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With th-sound ( English tee-aitch [tiː eɪtʃ] ) the dental fricatives , i.e. H. fricatives formed on the teeth, the English language . The expression "th-Laut" comes from the orthographic realization in modern English with the digraph ⟨th⟩. In the old English language today's ⟨th⟩ was realized by a separate letter, interchangeable Þ / þ or Ð / ð . There are two types of th sounds:

In some words, depending on the dialect, the ⟨th⟩ is sometimes pronounced as a voiced and sometimes as a voiceless dental fricative . For example, the English word with is assigned the phonetic spelling / wɪð / in the United Kingdom and both / wɪð / and / wɪθ / in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.

The ⟨th⟩ is pronounced differently in various English dialects. For the London Cockney , Estuary English , but also the dialects in the northernmost part of New Zealand ( Northland ) as well as some speakers of Afro-American English a shift to labiodental fricatives / f / and / v / is typical (e.g. bovver instead of bother , nuffin ' instead of nothing ). In other dialects, however, the th sound is replaced by alveolar plosives, i.e. / d / and / t / . This is characteristic of Afro-American English, the English dialects of the Caribbean and West Africa (Nigeria, Liberia) but also Philadelphia . Many speakers of the New York and Boston dialects, Irish, and Indian English use dental plosives (/ d̪ / and / t̪ /) for ⟨th⟩.

The th sounds have no equivalent in German . German native speakers often find it difficult to pronounce correctly and to distinguish between voiced and unvoiced variants. These tend to pronounce them similar to the German ⟨s⟩ (voiceless or voiced, i.e. / s / or / z /), which in turn is one of the most noticeable and most frequently imitated features of a German accent for English speakers.

The English language, along with Icelandic, is one of the only living Germanic languages ​​that have preserved the sounds / ð / and / θ /. There are also other languages ​​in which the sounds / ð / and / θ / occur; Modern Greek , Albanian and Spanish are among the better known in Europe .

Individual evidence

  1. Joachim Grzega (Ed.): Grammar English-German contrastive (PDF; 751 kB).
  2. Evangeline Machlin: Dialects for the Stage. Routledge, New York 2006, p. 128.