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Th- fronting

From Teflpedia

Th-fronting involves the pronunciation of the dental fricatives /θ/ and /ð/ as labiodental fricatives /f/ or /v/, (so "thought" sounds like “fought") and mother sounds /'mʌvə(r)/.[1] This is found in some native accents, and may also be used by learners.

It is a characteristic feature of London speech, particularly Cockney, i.e. what could be considered working-class speech, but also extends into much of South East England and, due to the influence of TV, as far afield as Glasgow.[2]

/f/ and /v/ is generally understood by native English speakers. It may also be a good idea for English language learners to be aware of this for listening purposes.

As for speaking, most TEFL teachers encourage students towards the standard pronunciation of ⟨th⟩ as dental fricatives, while acknowledging the high difficulty level for many students. This is therefore, at worst, mispronunciation or at best a non-standard variant pronunciation. Obviously error correction should be focused on priorities, and depending on context, this may or may not be considered a priority for correction to the standard pronunciation. Notably, an English language learner may learn this from peers if they are learning English within a community where it is prevalent (e.g. they are studying in London). Exercise your judgment - it’s what you’re getting paid for.

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