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just chiming in to say the word that nobody hasn't so far: sibilants. sibilants are fricatives with a greater proportion of energy in the higher frequencies. in English, we have at least [s, ʃ, z, ʒ] for sibilant and [f, v, θ, ð ] for non-sibilant fricatives; think of sibilants as 'S-sounds', and the distinction should be clear. the important thing about ...


This question has a useful answer by Boaz Yaniv which points out that you may simply be mishearing ひ as し, but it misses the fact that some speakers actually do pronounce these the same way! This merger is mentioned briefly in The Phonology of Japanese, Labrune 2012, p.69: For certain speakers, the opposition between /h/ and /s/ is neutralized before i: ...

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