I have downloaded an IPA phonetic chart but now I have seen the letters t and k with a small letter h next to it.
I thought that the th would be the sound in the word think but on the IPA chart that sound is like a zero with a line through it.
Can anyone please explain these to me?
"th" is [ɵ]. The t and k you've seen, and p, are followed by a little h to mark a little burst of air - confusingly called 'aspiration'. If you hold a thin piece of paper (air-mail paper or tissue or a cigarrete paper) in front of your lips when you say "pin" and "spin" you'll notice that the first is aspirated*. This is hard to hear, and if you try to reproduce it you'll probably end up sounding less native-like than when you started - so don't try. We don't; it just happens.
The absence of aspiration can make a voice sound slightly different. Audrey Hepburn didn't aspirate her stop consonants, betraying her Dutch ancestry.
*If you know what I'm talking about, [ph] and [p] are allophones of the /p/ phoneme in English.
Last edited by BobK; 07-Feb-2009 at 14:49.
Reason: Fix typo