Double T sound, T sound, th sound
I'm actually a native speaker, but I had a speech impediment when I was younger in grade school. I didn't stutter, but I had trouble pronouncing all kinds of sounds. Fortunately, I got a lot of help and today most everyone can't tell I ever had a problem. However, some words I never got around to pronouncing correctly and I've gotten teased about them. I came here because it doesn't seem like there are many resources on the internet to help me out with specific issues. Any help or tips would be greatly appreciated.
Metal - I pronounce it like Meddle
Important - I pronounce it like impordant
Martin - Either I say Mar-Tin or Mardin
Button - I pronounce it like Buddon
Better - I pronounce it like Bedder
My problem is if I make the T sound, it either comes out as a crisp T that stands out too much, or it just blends in and becomes a D. Is there a way to make it half way?
I also think I slightly mispronounce the "th" sound as in "epithet" or "thumb". It just seems to come out like I have a lisp. I guess my question also for this is where do you positions you tongue when you make the "th" sound?
Last edited by sentinel1818; 19-Jan-2010 at 08:04.
Re: Double T sound, T sound, th sound
First of all, you should go see a Speech-Language Pathologist. If you feel that your difficulty with articulation is causing people to tease you, then that is a reason to intervene. I'm a student speech therapist, so I'll try to give you some help, but going to see a SLP would be best.
The way you are describing your 't' sound - 'crisp', 'blends into a 'd'' - makes it sound like you aren't aspirating. Sounds are said to be 'voiced' or 'voiceless', and sounds are classified by the way in which they are made. 't' belongs to a group of sounds called plosives. All the English plosive sounds are 'p', 'b', 't', 'd', 'k', and 'g'. Think of an explosion of air - hence plosive. Each of these sounds form a pair - 'p' and 'b'; 't' and 'd'; 'k' and 'g'. Each of the pair are pronounced at the same place - 'p' and 'b' with the lips; 't' and 'd' with the tongue just behind the teeth; 'k' and 'g' with the back of the tongue touching the top of the mouth at the back. What makes these sounds different is one is voiced, and one is voiceless. 'p', 't' and 'k' are voiceless; 'b', 'd', and 'g' are voiced. If you want to hear the difference between voiced and voiceless sounds clearly, touch your adam's apple lightly and say 'fffffffff', then, still touching, say 'vvvvvvvv'. You should feel vibration with the 'v' sound. This is voicing.
What relevance is this? Well, English voiceless plosives - 'p', 't', and 'k' - are pronounced with a puff of air. This is called 'aspiration' as I meantioned earlier. If you have no trouble saying 'p' and 'b', then try saying the word 'bin' followed by the word 'pin' with the palm of your hand held in front of your mouth. You should feel a puff of air hit your hand for 'pin' and not for 'bin'.
When you say that your 't' sound is crisp, it sounds like this puff of air is missing from your 't'. Without this puff of air, 't' can sound like 'd', especially in the middle of words like most of your troublesome words are.
I am presuming that you know where to place your tongue for the sound 't' and 'd'. If so, then just try to make the puff of air more exagerrated in the words you said you had troubke with, until it begins to sound like a 't'. When I say exagerrate the puff of air, I mean make it like the word has a 'hh' in it. So 'metal' would be 'methhal'. Not 'thh' as if it is 'thumb'. but the way you say 'h' on its own - add this 'h' to the 't' sound. I hope that makes sense!
As for 'th' sound, this sound is generally very difficult to make. The tongue tip should be between the teeth, but not too much, and not too little. Try to make the sound of a 'leaky tyre'. If your 'th' is sounding more like 's', then stick your tongue out a little but more between your teeth.
Last edited by Linguist__; 20-Jan-2010 at 00:27.
Re: Double T sound, T sound, th sound
Thank you a ton for that response. I'm from the US btw, and I see you are from Scotland (The only experience I have with how Scottish people pronounce their words is from Braveheart lol). I just tried practicing that "thh" sound in words like button for like 15 minutes and I can already tell it seems like I'm pronouncing it better, though it feels weird. You explained it really well. Sometimes it's hard to know if you are pronouncing a word correctly because you hear it differently than other people hear it.
When I was in 2nd and 3rd grade my parents set me up with a speech pathologist that I would come in for an hour or so every couple days and practice during regular school hours. I couldn't say anything right, I guess I was a mess ha. I couldn't pronounce 'r', i couldn't say the sh- sound, s- sound, l-sound, th-, all my sounds came out of the side of my mouth I remember. Then the speech pathologist showed me where the sounds were supposed to come from and we played some fun games, but even when I "graduated" from her I was still a mess, but I at least knew where the sounds were supposed to come from, and I think in a year or two's time I could pronounce most words perfectly fine. Just takes practice I guess. But I think certain sounds that are more tricky I never had someone instructing me how to pronounce those and so I never had a handle on some words all these years. And I know the words I pronounce wrong, but I just don't know how to pronounce them correctly, but that "thh" seems to be putting me on the right track. Thank you for that.
Speech is a big deal. I'm male, and believe me there's nothing worse than hanging with a group of male and female friends, and then saying a word you can't pronounce and then getting teased by a guy and having the whole group and all the girls laugh at you. It's happened more than once.
If I practice this for a couple weeks and still am having problems I'll take you up on your suggestion and try to see a speech pathologist. In the meantime I really appreciate your help and take care.
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