IPA phoneme /θ/
In English, both in Received Pronunciation and in General American, the IPA phonetic symbol /θ/ corresponds to the initial consonant sound in words like "think", and "thought" and the final one in "bath" and "both".
Initial pronunciation of /θ/:
- thanks - theaterAmE - theatreBrE - theme - theory - therapy - thick - thin - thing - think - thirteen - thirst - thirty - thorough - thought - thousand - threat - three - threw - throat - through - throw - thumb - Thursday
Final pronunciation of /θ/:
- bath - beneath - birth - both - breath - death - depth - earth - faith - forth - growth - health - length - mathAmE - month - mouth - north - path - smooth - south - strength - teeth - tooth - truth - wealth - worth - youth
Middle pronunciation of /θ/:
- anything - everything - nothing - something
- athlete - author - Dorothy - Ethiopia /ˌiːθiːˈoʊpiːə/ - ethnic - healthy - hypothesis - Martha - mathematics - mathsBrE - method - monthly - strengthen - wealthy
Irregular plurals of words ending in /θ/, as /ðz/
- baths - mouths - paths - youths
Several plurals of words ending in /θ/ are pronounced as /ðz/ and also as /θs/
- oaths - truths - wreaths
/θ/ or /ð/
- booth - with
- threw - through
Anticipated pronunciation difficulties depending on L1
Preconceived ideas and other interferences from L1 obviously interfere in many cases with how students perceive - and pronounce - sounds/words in English. The following section aims to point out some of the most typical difficulties teachers and students may encounter regarding pronunciation.
Many speakers don't distinguish clearly between /θ/ and /ð/ and when they see "th" tend to pronounce it [θ], a sound which corresponds to the letter "z" in Spanish. This happens also when speaking Spanish: Madrid's inhabitants are notorious for pronouncing [ma'driθ].
Another difficulty is the tendency to pronounce the initial letter "c" as /θ/ in words like "city" and "centre".
The /θ/ sound doesn't exist, and speakers tend to replace it by /s/ or /t/. However if another phoneme must be chosen it has been suggested to use /f/, for example pronounce "think" as * instead of *.
- Geoff Lindsey, The British English vowel system, comment dated March 11, 2012 at 3:38 pm.
- Decoding exercises: "th"
- Pronunciation exercises: /θ/ vs /ð/
- Pronunciation exercises: /θ/ vs /s/