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 Decoding exercises: "th".

Common words

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

Plurals

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

Homophones

  • 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.

Spanish

Spain

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

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/.

References

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

See also

External links