difficulties with th-sound and the english R?

LaRue   Wed Jan 18, 2006 10:07 pm GMT
I just watch a MSN Entertainment video online of the Golden Globe Awards highlights. At 53 seconds into the clip, Chris Rock said, "...Martin Luther King's 'birffday'."
Dhuiran   Thu Jan 19, 2006 8:44 pm GMT
African Americans with a thick "ghetto" accent (no offense, but they refer to it as such themselves) usually don't pronounce "th" the "standard" way. Chris Rock has a relatively strong ghetto accent. I've heard "birdday" being said before.
Mxsmanic   Fri Jan 20, 2006 3:09 am GMT
Illiterates (or people who have learned to speak among illiterates) will often mispronounce a lot of words. One common mistake is to pronounce 'th' as if it were 'f.' The simple reason for this is that the two phonemes sound very similar, and someone who has never seen them in print can easily confuse them. You hear the same mistakes among small children who have not yet learned to read. After they see the words in print, they correct themselves.
Tiffany   Fri Jan 20, 2006 4:49 am GMT
What fodder for trolls -

"Wow, there must be a lot of illiterates in the world since there are so many accents and speakers of those accents all pronounce certain words differently. Illiteracy must be an English tradition."

Oh wait, there are tons of languages with dialects. We ALL must be illiterate.

And basing pronunciation on what you see in print: How do you pronounce "one"? Sound out the letters, just like the teach you in school. Looks just like "cone"!
Guest   Fri Jan 20, 2006 6:50 am GMT
>>Illiterates (or people who have learned to speak among illiterates) will often mispronounce a lot of words. One common mistake is to pronounce 'th' as if it were 'f.' <<

Not necessarily. Literate Cockneys pronounce 'th' in this manner, as do many other groups in England. Many Black Americans also share this pronunciation, but readily change between accents, choosing the appropriate one for a given environment.
Damian   Fri Jan 20, 2006 8:39 am GMT
Actually, the tendency to pronounce the "th" sound as an "f" appears to be quite common in the London area and perhaps in many places in the South of England. For instance, it's rife in Eastenders....practically everybody under the age of 85 does it in there. (Vats....sorry, that's*.... a TV soap by the way). It seems to be part of the regional street culture thing really, and perhaps can be related to level of education or social background or whatever down there in London. Maybe it's the case in other parts of England, but it's not a Scottish thing that's for sure. I fink (sorry..think) that a lot of people do it among their mates for street cred, but in more thormal (sorry...formal...I'm getting confused) situations they revert to the proper form. *The "th" sound seems to be replaced by a "v" as well in some situations in this street cred speak. As in: "Oi fink vats roit" for "I think that's right".

Strange people down there....cool though....in their way.
Louise   Tue Aug 14, 2007 12:29 am GMT
Referring back to the 'th' subject:

A few months ago a few people in my year, including myself, had french exchanges come over to England for a few days. One of my friend's exchange would pronounce words such as 'the' and 'that' as 'ze' and 'zat', yet when saying things like 'sorry' she would pronounce them with a lisp ie. as 'thorry'. Anyone know a reason for this?
Skippy   Tue Aug 14, 2007 1:25 am GMT
English speaking children often have trouble pronouncing r's and sometimes l's and pronounce them as w's. However, I have never experienced trouble with any children having difficulties pronouncing the th sounds.
Blackhawk   Tue Aug 14, 2007 1:37 am GMT
I don't believe the "ghetto accent" has anything to do with illiteracy. You can have a PhD and still speak with that kind of accent... Certain dialects tend to be stigmatized because of historical differences pertaining to social classes and/or prejudice.

If you listen carefully, there are quite a few similarities between the so-called "ghetto accent" and the Southern drawl... The next time you listen to such an accent, pay attention to the "o"s in words like "long" and "gone" and the "Confederate I", which sounds a little bit like "ah" (i.e. the first part of the dipthong gets a stronger emphasis than in the General American accent). Actually, the former came from the dialect spoken in the Deep South, but it also changed over time. One can be quite eloquent and still have a "non-standard" pronunciation, i.e. a regional dialect that deviates considerably from the one normally used in the media.

FYI, here's a definition of "illiterate" from Merriam-Webster.

1 : having little or no education; especially : unable to read or write <an illiterate population>
2 a : showing or marked by a lack of familiarity with language and literature <an illiterate magazine> b : violating approved patterns of speaking or writing

So it really depends on who you trust to "approve" those patterns... Personally, I have nothing against Southern accents of either race. To be honest, I like them a lot, and I got used to them from the blues and country songs I've been listening to.