difficulties with th-sound and the english R?
Let me correct myself in that by "laziness", I am refering to the fact that it may be easier to place "d" there than "th" in quick speaking. It may also be that "th" feels unatural to them. Maybe they cannot hear that there is such a big difference?
I assure you though that most of these speakers do not want to be thought to be foreign... though of course accents belie this.
I think the problem may be akin to the rolling of the "r". I have no problem making any of the "r" sounds found on Earth in isolation. In Italian, apparently my accent is very good, but phrases with many "r"s will definitely give me away. In Italian, every "r" is rolled and when there are many "r"s in succession, I just can't seem to get my mouth to form the next letter quickly enough. I've had to train myself to say "Prima di partire" and phrases of the like, without tripping up because Italians seem to do this flawlessly. Of course I have to concentrate.
I wonder if perhaps some foreigners' inability to pronounce the "th" correctly in casual speech is related to my inability to pronounce rolling "r"s in succession.
I feel practice is the key, but I do not feel I am being lazy because I am not able to pronounce it correctly all the time. However, perhaps if I didn't continue to practice, laziness would be a factor. Do you see what I'm getting at?
>>I think most speakers of other languages I've met pronounce the "th"and "r" fine in isolation. It seems to be connecting these sounds with others that poses more a problem.
For example, my husband can pronounce all English sounds correctly. He can say words by themselves fine. However, while he may pronounce "these" for me just fine, when he is speaking the sound will be modified.
Ex: "I say these people are..." His "these" sounds closer to "dese".
It is only when he says it while concentrating that he produces the correct sound there. He's not the only one I've noticed doing this with the "th" sound.
Any explanation why foreign speakers do this? I am hesitant to attribute it to laziness, though perhaps this is a valid explanation. <<
You must remember, though, that this kind of thing is in no fashion limited to non-native speakers of English. For example, it is very regular in English dialects overall, to assimilate /sT/ and /Ts/ to [s:], and to only pronounce [sT] or [Ts] in "careful" speech. Similarly, it does seem to me that it is also very common in at least North American English dialects to assimilate word-initial /D/ to preceding consonants, even though the degrees of such and conditions in which such happen vary from dialect to dialect. For example, in my own dialect, while a distinct [D] may be pronounced in all positions in "careful" speech, in actual non-"careful" speech it will usually assimilate to all preceding coronal non-approximant consonants *completely* (except that it may use dental positions in the place of alveolar positions) and all non-approximant consonants with respect to voicing and nasality in word-initial and is very commonly stopped (if preceded by /t/ or /d/ it is almost invariably stopped even when /t/ is realized as [?]).
Even though my dialect is somewhat extreme in this regard as NAE dialects outside AAVE and some dialects of the far north of the Upper Midwest go, such very significant assimilation still appears to be common in other NAE dialects, which I have heard containing things such as having stopping of word-initial /D/ after *all* stops, and not just alveolar stops. Hence, while stopping proper outside of assimilation to stops may be relatively limited in NAE dialects, very significant assimilation of word-initial /D/ seems to be a rather widespread feature in NAE.
Note though that when I speak of stopping of word-initial /D/, it may be just as often stopped as [t] (not [t_h]) than [d], as when such is due to assimilation, the voicing of the resulting stop will usually be the same as that of the consonant being assimilated to.
The English Language "TH" sound seems to be quite difficult to pronounce by some non native learners......made more complicated by the fact that it has two distinct sound differences, as in the words "think" and "bother".
As for Estuary speakers down in England (I may be wrong but I think Cockney speakers are the same) the "TH" sound in words like "think" is an "F" and in words like "bother" it is a "V". Listen to Becks speak (that's David Beckham the footballer for those who don't know of the footballer bloke) and as he speaks his erudite words of East Lodonspeak) and watch his lips at the same time. He would say "Oi don't fink Oi will bovver wiv vis fing". (I don't think I will bother with this thing"). Posh (Victoria, his missus) lives up to her name in this respect...she would say it proper. Ooops...I mean properly.
Is the Greek "th" (Θ) pronounced the same as the English "th"? It seems to me that in Greek it sounds a bit more like "f", while in English (at least American) it sounds more like "t".
They don't want to do it because they are lazy. If they can manage a uvular fricative like the French 'r', they can handle a 'th' sound.
There are some types of speech defects that can modify the 'th' sound, but they are abnormal conditions that are present in only a minority of individuals.
>>They don't want to do it because they are lazy. If they can manage a uvular fricative like the French 'r', they can handle a 'th' sound.
There are some types of speech defects that can modify the 'th' sound, but they are abnormal conditions that are present in only a minority of individuals.<<
And do you expect your average English-speaker to just be able to pick up uvular fricatives as if it were purely trivial to do? Hell, out of practically all the sounds in standard Hochdeutsch, probably *the* one that I'm the worst at is the uvular fricative, which I generally just avoid even using, and simply replace with an alveolar approximant (which is current in some German dialects luckily), just to avoid tripping over trying to realize it. Now, if you consider the uvular fricative and the interdental fricatives to be about equal in general "hardness", do you seriously expect people who don't speak languages with /T/ or /D/ in them to be able to easily consistently realize them as [T] and [D] respectively?
I can't roll an R to save my life, and it's not because I'm lazy. It just ain't happenin'.
Pfff, hardly anyone learning a second language willingly is lazy. Of course they can produce a certain sound in ISOLATION but it's no trivial matter assimilating that sound into a dynamic environment of communication.
The uvular fricative isn't difficult to pronounce, either.
There are hardly any sounds that are difficult to pronounce, objectively speaking. Difficult sounds tend to disappear from languages, because the more difficult a sound is to pronounce (objectively), the greater the percentage of native speakers who will have trouble with it.
The sounds under discussion here may _seem_ difficult to people unfamiliar with them, but they are not intrinsically difficult. All that's required to pronounce them is motivation and an open mind.
If you can produce a sound in isolation, you can produce it in continuous speech. If you can pronounce something without an accent one time, you can do so indefinitely.
One reason students have difficulty with certain sounds is that they cannot find teachers who can accurately explain to them how to produce the sounds. It's hard to find books that give accurate descriptions as well. Native speakers aren't necessarily that helpful because they usually can't explain how they produce specific sounds, either.
The difficulty is in reproducing the newly learned sound in spontaneous speech.
<<Native speakers aren't necessarily that helpful because they usually can't explain how they produce specific sounds, either. >>
I've been noticing more and more Americans giving an "f" sound for "th" when it ends a word. I've heard some educated and relatively articulate people saying booff (both), truff (truth), Ruff (Ruth), wiff (with), maff (math), etc.
Why this be?
LaRue, I've never heard "boof", "truff", etc among Americans. That pronunciation must be particular to a very specific (and isolated) region of America.
<<LaRue, I've never heard "boof", "truff", etc among Americans. That pronunciation must be particular to a very specific (and isolated) region of America.>>
Yeah, those would definitely be very regional pronunciations.