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    #1

    Problem with /θ/ sounds

    Hello everybody. I've had problem with /θ/ sounds. For my ears, they sound like /f/. For example, "thank" sounds like "fank", "think" like "fink". Yeah, i know how to pronounce them. But when i pronounce them, it seems /s/ not /f/. So, my "thank" sounds "sank". I dont know why.
    Please help me. Thanks in advance.

  1. Roman55's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Problem with /θ/ sounds

    You either know how to pronounce them, in which case you pronounce them correctly, or you don't.

    Firstly, /θ/ doesn't sound like /f/ and if you're making an /s/ it's your tongue that is in the wrong position.

    If you say the word 'sank' but put your tongue between your front teeth it should sound like 'thank'. Putting the tongue between the teeth or even letting it protrude slightly will certainly create the right sound but it isn't necessary to go to extremes. The /s/ in place of /θ/ is very common with French speakers. My French wife was taught to stick her tongue out a little but I would only imagine doing that if pronouncing a word very deliberately.

    Here's something you could try. Place the tip of your tongue on your lower front teeth with your mouth slightly opened. Then expel air with the same force as you would when pronouncing an /s/ (and with no vibration of the vocal chords) and simultaneously close your mouth to the point where your tongue comes in contact with the upper front teeth. The only possible sound that you should be making now is the /θ/. Once you've found the correct final postion for producing the sound, practice it by keeping the jaws parted to just the right extent and only move the tongue to the position it was in before.

    Don't settle for making /s/ or /z/ sounds, or even /f/ sounds to avoid the problem. Only people with a real impediment need to do that. The correct sound can be learnt.

    I hope this helps.

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    #3

    Re: Problem with /θ/ sounds

    I've watched Pronunciation Workshop by Paul S.Gruber, he exaggerates the word "thumb". It sounds "sssss-um" for MY EARS, I am sorry i can't explain it clearly. The bottom line is I can conclude that I do the sound /θ/ correctly according to the video.

    There are some mistakes in my first post that made you misunderstood. In my first post, what I meant is when I said "thank" it sounded like "sank" ("ssssss",the sound when we place our tongue between our teeth then blow the air through the teeth, and followed by "ank". So it seems similar to "sank" for my ears).

    Sorry for my poor English that made you thought that I pronounce /sŋk/ instead of /θŋk/.
    I hope you can understand what i am trying to convey. Correct me if I am wrong.
    And you were right, /θ/ is very different from /f/ in AmE, at least in my video I've watched. But I don't know why when I heard a British say thank, it sounds like /fŋk/.

    Thank for reading!
    Last edited by Commadela; 05-Nov-2014 at 15:11.

  2. Jill Dorchester's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Problem with /θ/ sounds

    I watch a lot of British films (I live in the US), and I've noticed that some of the actors pronounce the "th" sound as an "f" ("fank you" instead of "thank you"). So your ears aren't playing tricks on you.

    The best advice I can give regarding the proper pronunciation of the hard "th" sound as in "thumb" and "thanks" is to look in a mirror and stick the tip of your tongue out of your mouth slightly (so that it protrudes beyond your lips) and then bite down lightly on your tongue. Now say "thanks." The "-anks" part of the word will sound silly, but the "th-" at the beginning will sound more like the AmE pronunciation.

    I hope that explanation was of some assistance. For a chuckle, I'll leave you with this TV commercial for the Berlitz school, which illustrates the possible confusion that could ensue when someone uses an "sss" sound for a "th" sound (i.e. "sinking" versus "thinking", and the poor misguided German guy who thought he understood the difference..... )

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    #5

    Re: Problem with /θ/ sounds

    Quote Originally Posted by Jill Dorchester View Post
    I watch a lot of British films (I live in the US), and I've noticed that some of the actors pronounce the "th" sound as an "f" ("fank you" instead of "thank you"). So your ears aren't playing tricks on you.
    That's true of certain regions in the UK- /f/ is common in London- tin bath is Cockney rhyming slang for having a laugh. It doesn't rhyme in many areas, though.

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