 
  topped shopped 
  topping shopping 
  tops shops 
topper shopper 
  toppers shoppers 
tor shore 
tore shore
torn shorn 
tort short
  torts shorts 
tot tosh  
tot shot
  tots shots 
tour sure 
tourist surest 
tout shout 
  touted shouted 
  touting shouting 
  touts shouts 
tow show
  tows shows
  towed showed
  towing showing
tower shower 
  towered showered 
  towering showering 
  towers showers 
tread shred 
  treading shredding 
  treads shreds 
trews shrews 
trill shrill 
  trilled shrilled 
  trilling shrilling 
  trills shrills 
trove shrove 
true shrew 
trunk shrunk 
tuck shuck 
  tucked shucked 
  tucking shucking 
  tucks shucks 
tun shun
  tuns shuns
turbot sherbet 
Turk shirk
  Turks shirks
tut shut 
  tuts shuts 
  tutting shutting 
two shoo
two shoe
  twos shoes 
Tyne shine
utter usher 
  uttered ushered 
  uttering ushering 
  utters ushers 
vanities vanishes 
watt wash 
welt Welsh 
welter welsher 
  welters welshers 
what wash
whit wish

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, February 2010.