Episode Transcript

Hey, it’s Hadar, and this is The Accent’s Way, your way to finding clarity, confidence, and freedom in English. And today we’re going to talk about TH transitions.

Now, the TH sound is not a very common sound in most languages. In fact, most speakers work really hard not to stick their tongues out when they speak, and here you’re required not only to take the tongue out, but also to keep it there as you pronounce the TH.

Now, I find that the most difficult thing about the sound is pronouncing it right after or right before a close consonant, especially tip of the tongue consonant.

Tip of the tongue consonants are sounds that are produced with the tip of the tongue. For example, T. D, N, and L. So the tongue goes up and touches right behind the teeth on that little bridge inside your mouth. T, try it, D, N, L.  And also, S and Z. Now when these consonants, these six constants appear right before or right after a TH, the transition may be a bit challenging.

So what I’m going to do today is give you a few tips on how to make these transitions smooth and clear, and also a practice that you can do daily to improve speech and clarity.

Alright, so let’s begin with a transition from the N to the TH, as in “in the” or “month”. All right. So basically to produce the end sound, the tongue goes up and touches right behind the teeth, right, ‘in’. And then you’re supposed to push your tongue out for the TH – ‘the’. But you have to work hard to push the tongue out and to make sure that it comes out, right? ‘in the’.

So here’s a little tip. Cheat. And instead of placing the tongue behind the teeth, just place it on the teeth, ‘in’. Now, the sound doesn’t change, right? ‘in’ – ‘in’. But then my tongue is already out there, ready for the ‘th’:  ‘in the’. Alright? So you see the tongue goes up, touches the teeth, ‘in’, and then I’m relaxing the tongue, allowing the air to pass to create the TH sound. ‘in the’, ‘on the’, ‘on this’, ‘on that’, ‘win things’. All right.

Let’s take another example, the T. If I say the T and right after the TH, ‘at the’, alright, I have this space: ‘at_the’, I break between the two words. I don’t want that. So let’s produce the T on the teeth: ‘at’, you see the tongue goes up, ‘at the’, and then I relax it for the TH. ‘at the’. Or ‘eighth’, ‘eighth’, you don’t have to pronounce it as ‘eight-th’, right, we don’t want to have that break. It’s one sound, ‘eighth’. ‘At this’.

Let’s  try the D: ‘d-th’, ‘d-th’, alright. So the tongue is already on the teeth for the D: ‘d-th’ as in “width”, or “good thing”, “good thing”. All right? So we always connect words together. So whenever a word ends with a D and the next word begins with a TH, then this transition is present, right?

So we have to work on these transitions, not only in phrases, but separately. So my recommendation is to work on these transitions every day. Just the transitions, like this: ‘d-th’, ‘d-th’, ‘d-th’, ‘d-th’. Or T-TH: ‘t-th’, ‘t-th’, ‘t-th’. Or N-TH: ‘n-th’, ‘n-th’, ‘n-th’. And then when you come across a phrase like “good thing”, your tongue is already going to be used to this transition.

Now, another good reason why you should practice it is that if you tend to keep the tongue inside for the tip of the tongue consonants, like “good thing”, then sometimes the tendency is to keep the tongue inside also for the TH, and then it’s going to sound like ‘good ting’, or ‘in duh’ instead of ‘in the’. That’s why we want to anticipate the TH sound.

All right. Below this video, I’ll post a bunch of practices and transitions so you can actually do these practices daily, you know, even five minutes a day and you will feel the improvement in your clarity, your diction, and definitely when you come across these transitions.

All right, that’s it. Have a wonderful week, full of practice, and I will see you in the next video. Bye.