IPA phoneme /θ/

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θ

thin /θɪn/

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".

/θ/ is an unvoiced consonant; its voiced counterpart is IPA phoneme /ð/. Both phonemes are consistently spelled "th". See Pronunciation exercises: "th".

Common words[edit]

Initial pronunciation of /θ/:

  • thanks - theatre - theme - thin - thing - think - thirteen - thirty - thorough - thought - thousand - threat - threw - through - throw - thumb - Thursday

Final pronunciation of /θ/:

  • bath - both - death - earth - growth - health - mathAmE - month - mouth - north - path - south - teeth - tooth - truth - worth

Middle pronunciation of /θ/:

  • anything - everything - nothing - something
  • author - Dorothy - Ethiopia /ˌiːθiːˈoʊpiːə/ - ethnic - healthy - Martha - mathematics - mathsBrE - method

Plurals[edit]

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/[edit]

  • booth - with

Homophones[edit]

  • threw - through

Anticipated pronunciation difficulties depending on L1[edit]

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.

Spanish[edit]

Spain[edit]

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".

Latin America[edit]

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/,[1] for example pronounce "think" as */fɪŋk/ instead of */sɪŋk/.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Geoff Lindsey, The British English vowel system, comment dated March 11, 2012 at 3:38 pm.

External links[edit]