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Thread: Plural th

  1. #1
    pizza is offline Member
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    Default Plural th

    How do I pronounce a th ending word that is in plural?

    For example: swath /swɑθ/ and swaths? /swɑθz/ ?

    I ask, because, If it is /swɑθz/, I find it difficult to produce a sibilant (s sound) after a /th/ sound.

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    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Plural th

    I say /sweɪ/ and /sweɪz/. With a word like month, the plural /mʌnθs/ can be difficult to pronounce- my wife's Japanese and a very good English speaker, but she always says something like /mʌnθɪz/.

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    raindoctor is offline Member
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    Default Re: Plural th

    You don't hear voiceless th at all, unless you wanna sound foreign or sound academic. It is a fronted sibilant (fronted s, if th is voiceless; if not, fronted z).

    months = pronounce like munts

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    pizza is offline Member
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    Default Re: Plural th

    Well, I thought it was like raindoctor said, however, just trying now I realize I can do /th/ + /s~z/, but it just feels a little strange, because I am basically transitioning from one sound to the other pretty quickly. After /th/ I quickly pull in the tongue and let out a sibilant. Technically speaking it works.

    I don't remember this being a problem before, however I just recently thought about it and wanted to ask here.

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    raindoctor is offline Member
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    Default Re: Plural th

    I was not clear earlier. th + s = an allophone of s = fronted s. No more that business of clearly articulating th, which is peddled by the ignorant 'elite'!

    There is a similar phenomenon: s + th, leading to fronted z.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Plural th

    Quote Originally Posted by raindoctor View Post
    No more that business of clearly articulating th, which is peddled by the ignorant 'elite'!.
    That sort of comment is unnecessary.

    In informal conversation, I tend to say /mʌn(t)s/. If I am speaking more thoughtfully, I quite naturally say /mʌnθs/. I do not consider myself elitist when I use the second form; I like to think that I am not ignorant.
    Last edited by 5jj; 08-Sep-2011 at 14:12. Reason: typo

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    raindoctor is offline Member
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    Default Re: Plural th

    My apologies, fivejedjon. No native speaker is ignorant. However, when it comes to teaching others, they end up teaching citation form pronunciations, citation form sentences.

    Let me give a concrete example.

    When I was in India, I was looking for bus that goes to a town, spelled as "Vijayawada" in Indian English. When I asked local speakers there about its pronunciation, they gave me "citation" form. In speech (not presidential, of course), I dont hear anything closer to that citation form, because all approximants in that language get deleted in high frequency words. This is what I have in mind. Native speakers do many things, without being aware of all that go in there. When native speakers are questioned about non-citation forms, they say 'yeah, I know that; I speak in so and so contexts': I am not questioning this 'knowing'!

    To me, the elite = those who teach citation forms, making the learners content with whatever the little they have mastered. This fits well with toastmaster/presidential speeches, singing, etc.
    .
    Phonetics, phonology, rhythm, melody, etc--all these are gradient. Citation forms sit at the entrance of this gradient.
    Last edited by raindoctor; 07-Sep-2011 at 09:06.

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    pizza is offline Member
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    Default Re: Plural th

    If I retract the tongue in time before the /s/ sound comes in, it seems to work.

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    Default Re: Plural th

    Quote Originally Posted by raindoctor View Post
    My apologies, fivejedjon. No native speaker is ignorant. However, when it comes to teaching others, they end up teaching citation form pronunciations, citation form sentences.

    To me, the elite = those who teach citation forms, making the learners content with whatever the little they have mastered. This fits well with toastmaster/presidential speeches, singing, etc..
    You are over-generalising. Most of us native speakers in the TEFL world who are professional teachers teach the natural pronunciation of words.The LPD, which gives commonly accepted forms gives, as I do, /mʌnθs/ - with /mʌn(t)s/ as an alternative. the EPD gives only /mʌntθs/.

    There is no evidence for your claim: "You don't hear voiceless th at all, unless you wanna sound foreign or sound academic".

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    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Plural th

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    I say /sweɪ/ and /sweɪz/. With a word like month, the plural /mʌnθs/ can be difficult to pronounce- my wife's Japanese and a very good English speaker, but she always says something like /mʌnθɪz/.
    How do you spell the word? "Swath" or "swathe"?

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