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    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Swedish
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      • Sweden
      • Current Location:
      • Sweden

    • Join Date: May 2015
    • Posts: 1
    #1

    Questions about how to pronounce TH-sounds in the middle of a sentence

    Hello everyone, Lucas here!

    I'm a guy from Sweden that just loves speaking English. I've been doing it for a few years now, and I try my very best to become more and more fluent. It terms of vocalbulary and accent I honestly think I'm doing pretty good, but when it comes to pronunciation I sometimes fall off a bit. I have, as many before, found out that I kinda struggle with the TH-sound. See, I don't have any troubles placing my tongue between my teeth to make the TH-sound, but when I'm in a stressed situation or when I'm in the middle of a sentence, I tend to either pronounce the TH-sound very weird, or I tend to completely forget about the rules and pronounce it as an F-sound.

    For example. I have no troubles pronouncing these sentences correctly
    "This is why you should do it"
    "Why would you do this?"
    "That is amazing"
    "Three dogs went through"

    You see, either there is a gap between the TH-sounds, or it is located in the beginning of a sentence.

    I do, however, have troubles pronouncing sentences like these:
    "Then that is what you should do"
    "Take that death!"
    "He threw three balls there"

    When the TH-sounds are in the middle of a sentence or if they are very close.
    If they are very close my tongue seem to slip. I lose control of it unless I focus A LOT on not losing control of it.
    In the middle of a sentence I find it hard to place the tongue correctly, mainly because you speak faster then.

    It's a lot of things going through my mind when I speak English. First off I have to focus on the grammar, the words and the pronunciation.

    Do you lovely people have any great tips to give me? Maybe placement of your tongue etc. You know when you are playing guitar and you are trying to place your fingers in a smart way, so that your next chord won't force you to move your entire hand, but just a few fingers. I'm kinda looking for the same thing here. In Swedish the tongue moves a bit differently compared to English I guess.

    Another thing I'm looking for is how to actually pronounce the TH-sound. Sometimes I don't feel that I've got time to place my tongue between my teeth. Do you native english speakers sometimes just lightly touch the teeth with your tongue, without actually putting it between? I'm looking for a great technique for this, especially when two TH-sounds come after each other (as in Then that is what you need to do).

    To make it even more complicated, I need to add one last thing. I can actually pronounce it, but I oftenly I have to speak very slowly then. It doesn't sound right because I loose the flow of the speech. I never had that problem before, since I pronounced the TH-sound as an F-sound. But since I wanna give it a real go I'm going to sacrifice a lot.

    I really hope I wasn't much of a pain with this wall of text.

    I wish you all a great weekend!

    Sincerely,
    Lucas
    Last edited by Lucas Thörning; 07-Jun-2015 at 00:09.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
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    #2

    Re: Questions about how to pronounce TH-sounds in the middle of a sentence

    Could you record yourself saying doing this?

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • Taiwan
      • Current Location:
      • Taiwan

    • Join Date: Nov 2014
    • Posts: 149
    #3

    Re: Questions about how to pronounce TH-sounds in the middle of a sentence

    Hi Lucas,
    I suggest that you first say each of the words of the whole sentence separately, clearly and slowly 3 to 5 times and then say the whole sentence faster and faster until at natural speed.
    Tell me whether my suggestion works. Thank you.
    Last edited by TaiwanPofLee; 08-Jun-2015 at 04:53. Reason: Addition of the 2nd paragraph.

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    #4

    Re: Questions about how to pronounce TH-sounds in the middle of a sentence

    Ask and flee?

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Japanese
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      • Japan
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    • Join Date: Feb 2013
    • Posts: 45
    #5

    Re: Questions about how to pronounce TH-sounds in the middle of a sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by Lucas Thörning View Post
    Another thing I'm looking for is how to actually pronounce the TH-sound. Sometimes I don't feel that I've got time to place my tongue between my teeth. Do you native english speakers sometimes just lightly touch the teeth with your tongue, without actually putting it between? I'm looking for a great technique for this, especially when two TH-sounds come after each other (as in Then that is what you need to do).
    I’m not a teacher nor a native English speaker.

    According to “A Course in Phonetics” (Peter Ladefoged, Keith Johnson, 2011), most speakers of American English put the tongue tip between the upper and lower front teeth, but most speakers of British English have the tongue tip behind the upper front teeth (the tongue tip makes a light contact with the inner surface of the upper front teeth).

    Also, “English Phonetics and Phonology” (Peter Roach, 2009), which uses British pronunciation as its model, says:

    The dental fricatives are sometimes described as if the tongue were placed between the front teeth, and it is common for teachers to make their students do this when they are trying to teach them to make this sound. In fact, however, the tongue is normally placed behind the teeth,

  1. Roman55's Avatar
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      • Italy
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    #6

    Re: Questions about how to pronounce TH-sounds in the middle of a sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by N Senbei View Post
    but most speakers of British English have the tongue tip behind the upper front teeth (the tongue tip makes a light contact with the inner surface of the upper front teeth).
    This sounds like nonsense to me.


    I put the tip of my tongue behind my lower front teeth and the tongue comes into contact with my upper teeth as I partially close my mouth. I would suggest to Lucas that he try this, as the movement is much more economical than trying to actually put the tongue between the teeth.

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    #7

    Re: Questions about how to pronounce TH-sounds in the middle of a sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by Roman55 View Post
    This sounds like nonsense to me.
    But there seems to be some sort of evidence there.
    The following is quoted from "The Sounds of the World's Languages" (Peter Ladeforged, Ian Maddieson, 1996: 143).

    We investigated 28 native Californian college students and 28 British university students and staff speaking with a wide variety of English and Scottish accents. Nearly 90 percent of the Californian speakers produced θ as in "think" as shown in figure 5.4, with the tip of the tongue protruded between the teeth so that the turbulence is produced between the blade of the tongue and the upper incisors. Only 10 percent of the British speakers made this sound in this way; 90 percent of them used an articulation with the tip of the tongue behind the upper front teeth.

  2. Roman55's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Questions about how to pronounce TH-sounds in the middle of a sentence

    Fair enough, but I am English and I wouldn't even know how to begin to pronounce 'th' with the tip of my tongue behind the upper front teeth.

    • Member Info
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    #9

    Re: Questions about how to pronounce TH-sounds in the middle of a sentence

    It's a pity that neither the UK nor the USA has established a standard way to pronounce the 'th' sound.

    • Member Info
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    #10

    Re: Questions about how to pronounce TH-sounds in the middle of a sentence

    Has Lucus been trying out my suggestion? Where is he now? Ask and flee?

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