"TH" vs. "F"

Marcelo   Sunday, July 20, 2003, 23:29 GMT
Every time I hear english native speakers talking I notice sometimes they pronounce the "th" (like in 'thing', 'think', 'with') as if a "f". I thought it was just because of my poor listening skills and because "th" can really be very similar to "f", but in Internet chat rooms, where people tend to talk more informally and allow themselves to write the way they would speak, i see expressions like 'wif' for 'with', 'fanks' for 'thanks'. Is it correct to do it deliberately?
I guess it can be done in setences when 'f' is easier to link with the first letter of the next word like in:

'I went to the party with some friends.'

is it right?
Ryan   Monday, July 21, 2003, 01:39 GMT
That would be part Estuary English, an accent derived from London Cockney. It is now spoken throughout most of Southeast England and seems to be spreading to all areas of England where people don't dislike Londoners.

No American English speaker does this. I don't know about Australians. The US tends to still pronounce the "th" as an unvoiced fricative, although in certain urban accents the "th" becomes a "d," such as the urban Chicago accent when they talk about "da Bears" or "da Bulls" (sports teams).

Juan   Monday, July 21, 2003, 02:41 GMT
Is there a difference between the phonetic sound in lea[th]er and la[dd]er. I pronounce the "d" sound the same. Is there suppose to be a difference?
To Juan   Monday, July 21, 2003, 05:01 GMT
Yes they are different.

If you pronounced Ladder with [th] you would be saying the word


If you pronounced Leather with [dd] you end up with


which to me sounds like bad slang for someone trying to pronounce:


hope this helps
Clark   Monday, July 21, 2003, 05:29 GMT
The Cockney accent generally replaces "th" as in "thin" with an "f," and replaces "th" as in "the" with a "v."

Marcelo, you must here only Cockneys then, because a majority of English-speakers do not turn "th" into "f."
Julian   Monday, July 21, 2003, 06:16 GMT
In African American Vernacular English (AAVE), otherwise known as Ebonics, the unvoiced "th" is often pronounced as "f", so that words like "nothing" or "author" sound like "nufn" and "ahfuh". Words ending with "th" are also pronounced as "f", so "Ruth" and "south" become "Ruf" and "souf".

However, if "th" is preceded by a nasal consonant (e.g. "n" or "m"), then it is pronounced as "t", e.g. "month" becomes "mont", "tenth" becomes "tent".

This phenomenon is definitely not something I would do deliberately, unless you want to sound "street" or uneducated.
To Juan   Monday, July 21, 2003, 06:32 GMT
"Leather" doesn't have a "d" sound, it has a "th" sound. Also, the vowel sound is an "e" as in "bed". "Ladder" as an "æ" vowel sound, like "cat".
Ryan   Monday, July 21, 2003, 11:36 GMT
The 'th' sound in leather is a voiced fricative, while the 'th' sound in a word like "nothing" is unvoiced. I made a mistake before when I included the word "the" in the same category as the word "nothing," as "the" is obviously a voiced fricative. That is why cockneys replace them with different sounds as Clark mentioned before.

The difference between voiced and unvoiced fricatives, for those who haven't heard the terms, is that the sound focus is deeper in the throat and more 'd' sounding more a voiced fricative, while the unvoiced is focused more to the front of the mouth. Also, the tongue has to be placed more in-between the teeth to do an unvoiced fricative. It's just something you have to hear on tape as it is hard to explain in writing.

Julian, you are right that African-Americans do the 'f' sound as well sometimes but I don't think it is as strong of a sound as when Cockneys do it.

Juan   Tuesday, July 22, 2003, 02:00 GMT
Ok, thank you to everyone for stating the difference to me. But for me the d sound in "[th]at" and "or[d]er" sound very much alike only that the d sound in "that" is much stronger then where there is a proper "d". I dont know, I speak Spanish and there is only d sound in our language and that is why I have this difficulty. It is also interesting that some the "th" combination has a different sound such in "[th]ink" and "[th]rough". Why not pronounce it sort of like "dink" and "drough" instead?
Mandy Q.   Tuesday, July 22, 2003, 03:31 GMT
>>Julian, you are right that African-Americans do the 'f' sound as well sometimes but I don't think it is as strong of a sound as when Cockneys do it.<<
Not all African-Americans speak ebonics (especially my English teacher) So, hopefully, you didn't mean to generalize what you said. In my neck of the woods, not only African-Americans sound like ebonics speakers or speak ebonics . It's kind of like saying that Mexicans have Mexican/Spanish accents when some don't even know Spanish. (Like me, sadly. I'm taking classes to re-learn it next semester.)
I won't get into much of that now 'cause I'm a newbie. (And I'm a nitpicker. Sorry.)

Bye...**Stepping away, stepping away...**
HiyaKiani   Tuesday, July 22, 2003, 04:12 GMT
I agree, Mandy.

You know, I think ebonics is funny to hear cause some of the popular comedians at school speak it all the time and have interesting things to say all the time. I'm always laughing at school. One was my ex who was one of the Valedictorians (with a 4.25 gpa a last year, c/o 2002) who now goes to UC Berkeley. (That threw me off with the way he spoke and all. Wierd.)

More unimportant stuff... ignore me.
Tremmert   Tuesday, July 22, 2003, 20:12 GMT
From my experience (I'm not phonetics expert...) 'd' is with the tip of your tongue touching the pallette just before your top teeth, and 'th' is with your tongue under your front teeth, and it doesn't stop the air as completely as a 'd'.
Ryan   Tuesday, July 22, 2003, 23:58 GMT
Of course not, Mandy. Not all African-American people speak Ebonics. Some white, Hispanic and even Asian people speak ebonics if they grew up in certain African-American neighborhoods in the inner city.

Guofei Ma   Wednesday, July 23, 2003, 01:51 GMT
I never heard anyone speak Ebonics in the area in which my school is located- a district in the Silicon Valley where chaps of African descent account for less than 1% of the population. On the contrary, I hear Chinese and Indian accents every day.
Julian   Wednesday, July 23, 2003, 03:07 GMT
I was waiting for the train the other day (the MTA subway here in L.A.), and this group of African-American passed by. This one young lady's dialogue went something like this:

"...so he be like, 'Baby, you knows I love you.' and I be like, 'NO! Don't play me like that! So he sez to me..."

I was floored. I thought to myself, "I hope to God that's just the way you speak among friends, 'cause that is just AWFUL."