pronunciation: th after ch -- catch the

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G.Determinism

Senior Member
Persian
Greetings,

Do you really really bring your tongue all the way to between your teeth to pronounce "the" in the following sentence?

"Didn't you want to catch the train?"

For me it's completely unnatural to pronounce /ð/ after /tʃ/ (placing my tongue between my teeth). I tend to pronounce "th" like a very weak /d/ here.
What do you think?

Thanks
 
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  • Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    I pronounce it as "th," with my tongue just between my teeth.

    I an see how it might feel unnatural to those whose native language doesn't normally contain this sequence of sounds.
     

    G.Determinism

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Thanks Florentia.
    But I noticed even native speakers don't vibrate their vocal chords in that situation as much as they do when the preceding sound gets along better with "th" sound or when you start your sentence with that sound.

    For example, when a sentence starts with "the" it's much easier to place the teeth between your tongue and the vibrating effect can also be easily heard.
    Do you pronounce the word "the" exactly the same in the following examples?
    "Catch the train"
    "The man"

    Thanks
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Hullo GD. When I say catch the train I'm definitely saying a form of /ð/ but it's much 'lighter' than in the man ... difficult to describe, really.
     
    I don't know whether or not, as practice, it would be helpful to artificially exaggerate the plosive nature of the final "ch"sound with much more air than normal, then, taking your time, moving your tongue up to the correct place on the teeth to get the vibrated "th" sound. Just an idea.
     

    G.Determinism

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Thanks guys for your tips.
    The thing is I can do it but it affects my speech rhythm. By doing that, I put emphasis on the word "the" which is not supposed to be emphasized.
     
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    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I also pronounce the with /ð/, but with more of the tip of my tongue behind my upper teeth. As others have said, this just comes with practice.
     

    G.Determinism

    Senior Member
    Persian
    That's exactly what I do, natkretep. Placing the tip of tonque behind the upper teeth is much easier than bringing it underneath the upper teeth after the "ch" sound. I'm baffled by the people who say they pronounce it clearly, because when I look at their mouths while their speech, I don't see their tongues come between their teeth for every "th" sound.
     

    Delvo

    Senior Member
    American English
    I suspect that I and many other native English-speakers would devoice "th" there, so ð becomes θ, which happens often when it's adjacent to other unvoiced consonants, but there's definitely no affect on place of articulation. The tongue movement just doesn't seem difficult to us.

    Part of your difficulty might be in how you think of the tongue position. I say that because of your description of the position as "all the way" between the teeth. Sticking much of your tongue out in front of the teeth isn't necessary. A lot of us just barely have the tip of the tongue touching them from behind. If I start making either ð or θ and close my teeth together, I'm not biting my tongue; my teeth only touch the tip where it's round enough that the movement of the teeth just pushes it back inside. You can even make practically the same sounds with your teeth already together, by just touching the back of them.
     

    Delvo

    Senior Member
    American English
    For me it's completely unnatural to pronounce /ð/ after /tʃ/ (placing my tongue between my teeth). I tend to pronounce "th" like a very weak /d/ here.
    I suspect that I and many other native English-speakers would devoice "th" there, so ð becomes θ, which happens often when it's adjacent to other unvoiced consonants, but there's definitely no affect on place of articulation.
    Something I didn't think of when I first posted that: when you said "like a /d/", I was thinking of the difference in tongue placement between /d/ (alveolar) and /ð/ (dental), but there's another difference between them that might be more relevant to what you're talking about: the manner of articulation, fricative (ð) and plosive (d). There is a tendency among some speakers to shorten /ð/ or /θ/ after a plosive or affricate, so that the /ð/ or /θ/ ends up like an affricate/plosive too. That version of /ð/ or /θ/ in those situations is neither wrong, nor required, nor universal among native Englishers.
     

    cando

    Senior Member
    English - British
    ð and θ are two different sounds. They were two different letters in Old English. "The" is always pronounced using ð (tongue behind teeth), so it would be strange to say 'θe' for "the" (tongue between teeth) after "catch" or at any time. Examples of words starting with "th" that are pronounced with θ are "thistle", "thorn" (which is the name of the Old English letter), "thanks", "thimble". So if I said "I try to catch thistledown in my hands", in that case I would put my tongue between my teeth straight after pronouncing /tʃ/, and it would not feel strange. It just takes a little care in articulating the tongue and lips.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    ð and θ are two different sounds. They were two different letters in Old English.
    It is true that we had two (written) letters for these sounds: the eth/edh ð and the thorne þ. However, the two letters did not systematically stand for the pronunciation /ð/ and /θ/. This is a later distinction. In most English accents, you need the /ð/ for the.
     
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