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Thread: phonetics

  1. #1
    triannen is offline Newbie
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    Unhappy phonetics

    Hello,

    I am trying to understand how phonetics alphabet works. I have quite problem about -th sound.
    There are two different symbols in the phonetics alphabet depending on the sound you make. For instance differences as in thin/these..

    If you know the pronounciation of these words (thin/these) then you can understand which symbols need to use however, if you come across with a word that you have not heard it before how can you understand which symbols of -th you need to use?

    I'd really be very happy if you can reply my questions.

    Regards,

    tria

  2. #2
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: phonetics

    Quote Originally Posted by triannen View Post
    Hello,

    I am trying to understand how phonetics alphabet works. I have quite problem about -th sound.
    There are two different symbols in the phonetics alphabet depending on the sound you make. For instance differences as in thin/these..

    If you know the pronounciation of these words (thin/these) then you can understand which symbols need to use however, if you come across with a word that you have not heard it before how can you understand which symbols of -th you need to use?

    I'd really be very happy if you can reply my questions.

    Regards,

    tria
    Generally you can't know without looking in a dictionary - which will tell you whether to use theta or eth.
    However, the common function words - the, that, this, these, those, them, they - all use the voiced eth.

  3. #3
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: phonetics

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    Generally you can't know without looking in a dictionary - which will tell you whether to use theta or eth.
    However, the common function words - the, that, this, these, those, them, they - all use the voiced eth.
    ... And just to fill out that rule of thumb, the spelling 'th' at the beginning of a word is usually (always?) [θ] for nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. For example, if you see a sentence like 'This is a thumbscrew' you can read the last word accurately even if you don't know what it means; the first phoneme is /θ/ because whatever it is it's obviously a noun.

    b

    PS And - less interestingly for ELT students - a native speaker, given a nonsense 'word' in such a context, would unthinkingly use the unvoiced sound: 'This is a thriddlypump' - /θ/
    Last edited by BobK; 28-Oct-2009 at 16:00. Reason: Added example

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