My sister and I have problem in pronunciation of voiced and unvoiced Th. We used to substitute unvoiced th with \s\ (like in think) and \t\ (like in thank you) and voice th with \d\

Now we are trying to use the correct pronunciation. We have watched so many online tutorials (For example this one). Here is how she pronounces these sounds:

unvoiced th

voiced th

I think her pronunciation for unvoiced th is almost correct, but her pronunciation for voiced th sounds a little like zzz. Would you please listen to these pronunciations to see if they are correct?

  • The voiceless does not use the vocal chords. The voiced does. Hers are both correct. In fact, it is not the th that is different in them. It's the vibration or not of the vocal chords.
    – Lambie
    Nov 1 '18 at 15:33
  • @Lambie Thank you, so is this how native people pronounce voiced th? The reason why I ask this, is that when I watch English movies I usually feel like actors pronounce it like \d\ (like in that or this) and I can't hear the zzz sound as in my sister's voice or even in the tutorial that I have mentioned in the post. Is it because they are talking fast?
    – Pablo
    Nov 1 '18 at 15:51
  • I think you are hearing the final t as a d in the word "that". That's because the "that" is squished together in phrases like: "The reason ||that he went|| was that " etc. "That we went" sounds like [thadhe] with a /d/.
    – Lambie
    Nov 1 '18 at 16:06
  • Both of the pronunciations are perfectly correct.
    – Void
    Aug 14 '20 at 19:10

In some dialects or accents, the voiced th (ð) is pronounced like /d/ (e.g. AAVE). But not in Standard American English, and not in Received Pronunciation.

The recording sounds unnatural because the speaker is speaking very slowly and carefully. It's not wrong, though. To me, there is a clear difference between that speaker's /ð/ and a /z/. Both consonants make a buzzing sound, as do other voiced consonants like /v/ (as in "voiced") and /ʒ/ (as in "pleasure").

Making a /z/ sound is similar to making a /ð/ in that you have to vibrate your vocal chords and force air around your tongue, whose tip should be near the front of your mouth. But with the /z/ the tip of your tongue does not touch anything, while for the /ð/, the tongue tip should touch the bottom edge of your front teeth.

  • The two voice samples do not contain an initial /d/ sound. He is referring to the final t's that are made into /d/ for the word that when speaking fast, I think.
    – Lambie
    Nov 1 '18 at 17:14

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