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    #1

    How to say eighth, seventh, and month?

    How do you transition from the t and n position to the th sound? According to the dictionary, eight is pronounced as /eɪtθ/, but it's hard to transition from the t to the th. Same for seventh and month; how does one transition from the n to the th?

  1. Piscean's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: How to say eighth, seventh, and month?

    The /t/ and /n/ sounds are not exploded. The tongue stays in the normal position for these sounds, but moves marginally away from the hard palate to allow the fricative to be produced.

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    #3

    Re: How to say eighth, seventh, and month?

    So, I gently put my tongue tip on my t/n position, then I slowly and gently lift it off the ridge so that there is space between the tongue and the ridge and there is space between the back teeth and the tongue tip. Once I created those space, I could then create the air in the th sound. Is this about right?

  2. Piscean's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: How to say eighth, seventh, and month?

    Speakers do not consciously move the tongue away from the ridge. It is the pressure of the air making its way through between the ridge and the tongue to make the fricative sound that causes the firm contact to break.

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    #5

    Re: How to say eighth, seventh, and month?

    Thanks so much. This makes a lot more sense. But this apply to the dental position of the th rather than the interdental position? Dental meaning the tongue tip is placed behind the upper teeth rather than between.

  3. Piscean's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: How to say eighth, seventh, and month?

    Although teachers frequently exaggerate the interdental position of the tongue to help learners produce the initial phonemes of this and thick, the sound can be produced with the tip pf the tongue entirely behind the top front teeth. This is where it usually is in such words as 'eighth' and ;month'.

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    #7

    Re: How to say eighth, seventh, and month?

    In the cases of seventh and month, is the n on the alveolar position or the dental position?

  4. Skrej's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: How to say eighth, seventh, and month?

    You might check out this site, it has some animations showing cutaway views of points of articulation, as well as some video clips showing the front of the mouth during sound production.

    You'll find the 'th' sounds (note that English has two different 'th' sounds, represented by // and /θ/on this page) under the 'Fricative' tab. /n/ will appear under the "Nasal" tab.

    To answer your question from #7, the /n/ is alveolar. I think you may be confused about Piscean's comments regarding dental/alveolar which were in reference to the 'th' sound, not /n/. There isn't a dental /n/, or at least not in English. You can't nasalize a sound very well with your tongue clear up between your teeth.

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    #9

    Re: How to say eighth, seventh, and month?

    Now that I think about it, I don't think 'dental" is a good choice of word. Sorry about that. By "dental" n, I mean that the n is still alveolar but is closer to the teeth and touching more of it in the case of month and seventh. I would like to keep my th sound behind my teeth rather than between the teeth, because, logically speaking, doesn't that make the transition from the n to the th faster and more efficient considering the fact that the n position is behind the teeth as well.

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    #10

    Re: How to say eighth, seventh, and month?

    I think you may be over-thinking this a bit. As Piscean mentioned earlier, these aren't conscious decision we're making as we speak. Plus, different speakers, particularly those with different variants, or even regional variants, may articulate slightly differently.

    For me, I pronounce the 'th' sound purely as dental - you can see my tongue stick out between my teeth. I don't know if you could even measure the fractional millisecond of time you might potentially save transitioning from alveolar /n/ to alveolar 'th' versus dental 'th'. I mean, you're talking maybe a millimeter or two difference between /n/ and 'th'. Alveolar isn't where the teeth enter the gum, alveolar is the ridge or bump made the roots of your teeth, where the gum rounds up into the top of the mouth (or palate). Take a look at this map - notice alveolar sounds are made around positions 4 and 5.

    My /n/ is so far back on the alveolar ridge as to be almost palatial. Still, that jump from high alveolar to dental can't be measured or noticed, at least not with extensive sound analysis!

    But still, I think it's quibbling to focus on these minutiae. Better to just practice the transition hundreds of times. Eventually it'll become so natural and fluid you won't be concentrating on where you tongue is.

    Start slow, and make a distinct, separate /n/ sound. Then slowly make your 'th' sound. Slowly alternate between the two for a couple dozen times. Gradually start picking up speed as you alternate between them until you have a seamless transition. Then practice that blend a hundred times.

    At that point, it'll be so automatic the two sounds will be almost one. While you're practicing, focus not on the tongue position or time, but just on the final sound.

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