/str/ in Several Languages

Margo's Magical Letter Page

by Margaret Magnus
copyright 1998
all rights reserved

Since the meanings of the phonemes derive from their pronunciation, we would expect that a phoneme in another language that had a similar pronunciation to that of English would have a similar meaning. This proves quite generally to be the case. Comparing two entire phonemes in two different languages is a big task, but you can get an indication of the expected results by running an experiment on a smaller scale. I've chosen /str/, because I like that combination, particularly in Russian. It lives in strangeness (stranno), passion (strast'), exultation (vostorg), as well as building and construction (stroit').

There is straightness in /str/. Let me compare all of the base words in English starting with /s/ and containing /s//t//r/ in that order to the base words containing /s//t//r/ in Norwegian and the roots in Russian containing /s//t//r/. I do not include those in English with an iterative -er syllable (batter, smatter, hammer, etc.). I can, for example, divide the English base words into the following semantic classes.


Relevant /str/ Words
stair, star, starch, stare, stark, start, startle, starve, steer, sterile, sterling, stern, stir, store, stork, storm, story, straddle, straggle, straight, strain, strait, strand, strange, strangle, strap, straw, stray, streak, stream, street, stress, stretch, strew, strict, stride, strife, strike, string, strip, stripe, strive, strobe, stroke, stroll, strong, structure, struggle, strum, strut, stubborn

/str/ Classes

Straight - stair, steer, stork, straight, strait, strand, strap, straw, streak, stream, street, stretch, string, strip, stripe, strobe, stroke
Strong/Stern - starch, star, stark, steer (animal), sterling, stern, storm, strain, strangle, stress, stretch, strict, strike, strive, strong, structure, struggle, stubborn
Start - start, startle
Struggle - stir, storm, strain, strangle, stream, stress, stretch, strife, strike, strive, struggle, stubborn
Stop - stare, stark, starve, sterile, stern, store, strangle, strict, stubborn
Strange/Distant - star, stark, startle, storm, story, straggle, strange, strangle, stray
Stroll - steer, stir, straggle, stray, stride, stroll, strut
Stretch/Spread - star, starch, stork, straddle, straggle, strain, stretch, strew, stride, strive, struggle, strum, strut
Strike - stir, strangle, strike, stroke, strum
Exceptions - strip

The average word fits in 1.8 classes. If the word doesn't start with the /s/, you don't get a match: pastry, sister, Mister, monster, etc.. Here you can observe an interesting phenomenon.


In this small set of words, notice that there are a large number of sets of opposites. There are words for straightness, but also no small number for straggling, straying and strewing. There are words for both stopping and starting or strolling, for both strength and starvation/straggling. There is both strangeness and strictness. This phenomenon of finding opposites is very general when you build semantic classes based on sound structure.

The English words beginning with /v/ (to take an arbitrary class that's not too big) don't fit neatly in these classes:

Straight - valley?, vane?, vein, vine
Strong - very, vim, vigor, verve
Struggle - venge, vie, volley?
Stop -
Start -
Strange -
Stroll -
Stretch/Spread -
Strike -
Exceptions - vale, valley, van, vat, vase, vial, vault, vessel, vile, villain, viper, vamp, voice, vote, vouch, vow, view, veer, veil

Those words beginning with unvoiced 'th' fit a little better if they contain an /r/. 'th' is a very similar sound to /s/:

Straight - thatch?, thin, thistle, thorn, thread
Strong - thick?, thorough, thrive, throng, thunder?
Struggle - throe
Stop - thaw?, threat, thrift, throttle
Start -
Strange - thrall, thrill
Stroll -
Stretch/Spread -
Strike - thrash, thresh, thrum, thump
Exceptions - theft, thief, thing, think, thirst, thought, throb, through, throw, thrust, thud, thug, thumb, thwack

But consider the Norwegian /s//t//r/ words:


Relevant /str/ Words
start-start, starve-toil, staur-stake/stumble, steril-sterile, sterk-strong, sterre-resist, sterte-toil/tighten reigns, stirre-stare, stjerne-star, stjert-bird tail, something which sticks out, stor-big, stork-stork, storm-strong wind, storme-rage, strabas-hardships, straff-punishment, strak-straightened, straks-soon, stram-stretched/strict/strong(smell)/tight(budget), strand-shore, strang-acrid, strange-thin tree stem, strant-long thin plant/person, stratt-stalk/obstinant person, strebe-strive/stretch, strede-an narrow road/strait, streif-touch lightly/ray, streife-roam/glance at/occur to, streik-strike(workers), strek-line/unexpected action, strekke-stretch/be enough/extend, strende-wander/shove, strene-hurry/scour(an area), streng-string/stern, stress-stress, stret-toil, strev-effort, stri-struggle/fight, stri-strong (rain), strid-battle/rigorous, strie-burlap, strigle-currycomb, strikk-rubber band/shoddy, strikke-rope/knit, striks-exacting, strikt-strict, stril-person from the coast near Bergen (works hard), strime-strip, strimmel-strip (paper/land), stripe-stripe/belt, stripp-narrow band, strippe-strip(tease), strips-flogging, stritte-bristle, strofe-stanza, stroke-rowing/crew(sport), stropp-strap, strosse-place in a mine where they are exploding, struktur-structure, strunk-cask/oaf/erect, strunt-cone/nonsense, strunten-cross, strupe-choke, strut-nozzle, struts-ostrich, strutte-bulge, stryk-rapid/beating, stryke-stroke/iron/play(violin)/cancel/flunk/swish, strø-scatter, strøk-stroke/district/vein(geol), strøm-stream, strømper - stocking, strå-straw, stråle-shine/beam, styr-commotion/control, styre-steer/govern, styrt-shower, styrte-dash/plunge

One thing that might strike one reading the translations from another language is that it's a priori unclear why a Norwegian mind sees roaming, glancing and occurring to (streife) or a stalk and an obstinant person (stratt) as the same thing. Clearly Norwegians divide the world up differently than we do. Still, the same classes apply for the Norwegian /s//t//r/ as for the English.:

/str/ Classes

Straight - staur, sterte, stjert, stork, strak, stram, strand, strange, strant, strakk, strede, streif, strek, strekke, streng, strigle, strikk, strime, strimmel, stripe, stripp, stritte, strofe, stroke, stropp, strunk, strupe, strut, struts, stryke, strøk, strøm, strå, stråle, styre, styrt
Strong - sterk, sterre, sterte, stor, storm, straff, stram, strang, strakk, streng, stret, strev, stri, strid, striks, strikt, stroke, strosse, struktur, strunten, strupe, stryk, styr, styre, styrt, styrte
Start - start, straks, streife, strek, strippe, styrte
Struggle - starve, sterte, storme, strabas, strebe, streik, strene, stress, stret, strev, stri, strid, stroke
Stop - steril, sterre, stirre, straff, streik, strunk, stryke
Strange - stirre, stjerne, strek, strippe, strunt, styr
Stroll - staur, strende
Stretch/Spread - sterte, stram, strebe, strekke, strikk, stroke, strutte, strø, strøk, strømper
Strike - streif, strende, stri, strigle, strips, stroke, strupe, stryke
Exceptions - strie, stril, strunt(cone)

It may be thought that the primary reason for this correspondence is etymological. I think the reason we may be inclined to think this way is that the study of etymology is older and better established. When a word has a history in two languages, both the sounds of that word and the meanings of that word change. Etymology follows the path of these changes, and it offers general principles whereby the sounds of a language change. But it does not offer general principles whereby the meanings of a word change. The study of sound symbolism can offer answers to this. Sound change affects meaning and meaning, as we are showing, affects sound, so it's not possible to say what is the chicken and what is the egg. What we can demonstrate is that the correspondence between sound and meaning is far from arbitrary. That is, even if we can demonstrate that all of these Norwegian /s//t//r/ words have cognates pronounced with /s//t//r/ in English, we have no reason to expect that their meaning changes should be such that their meanings still - millenia later - fit nicely in these classes. Since the senses of a word can vary as much as is the case with 'stand' and thousands of other words, we would expect that meaning change over time would move words outside semantic classes such as these. The fact that they don't move outside these classes implies that their pronunciation is keeping them in place. This becomes even clearer when we consider more distant languages like Russian:


Relevant /str/ Words
vostorg - joy/rapture, vostro - be alert, vstretit' - meet, starat'sya - try, staryj - old, start - start, stvor - alignment, stereC' - watch for, sterZen' - rod, steril'nyj - steril, sterling - sterling, sternya - stubble, storoZ - guard, storona - side, stravlivat' - set on to fight, strada - hard work, stradat' - suffer, straZ - guard, strana - country, stranitsa - page, strannik - wanderer, stranno - strange, stranstvovat' - travel, strast' - passion/holiness/horror/love, straus - ostrich, strax - fear, straxovat' - insure, streZen' - stream, strekoza - dragonfly, strekotat' - buzz, strela - arrow, strelka - pointer, strel'ba - shooting, stremit'sya - rush/aspire, stremya - stirrup, stremyanka - ladder, striC' - cut hair, strogat' - to plane, strogij - stern, stroit' - build, stroj - order/line, strojnyj - slender, stroka - line (writing), strop - sling, stropilo - rafter, strofa - stanza, stroCit' - stitch/write, strug - plane/shave, struit'sya - stream, struktura - structure, struna - string, stryapat' - cook/do

The Russian /s//t//r/ words fit just as nicely into the English /s//t//r/ classes as do the Norwegian ones:

/str/ Classes

Straight - stvor, sterZen', sternya, storona, straus, streZen', strela, strelka, strel'ba, stremyanka, striC', strogat', stroit', stroi, stroinyj, stroka, strop, stropilo, strofa, stroCit', strug, struit'sya, struna
Strong/Strict - vostro, stereC', sterling, storoZ, straZ, straxovat', stremya, strogij
Start - vstretit', start, stravlivat'
Struggle - starat'sya, stravlivat', strada, stradat', stremit'sya
Stop - vostro, stereC', storoZ, straZ
Strange/Distant - vostorg, staryj, storona, strana, strannik, stranno, stranstvovat', strast', strax, straxovat', stryapat'
Stroll - strannik, stranstvovat'
Stretch/Spread - starat'sya, stremit'sya
Strike - vstretit', stravlivat', strel'ba
Exceptions - stranitsa, strekoza, strekotat'

In this case we cannot possibly attribute the match to cognates. Russian does not even belong to the same branch of Indo-European. The classes match, but the meanings of the words are quite different from the set that appears in Germanic languages. I particularly enjoy comparing the percentages of words contained in the various classes in various languages. Russian has relatively few words in the 'stretch/spread' class compared to English, but more in the strange, distant and passionate class. English is also more stopped up and strict in /str/ than Russian. When I first began these experiemts, I didn't think that relative percentages of this type were particularly significant, but now I do - you know, the by now proverbial Eskimo who has 100 words for snow. It's not just a matter of what she has to deal with, but of national character, because this principle affects every aspect of our vocabulary, not just its most practical and physically manifest members.

Now let me present what at present is a counterexample to the proposal made here. In German, the sequence of sounds /st/ cannot occur at the beginning of a word. Instead, we get 'shtr'. Still, the German words with /sh//t//r/ fit as neatly into these classes as the English, German and Russian /s//t//r/. In fact, in Texas, the sequence /str/ in English is pronounced 'shtr'.


Relevant /str/ Words
Star - glaucoma/star, Stär - ram, stark - strong, starr - stiff/motionless, starren - stare, Start - start, sterben - die, Stern - star, Sterz - plow handle/rump, Steuer - rudder/tax, stier - fixed, Stier - bull, Stirn - forehead, Storch - stork, Store - curtain, stören - interrupt/scratch, Storger - tramp, stornieren - annul, störrig - stubborn, stracks - immediately, Strafe - punishment, straffe - stretched, Strahl - beam, Strähl - comb, Strähn - lock, strakeln - stretch, stramm - tight/strong, strampeln - kick about, Strand - shore, Strang - rope, Strapaze - fatigue/toil, Straße - street, sträuben - bristle, Strauch - bush, straucheln - stumble, Strauß - bunch/ostrich, Strazze - scrapbook, Strebe - support, streben - struggle, strecken - extend, Streich - stroke, streicheln - carress, streichen - wander/rush past/rub, Streif - patrol, Streifen - stripe, Streik - strike, Streit - dispute, streng - severe/stern, streuen - strew straw, Strich - streak, Strick - rope, stricken - knit, Striegel - currycomb, Strieme - streaked, Striezel - rascal, striezen - torment, strikt - strict, Strippe - string, strippen - striptease, Strobel - mop of hair, Stroh - staw, Strolch - tramp/idler, Strom - stream, Strophe - stanza, strotzen - puffed up, Strudel - eddy/pastry, Struktur - structure, Strumpf - stocking, Strunk - trunk, struppiert - worn out, struppig - bristly, Striwwelbart - bristly beard, stur - stubborn, sturm - storm, Sturz - plunge/fail, Stürze - cover, Stürzel - stump, stürzen - hurl/ruin

/str/ Classes

Straight - starr, Sterz, Storch, straffe, Strahl, Strähl, Strähn, strakeln, stramm, Strand, Strang, Straße, sträuben, Strauch, Strauß, strecken, Streich, Streifen, streuen, Strich, Strick, stricken, Striegel, Strieme, Strippe, Strobel, Stroh, Strom, Strophe, Strunk, struppig, Striwwelbart, Sturz, Stürzel
Strong/Strict - Star, Stär, stark, stier, störrig, Strafe, stramm, sträuben, Strebe, Streif, streng, strikt, Struktur, stur, sturm
Start - Start, stracks, stürzen
Struggle - Strapaze, streben, Streik, Streit, striezen
Stop - Star, starr, starren, sterben, stier, stören, stornieren, störrig, straucheln, Streik, struppiert, stur, Sturz, stürzen
Strange/Distant - starren, Stern, streuen
Stroll - Storger, straucheln, streichen, Strolch
Stretch/Spread - straffe, strakeln, stramm, strecken, stricken, strotzen, Strumpf
Strike - stören, strampeln, Streich, streicheln, streichen
Exceptions - Steuer, Stirn, Store, Strauß (flowers), Strazze, Striezel, strippen, Strudel, Stürze

The fact that these words fit so neatly into the /s//t//r/ pattern for English shows that the picture I have outlined is not quite accurate. You would expect that /s//t//r/ could not contribute the same meaning as /sh//t//r/, and yet it does. In fact, probably the primary reason so little research has been done on sound symbolism is due to phenomena like this, in which a sound change occurs without affecting the meaning.

I am preparing Web pages about this. For now, let me just observe what we do know for future reference:

Just for fun, let me now compare /str/ in some other languages which I do not speak, but based only on the dictionary. Native speakers of these, please correct my misperceptions:


/shtr/ Classes

Straight - shtrat (bed), stroj (lay, cover, coat)
Strong - shtrëngat/ (gale, storm), shtrëngúes (coercive), strydh (press, squeeze)
Start - shtróhem (get down to)
Struggle - shtrénjtë (expensive), shtrëngat/ (gale, storm), shtrëngés/ (constraint), shtrëngúes (coercive), strydh (press, squeeze)
Stop - shtrëngés/ (constraint), shtrëng/ (tighten), strydh (press, squeeze)
Strange/Distant - shtrémbër (crooked, wrong, distorted)
Stroll -
Stretch/Spread - shtrat (bed), shtrés/ (layer, stratum), shtríhem (lie), shtri/ (lie down, expand, stretch), stroj (lay, cover, coat)
Strike -
Exceptions - struar (easy)


/str/ Classes

Straight - esteranyinador (broom), estira (stretching), estret (narrow), estria (flute, groove), estricada (long walk), estricador (pole), estricar (stretch), estríjol (curry comb), estrip (tear), estripar (gut, draw), estrofa (verse, stanza), estrompassar (stride over), estrop (strap), estruç (ostrich)
Strong - esterlí (sterling), estirada (pull, jerk, growth sprurt), estormia (cushion), estort (safe), estrall (ruin, destruction), estrangulació (strangulation), estrenu (vigorous, energetic), estrènyer (tighten up, clench), estrèpit (racket, row), estrident (strident, harsh), estructura (structure)
Start - estirada (pull, jerk, growth sprurt), estrena (first use), estròbil (pinecone)
Struggle - estira (stretching), estiracabells (anar a _, have a tussel), estòrcer (escape from), estrabisme (squinting), estrall (ruin, destruction), estrambot (burden), estrangulació (strangulation), estraperlada (smuggling), estrateg (strategy), estremiment (tremor), estrènyer (tighten up, clench), estrèpit (racket, row), estret (narrow, tight), estricar (stretch)
Stop - estar (be), estaria (stay, sojourn), estergir (stencil), estèril (sterile), esterracar (knock unconscious), estordir (stun, daze), estormia (cushion), estrangulació (strangulation), estrènyer (tighten up, clench), estrep (stirrup), estret (narrow, tight), estricte (strict), estringar (lock), estringuet (brake), estritllar-se (clear up)
Strange/Distant - estirabot (absurdity), estordit (reckless), estornell (scatterbrain), estrafer (mimic, ape), estrafet (disguised), estrafolari (outlandish), estrambòtic (eccentric), estranger (foreign), estrany (extraneous, odd), estranyar (exile), estrella (star), estremiment (tremor, shudder), estroncar (check the flow of, exhaust, run dry), estruç (ostrich)
Stroll - estòrcer (escape from), estranyar (exile), estraperlada (smuggling), estricada (long walk), estrident (strident, harsh), estrompassar (stride over)
Stretch/Spread - esternudar (sneeze), estarrufar (bristle up, stand on end), esteranyinador (broom), estira (stretching), estor (curtain), estorar (cover,carpet), estoret (fire fan), estrada (platform), estramp (free verse), estrassa (rag), estratificar (stratify), estrebar (pull out), estrènyer (tighten up, clench), estricar (stretch), estrip (tear), estrompassar (stride over)
Strike/Tear - esterracar (knock unconscious), esterrajar (scarify), estrall (ruin, destruction), estrangulació (strangulation), estrip (tear), estronxar (damage, injure), estronyar (break, smash, shatter), estropellar (damage, spoil)
Exceptions - estirp (stock, lineage, race), estragó (tarragon), estri (gear, equipment), estripall (scrap)



/str/ Classes

Straight - sterope (flash of lightning), sortheksi (deer horn), streblou (twist, strain tight), streptos (flexible, twisted pastry), strefe (spin, twist a rope, torture, stick close to something, be at large), strobeo (twist, whirl), sturax (fragrant gum, spike)
Strong - stereos (stiff, stark, firm, solid), sternon (breast, chest), sterope (flash of lightning), sterros (solid, strong, stiff, stubborn), straggalizo (strangle), straggeuomai (squezze onself, loiter), stragx (that which is squeezed out), strateusimos (servicable), strateuo (serve in the war), strategeo (be a general, command), stratos (encamped army), streblou (twist, strain tight), strefe (spin, twist a rope, torture, stick close to something, be at large), stronos (hard, rough harsh), strofnos (astringent taste), sturax (fragrant gum, spike)
Start -
Struggle - straggalizo (strangle), straggeuomai (squezze onself, loiter), stragx (that which is squeezed out), strateuo (serve in the war), stratos (encamped army), streblou (twist, strain tight), strefe (spin, twist a rope, torture, stick close to something, be at large), stronos (hard, rough harsh), stroniau (run a riot, wax wanton)
Stop - stereos (stiff, stark, firm, solid), stereo (deprive, bereave), steromai (to be wanting, to lack), sterros (solid, strong, stiff, stubborn), storennomi (shortened, calm, soothe), straggalizo (strangle), straggeuomai (squezze onself, loiter), strapto (lighten), stratos (encamped army), streblou (twist, strain tight)
Strange/Distant - strateia (expedition, campaign), streblos (twisted, crooked), stroniau (run a riot, wax wanton), strofnos (astringent taste), strofau (turn, wander about)
Stroll - straggeuomai (squezze onself, loiter), strateia (expedition, campaign), strefe (spin, twist a rope, torture, stick close to something, be at large)
Stretch/Spread - storennomi (spread clothes on a bed, spread, strew, pave a road), streblou (twist, strain tight), stroma (anything stretched out for lysing on)
Strike/Tear - stereo (deprive, bereave), sterope (flash of lightning), straggalizo (strangle), straggeuomai (squezze onself, loiter), stragx (that which is squeezed out), strefe (spin, twist a rope, torture, stick close to something, be at large), stroniau (run a riot, wax wanton)
Exceptions - strergo (love between parent and child, be content with)
There is an /str/ class of turning and whirling in Greek.


/str/ Classes

Straight - sitar (stringed instrument), sutari (heavy needle), sutr (thread, origin, source, formula)
Strong - astra (armed), satark (alert), sthir (fixed, firm, unmoving)
Start - sutr (thread, origin, source, formula)
Struggle - satrañj (chess), satru (enemy), satr (angrily)
Stop - sthir (fixed, firm, unmoving)
Strange/Distant - sitara (star, fate)
Stroll -
Stretch/Spread - astar (lining, petticoat), sitri (iron), satrañji (floor covering), sathri (small mat), star (level, grade)
Strike/Tear - ustra (razor, cheat)
Exceptions - sattar (70), sutar (carpenter, craftsman), su-tar (good occasion), stri (woman)


/str/ Classes

Straight - setrik (hair ribbon), setrip (line, stripe, slash), setrum (electric current, induce), siter (zither)
Strong - satron (be hostile toward), kesatria (noble, knight), kesturi (musk), setir (drive, wield control over), setrap (punishment), setru (enemy), setrum (electric current, induce), sitrun (citron), streng (strict), stromking (high pressure lantern)
Start - setrum (electric current, induce)
Struggle - kesut ter (frightened), seotri (quarrel, bicker), setoter (stutter), setru (enemy)
Stop - setor (deposit), streng (strict)
Strange/Distant - setrip (crazy)
Stroll -
Stretch/Spread - seterika (iron, flatten, smash), strata (levels), strimin (fabric for lining), sutera (silk)
Strike/Tear - seterika (iron, flatten, smash)
Exceptions - satru (cookie), setrop (fruit drink)


/str/ Classes

Straight - starr (tooth, tusk, jut, rough pull, fit of anger, round of boxing, sturdy), starran (projection), steotar (sugar stick), storn (straddle pin), straibeir (lash), straic (strip of cloth, stroke of a cane, state, level, pride), straille (tall, lazy aimless person), straimead (tape, streamer, heavy stroke), straip (strap), stran (prominent tooth), strapa (strap), strat (stay between masts), streaclan (band, gaiter), strearac (tree creeper), strileaman (long, nervous person), strioc (stripe, repentance), striocail (making tracks, striving), striolla (girth, girdle), strior (impulse, gust, enthusiasm, stripe), strioradan (anything hanging, limp), striopan (strip, streamer), striopar (strip, tatter), stroc (iron keel band), stropa (strope), struic (crest, ridge), strup (curved spout), strut (ostrich), sutrog (candle)
Strong - feistear (regulation, equipment), sataire (pusher, intruder), seitreac (strong, sturdy, braying, sneeze), siotrail (bellowing), sotaire (strong fellow), starr (tooth, tusk, jut, rough pull, fit of anger, round of boxing, sturdy), starramail (sturdy, resolute), starranac (troublesome, stubborn), starrog (hill, summit, obstinant female), stiuir (steering, guiding, attitude), storc (large animal or person), storfath (snort), straic (strip of cloth, stroke of a cane, state, level, pride), straimead (tape, streamer, heavy stroke), strairiun (audacity), strapaire (vigorous, well-built person), streaclac (drag, pull), strior (impulse, gust, enthusiasm, stripe), striorac (windy, rough), stro (stress, excitement, dallying, tyrrany), stroinear (overbearing, uppish), sturraide (impudent person), sturralac (sturdy)
Start -
Struggle - sataire (pusher, intruder), siotram (tantrum), starr (tooth, tusk, jut, rough pull, fit of anger, round of boxing, sturdy), starram (stutter), starramail (sturdy, resolute), starranac (troublesome, stubborn), starrog (hill, summit, obstinant female), stracail (trudging), stradain (fit of temper), straille (mat, carpet, anything confused), straimp (displeasure, huff), strainnc (grimace), strairiun (audacity), strangad (pulling, twitching), straoi (great effort), streaclac (drag, pull), strearail (climbing), streill (crying expression), strileaman (long, nervous person), strioc (stripe, repentance), striocail (making tracks, striving), striorac (windy, rough), stro (stress, excitement, dallying, tyrrany), strogadgail (struggling), stroigreamail (combative), stroinear (overbearing, uppish), strucail (negotiating, huckstering), struirim (stress, break), strus (stress, difficulty), sturraide (impudent person)
Stop - feistear (regulation, equipment), istir (in), ostar (food stores, inn-keeper), satarn (Saturday), seatar (gland, library, bookcase), sotairealta (placid), starram (stutter), starrogact (staring), startoir (historian), stioroip (stirrup), store (store, treasure), stracail (trudging), straic (strip of cloth, stroke of a cane, state, level, pride), straille (tall, lazy aimless person), strainin (colander), stran (delay), strat (stay between masts), streara (stile), striolla (girth, girdle), striomuigte (rigid, stiff in the legs), stro (stress, excitement, dallying, tyrrany), stroigin (cement), stronncugad (stiffening), struirin (weaver's glue)
Strange/Distant - astranac (wayfarer), astrolaide (soothsayer), straille (mat, carpet, anything confused), straillin (untidy, awkward), straipleac (anything unkempt), strampalaide (awkward person), strampalta (trampling, awkward), streabog (useless article), streacla (trifle), straclanac (straggling, ragged), strodaire (good for nothing), stroile (aimless person), stroiliur (careless), stroinre (stranger, vagrant), stroinrearta (foreign), strullog (clumsy female), strut (ostrich)
Stroll - astranac (wayfarer), stracail (trudging), strae (wondering, stray), strearail (climbing), striocail (making tracks, striving)
Stretch/Spread - seitreac (strong, sturdy, braying, sneeze), starrog (hill, summit, obstinant female), strabaille (prodigality), strabar (big mouth, grin), straboid (prostitute), straca (stratum, layer), straille (mat, carpet, anything confused), straoideac (waster), streannc (splash), streanncan (tune, lilt, rush of fluid), striapac (harlot), strioradan (anything hanging, limp), triorail (undressing), struic (crest, ridge)
Strike/Tear - starr (tooth, tusk, jut, rough pull, fit of anger, round of boxing, sturdy), stiuraide (hussy), straibeir (lash), straic (strip of cloth, stroke of a cane, state, level, pride), straillead (act of rending), straimead (tape, streamer, heavy stroke), strampail (stamping, striking), strampalta (trampling, awkward), striopar (strip, tatter), striudai (parts), stro (stress, excitement, dallying, tyrrany), stroc (stroke, sharp pang), stroic (tatter), struirim (stress, break)
Exceptions - iostar (entertainment, lodging), stirean (sturgeon), striog (small drop), stur (dust), sutrall (lamp)


/str/ Classes

Straight - stirta (stack), straublys (trunk, probiscus), strele (arrow), strenos (loins), strigti (stick), strykas (bow, fiddlestick), strofa (stanza), strutis (ostrich)
Strong - stropumas (diligence, industry), struktura (structure)
Start -
Struggle - striukas (short, hard time), stropumas (diligence, industry)
Stop - streikas (strike), striukas (short, hard time)
Strange/Distant - strutis (ostrich)
Stretch/Spread -
Strike/Tear - strele (arrow)
Exceptions - stirna (roe, venison), strapsnis (article), strazdana (freckle), strazdas (thrush)


/str/ Classes

Straight - estrys (ostrich), strap (strap), streip (stripe), stribed (strip), strimyn (belt), strip (strip), stryd (street), sturmant (Jew's harp)
Strong - storm (storm), strwytur (structure)
Start -
Struggle - astrus (difficult), straen (strain), strwr (noise, bustle, fuss)
Stop - starts (starch), stor (store, reserve), storfan (depot), streic (strike), stroc (stroke, seizure)
Strange/Distant - estron (foreigner), estrys (ostrich), stranc (trick), strim-stram-strellach (helter skelter)
Stretch/Spread - straegar (gossiper), strata (strata), strim-stram-strellach (helter skelter)
Strike/Tear - streic (strike)
Exceptions - starn (stern)

Other languages and the sequence /str/

Aramaic, Arabic, Armenian, Basque, Chinese, Georgian, Hawaiian, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese have almost no words containing /str/.
Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Polish, Serbian, Slovak work very much like Russian
Danish, Icelandic, Swedish work like Norwegian.
Dutch works like German.
French, Italian, Latin, Spanish work like Catalan.
Words containing /str/ in Estonian, Finnish, Hungarian, Turkish are nearly all loan words from Greek, Latin, Russian.

Margo's Magical Letter Page