The spelling of /s/ is <s> or <c> initially and <s>, <ss> or <ce> medially or finally. The /ʃ/ sound is spelled <sh> or <che> in Boche.
This contrast is between two voiceless fricatives. Among native speakers the replacement of /s/ with /ʃ/ is known as a lateral lisp and is occasionally heard among adult speakers. The actor Sean Connery and the former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, are examples. In a more prominent form it can be used to caricature the speech of drunks: "Jusht one more whishkey for the road". The contrast can be a problem for EFL learners.
A common amd dangerous taboo word pair is sit/shit and its inflections.
Interesting pairs include:
The mean density is 1.1%. The set makes 98 semantic contrasts, a loading of 45%.
accomplice accomplish accomplices accomplishes ass ash asses ashes bass bash bast bashed boss Boche C she C's she's coarsen caution coarsened cautioned coarsening cautioning coarsens cautions cell shell cells shells censer censure censers censures censored censured censoring censuring cert shirt certs shirts cos cosh coshed cost crass crash crust crushed cyst schist cysts schists facers facias finis finish fist fished furnace furnish furnaces furnishes gas gash gases gashes gassed gashed gasses gashes gassing gashing gust gushed hasten Haitian hastens Haitians hast hashed hussies hushes Iris Irish joss josh lass lash lasses lashes lease leash leases leashes mass mash massed mashed masses mashes massing mashing mess mesh messed meshed messes meshes messing meshing muss mush office offish parcel partial Paris parish person Persian persons Persians plus plush posses poshes puss push pussies pushes rust rushed sack shack sacked shacked sacking shacking sacks shacks sad shad sag shag sagged shagged sagging shagging sags shags said shed sake shake sakes shakes sale shale sallow shallow sallowed shallowed sallower shallower sallowest shallowest sallowing shallowing sallows shallows Sam sham Sammy shammy same shame sandy shandy sank shank satyr shatter satyrs shatters save shave saved shaved saver shaver savers shavers saves shaves saving shaving savings shavings sawed shored sawn shorn saws shores scene sheen seal she'll sealed shield sear shear seared sheared searing shearing sears shears search shirts seesaw seashore seesaws seashores seat sheet seating sheeting seats sheets seek chic seep sheep seethe sheathe seethed sheathed seethes sheathes seething sheathing self shelf selves shelves selfish shellfish sell shell selling shelling Seoul shoal sew shew sewed shewed sewing shewing sewn shewn sews shews sift shift sifted shifted sifting shifting sifts shifts sigh shy sighed shied sighs shies sighing shying sign shine signs shines signing shining simmer shimmer simmered shimmered simmering shimmering simmers shimmers sin shin sinned shinned sins shins sinning shinning single shingle singled shingled singles shingles singling shingling singly shingly sinus shyness sip ship sipped shipped sipping shipping sips ships sire shire sires shires sit shit sat shat sits shits sitting shitting snaps schnapps sofa chauffeur sofas chauffeurs sole shoal soled shoaled soling shoaling soles shoals sock shock socked shocked socking shocking socks shocks soccer shocker sod shod sou shoe sous shoes suitor shooter suitors shooters sop shop sopped shopped sopping shopping sops shops soar shore soared shored soars shores soaring shoring sort short sorted shorted sorter shorter sorting shorting sorts shorts sot shot sots shots sour shower soured showered souring showering sours showers subtle shuttle suck shuck sucked shucked sucking shucking sucks Shucks sun shun sunned shunned sunning shunning suns shuns surly Shirley Swiss swish toss tosh tosses toshes whist wished Worksop workshop
John Higgins, Shaftesbury, January 2010.