Pronunciation of "The" before vowel sound [ee]

Miguel (ES)   Wednesday, April 28, 2004, 17:15 GMT
I learnt that "the" is pronounced [thee] before a vowel sound, but what if the vowel sound is [ee] i.e. The English book, the inspector, the inhabitant?
I know that some English speaking places, "the" sounds [e] in this situation.
What is the appropriate phonetics and why?

Thanks from Spain.
Jacob   Wednesday, April 28, 2004, 17:35 GMT
None of 'english book', 'inspector' or 'inhabitant' have an intial [ee] sound.

A more suitable example might be 'the eel'. The final vowel of 'the' is the same as the initial vowel of 'eel', and if I'm speaking carefully, I pronounce both of them, with a slight stop in between to separate the words.

If I'm not speaking carefully, the final vowel of 'the' relaxes to a schwa sound.
Willy   Thursday, April 29, 2004, 02:44 GMT
Jacob, I know you say "the" sounds dha or dhe before a vowel. It's good to have a spelling reform as a second spelling, too.
Chilli   Thursday, April 29, 2004, 10:52 GMT
I would do the [ee] sound for almost any word starting with a vowel. I find it really hard not to. What is appropriate is whatever makes you happy. I'm not sure what the RP take on it would be.

Willy, I am begging you to restrain yourself to just one thread about spelling reforms. Please? With a cherry on top?
mjd   Thursday, April 29, 2004, 19:14 GMT
Yeah, let's keep the discussion on spelling reform to one or two threads...please, with a second cherry on top.
Miguel (ES)   Thursday, April 29, 2004, 20:45 GMT
Thanks to all of you for being so helpful. But I would like to know if your answers are based on either language rules or your own intuition.
Simon   Friday, April 30, 2004, 09:47 GMT
Words beginning with vowel sounds in English are preceeded by a glottal stop (like in Dutch and German but not French) if there is no consonant immediately before (ie. from another word). However, I think there's a kind a of a Y-sound (as in 'yes') going on, which cuts the need for a glottal stop but maybe this is not universal.
Dulcinea del Toboso   Saturday, May 01, 2004, 03:32 GMT
Perhaps this is yet another difference between British English and English as spoken in the western U.S. I have lived most of my life on the U.S. west coast and rarely do I hear the [thee] pronunciation. I would say nearly everyone in this region always uses a pronunciation of [th@] (where @ = schwa) regardless of the initial letter of the next word.
Julian   Saturday, May 01, 2004, 07:33 GMT
Interesting. I too have lived in the U.S. west coast all my life (Calif) and I've always pronounced "the" as [thee] before a word beginning with a vowel sound. I thought that this was a steadfast rule. Although I do hear a lot of people who stick to the [th@] pronunciation regardless if the following word begins with a vowel. But this is usually among non-native speakers.
Joe   Saturday, May 01, 2004, 12:39 GMT
Check out the dictionary's definition of ''the'' in the pronunciation it lists ''thee'' [THi:] before a vowel and ''thuh'' [TH..] before a consonant.
Willy   Sunday, May 02, 2004, 05:21 GMT
Why are you thinking that I've made threads?

I've not.

Simply discussing about spellings.

Probably some of you are.