‘th’ Joining & Why it’s Important.
On Saturday I taught a class of 8 advanced speakers and pronouncers of English, they could all repeat both ‘th’ sounds with no problem (/θ/ as in ‘think’ and /ð/ as in ‘those’). Nearly all of the students would, however, make an error when speaking normally, and the ‘th’ sounds would be mispronounced as some kind of alveolar or dental plosive. A huge number of advanced speakers make this error, but there is a simple trick to avoid it as follows.
What’s the problem?
How to avoid a pronunciation error.
Avoiding the error is technically very simple – you simply make the previous alveolar consonant on the teeth. To demonstrate, compare the following examples:
nine /naɪn/ ninth /naɪnθ/ – the underlined ‘n’ would be dental.
blood /blʌd/ bloodthirsty /blʌdθɜ:sti/ – the underlined ‘d’ would be dental.
This also occurs when joining words together:
in /ɪn/, in the /ɪn ðə/
did /dɪd/, dɪd they /dɪd ðeɪ/
In class on Saturday we used the following sentences and looked for at least two examples of alveolar consonants becoming dental in each sentence:
- Aren’t the residents unhealthy living in that pollution?
- It’s hard to succeed in the cutthroat world of the media.
- Did the internet suffer a loss of bandwidth this morning?
- I think they should ban the wealthiest from attending.
- For the thousandth time Katie, join the leads together.
- ‘Heartthrob’ we used to call him, although he’s lost his looks now.
- Well it’s true that synthetic materials were all the rage.
- We were happy, but then her misanthropy got in the way.
- Do you think that the national anthem is appropriate?
- What the hell are you doing drinking absinth?
You can listen to the sentences here: