Pronouncing TH

Jamie On   Tuesday, September 09, 2003, 16:30 GMT
<<There is not a chance of the /th/ sound dying out in Britain, the vast majority of people pronounce it properly, and most circles frown upon pronouncing it as /f/. >>

That is absolutely true. If I'd have said "I fink" in school instead of I THink, I would've been told off for speaking lazily. Even people who drop THs "know" that they are "in the wrong" and if they spoke to the Queen, for example, they would stop dropping them!

As for Spanish, it sounds like different countries looking down on each other just becasue of their accent. (How crazy is that?!) ...

Alex said this:

<<The people who crossed the Ocean and started to live in America, wanted to make a difference, like a gesture of independence of their origins. What better way than the accent. >>

That's not true, accents just change naturally over time if the speakers in 2 areas are far apart; Americans didn't just one day say let's make a gesture of independence and start talking funny, did they?
Clark   Tuesday, September 09, 2003, 16:46 GMT
This is what Noah Webster intended to do with the English language in America.

In his defence, if the world would have adopted his spelling system for the United States, the english language would have been a lot more phonetic. And then of course, Webster would have been angry because he was trying to make America unique.
Jamie On   Tuesday, September 09, 2003, 18:11 GMT
But that's spelling. It has nothing to do with actual American accents and dialectisms.
Alex   Tuesday, September 09, 2003, 18:16 GMT
Hi Jamie On.
May be my message was too vague...
There is not a Unique reason why the accent of a language suffers a variation.
It is a whole of different factors involved, like : Distance, Identity, Politics, Education,etc. I am not an expert in languages neither an anthropologist, but it is true that humans have to satisfy certain needs,like example:

* Individual Identity
* Group Identity

So my message was related to these 2 factors.
How the Americans have fun with the British accent, and backwards.
How the Mexicans have fun with the Spaniard accent, and backwards.

Do you know the common point here? Colonization.

By the way: Where are you from?

Is really the TH sound hard to pronounce?
I do not think so.

Alex   Tuesday, September 09, 2003, 18:21 GMT
Jamie On wrote:
<<As for Spanish, it sounds like different countries looking down on each other just becasue of their accent. (How crazy is that?!) ... >>

Take a look to What I found here in the forum.
About accent...

" One thing I don't like about England is the prejudice against
accents. Many countries have problem with racism, but in England you get
descriminated against if you sound different.

For example
Scouse accent: If you speak like this people think your from a very rough
area and chances are that your a thief, and something to do with hubcaps.

Posh accent: If you talk like this then your supposedly educated, and can
be trusted. Others would think your a rich person, and that your stuck up
and you went to a boarding school.

Brummie accent: If you speak like this, then chances are that people think
your stupid.

Geordie accent: For some reason, the geordie accent is more comforting to
southerners in England out of all the northern accents. Even though a
Geordie can live in just as much a rough area, than a scouser if not

Yorkshire accent: Have you ever heard the saying "Yorkshire born, yorkshire
bread, thick in the arm and thick in the head"?

Mancunian accent: A lot of people now associate mancunians a lot with
Oasis. Thinking that they all should act like them.

Cornish accent: Talk like this and people think your a farmer.

Not all people think like this obviously, but in my experience. These
stereotypes exist just because of the way a person speaks. I'm from
Liverpool and speak in a scouse accent, and when I moved to the South of
England I couldn't believe the level of descrimination against me, some
felt threatened just because I speak different, and I think this is
pathetic. I couldn't get a job for five months, until I came up with an
idea...speak in a posh accent at an interview, and I got a job within
days....and the shock on their faces when I changed my accent back to my
normal self when I got the job. :-D

Anyway, I live back in Liverpool were I'm treated normally, so you people
in the south don't have to worry about me breaking into your house, or
stealing your car. "

Is this normal?
Jamie On   Tuesday, September 09, 2003, 19:33 GMT
Yes, those stereotypes exist, but no sane person would believe them 100%.

Yes, there is a unique reason for accents to appear, it's the process of evolution. The TH to me is not hard to pronounce... I can't see how it could be to anyone if they know that you put your tongue on your top teeth and exhale.
Alex.   Tuesday, September 09, 2003, 20:30 GMT
...SI we...

Ryan   Tuesday, September 09, 2003, 21:28 GMT
In regards to Estuary English, the accent in which the /th/ sound is dropped, here are some quotes by some linguists. Argue with them. Stop arguing with me.

"I think RP will go on changing as it has in the past. Just compare the conservative RP of the 1940s and 50s with modern RP. If you dont know what I mean, listen to Celia Johnson in Brief Encounter (or indeed to Harry Enfield in some of his sketches!). EE will go on influencing younger RP speakers, but what they speak will probably still be called RP, even though it is not RP as we know it today. In other words, it is important to bear in mind my idea of a continuum : Conservative RP - Modern RP - Estuary English - Cockney." Paul Coggle, School of European Culture and Languages, University of Kent at Canterbury

"Estuary English may therefore be the result of a confluence of two social trends: an up-market movement of originally Cockney speakers, and a down-market trend towards 'ordinary' (as opposed to 'posh') speech by the middle class. There is certainly plenty of anecdotal evidence that many people these days wish to avoid the 'establishment' connotations of Received Pronunciation (p.363), and try to speak in a way which they perceive to be more down to earth. In the 1993 debate which accompanied the Sunday Times report, one leading businessman was explicit about this point. Referring to a 'public school accent' (RP) he commented: 'if you were unlucky enough to have such an accent, you would lower it. You would try to become more consumer friendly'." David Crystal, Former Professor of Linguistics, University of Reading

I could not find a direct quote from David Rosewarne from the University of Surrey on the Internet, but he was the first to coin the term "Estuary English" and propose it's spread across most of England. The evidence that RP and its representative pronuncations, including the /th/ pronunciation, are disappearing is pretty well documented by academics, not just amateur linguists like me on message boards.

mjd   Wednesday, September 10, 2003, 00:03 GMT
I'm a bit confused by a lot of this. Aside from stereotypically "lower class" accents, I generally hear a "th" sound on British speakers. Why would you say this is in decline?
Ryan   Wednesday, September 10, 2003, 16:40 GMT
Linguists are hearing more YOUNGER speakers using an Estuary accent, and they are hearing it in more places in Britain everyday. Whether it is a "fad" as somebody else suggested is debatable. I'm not sure how long the average linguistic fad lasts as I am not a linguist.

If you're an American, you could compare it with the "Valley Girl" fad in the 80s. I remember people in Michigan talking like they were from California. Of course, there are still people who talk with a "Valley Girl" accent, even if some of the phrases like "gag me with a spoon" are now passé. But I think the main reason that linguists think that Estuary English is more permanent is because of the decline in respect of the British RP accent, and the fact that more people in important speaking positions such as newscasters use Estuary English now and don't care about pronouncing sounds like /th/, just as anybody not on the East Coast in the United States does not care about the traditional pronunciation difference between Mary, merry and marry, or how people in the Western US don't care about the traditional vowel difference between "cot" and "caught."

mjd   Wednesday, September 10, 2003, 16:50 GMT

I disagree with your stance on "not caring." While I can't speak about RP, I can say that the difference here on the East Coast between Mary, merry, and marry is not a conscious decision made on my part (as a New Jerseyan with an East Coast accent), rather a result of the accent I have grown up speaking. I don't think to myself: "I have to differentiate between these words." They're different as a result of my accent.

I agree with what you said about "fads," but I don't think this is the same as a true change in accent.
Jamie On   Wednesday, September 10, 2003, 18:01 GMT
I can't be bothered to read or post on this topic, what lunatic would think that the TH sound is desappearing. Have you ever been to this country? Do you know anything about the way we actually speak here?

Antonio   Wednesday, September 10, 2003, 19:11 GMT
I disagree with the idea that ´TH´ will or rather might disappear in the future. Some people pronounce it, and some don´t.
If some younger indivis choose not to speak it, perhaps due to a ´trend´, it does not mean they haven´t learnt it, th isn´t their ´native´ pronunciation or don´t use it in their normal speech. Rather, they may be only trying to break with a model. I mean, has anybody perceived the change of speech to be some sort of attempt to draw a clear line of what makes one be ´British´, instead of american, canadian, aussie, kiwi, or even, a stereotyped English ´uh-owoh RP´??

When you get to know England you become aware that she is not as English as you firstly thought her to be!

The same way R´s may differ from one person to another, so does TH.

You have being round saying ´some/many people do the TH like F´ but many do it like T too (ie americans ).
Clark   Wednesday, September 10, 2003, 19:16 GMT
I have heard a few British people speak before, and never have I heard any of them speak without the "th" sound (except for the Cocknies and a few Scots and Irish as well).
Jim   Thursday, September 11, 2003, 03:24 GMT

What your linguists are suggesting here is that RP is changing perhaps even dying out but they aren't taking specifically about /th/ or /TH/.

How can you go about calling /th/ and /TH/ representative pronuncations of RP? Bare in mind that these sounds are by no means unique to RP.

If all RP speakers were to wake up tommorow speaking Cockney what difference do you think it would really make?

These sounds occur in most dialects of English. There's just too much pressure from outside the British Isles for the British/Irish to drop them.