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I'm French and the TH sound has always been hard for me. I can easily pronounce it when the TH sound is isolated but I experience difficulties when two TH sounds are very close. Eg:

I thought that it would be easier than this.

Question:

Should I pronounce the second TH sound or I can just pronounce "than dis"

If not, is they any tip or exercise to train my tongue to do this quick back and forth movement?

  • 1
    I don't anybody would alter the /ð/ on this, which is stressed but the one on unstressed than is often dropped: easier'n this. – StoneyB Feb 15 '16 at 21:19
  • There is going to be a lot of variation in pronunciation, I suspect. I personally pronounce both of the th's, though I also say it as "then this". Replacing the th with a d makes me think of mobsters... – Jason Patterson Feb 15 '16 at 21:27
  • 'Euthanize' - 'put out of one's misery' - but that's for another thread. – user31152 Mar 8 '16 at 18:48
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You should pronounce it, ideally. "Than dis" is incorrect, although people may understand you.

Basically, I wouldn't cancel travel over it, but I'd definitely practice that :).

When I say it, and I'm a native speaker so please pardon if this is easier said than done, I pronounce the two words without much break in between. My tongue moves swiftly between:

  1. TH
  2. A
  3. N
  4. TH
  5. I
  6. S

Your trouble, of course, is between steps 3 and 4. At the end of 3, my tongue is pushed up against the roof of my mouth. When I finish pronouncing that sound, I simply relax my tongue to let the air move it forward. It passes down my front teeth, and turns like magic into a 'th' sound.

Again, that might be more easily said than done, and someone else might have better ELL guidance, but that's what I do, at least for this particular N-TH transition.

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To clarify the answer, if I may: You have no doubt been using an alveolar 'n' in the word 'than': the tip of the tongue touching the alveolar ridge behind the teeth. Moving from this position to the apico-interdental position - the tip of the tongue between the teeth for the next 'th' - is tiresome. The solution is simple. Do what all native speakers do and anticipate the second 'th' by putting the tip of the tongue between the teeth for the 'n'. You will be using an acceptable allophone of 'n'. I love watching English speakers who are learning Hindi battling to say the name of the language. They get the apico-interdental 'd' but use the alveolar 'n' before it, until one of the teachers euthanizes them!

  • 1
    Euthanize??? surely not!!! – JavaLatte Mar 8 '16 at 9:22

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