How to Link the TH Sound

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In this American English pronunciation video, we're going to talk about linking and the

TH sound. I've been getting a lot of questions about this recently. Understandable, since

the TH sound is in some very common words, and linking is such an important concept in

American English.

Of course, I can't go over every combination of linking with the TH. But in this video,

we're going to take 10 examples. We'll watch them in slow motion, and we'll discuss what

the mouth is doing to link the sounds. Let's get started.

This thing.

Here we're linking the S with the TH. Here the tongue comes through for the first TH

sound, tongue tip stays just behind the bottom teeth as they come together for the S, and

the tongue comes through again for the TH. So the movement from the S to the TH is quite

simple. Teeth go from being closed, with the tongue just behind the bottom teeth to parting

with the tongue coming through. Let's watch again. This thing.

Here we're linking the Z with the voiced TH.

Was that.

Even though the sounds are different than the previous example, the mouth position is

the same for both sounds. However, in this case there's going to be a difference. Teeth

close for the Z sound, but the tongue tip doesn't really come through the teeth for

the TH. That's because you can get away with making the voiced TH sound, especially at

the beginning of an unstressed syllable, by pressing the tongue behind the closed teeth.

So, the tongue tip will press behind where the teeth come together, but not actually

come all the way through like it does for the unvoiced TH. Let's watch again.

Was that.

Here I'm linking a stop T with the voiced TH. Something interesting happens here.

Sit there.

Rather than the tongue going up into the stop T position, it simply comes out of the vowel,

straight into the TH position. However, I don't leave the stop T out. I still stop the

sound before voicing the TH -- sit there, sit there -- so that we get the feel for the

stop T. But rather than taking the tongue tip to the roof of the mouth, I make the stop

while bringing the tongue tip through the teeth. Let's watch again.

Sit there.

Here we're linking the V sound with the voiced TH. It's quite straightforward. You will

clearly see both mouth positions.

Of these.

The bottom lip comes up making contact with the top teeth for the V sound, then the lip

pulls down and the tongue comes through the teeth for the TH sound. Let's watch again.

Of these.

Here we're linking the P with the voiced TH. Again, it's quite straightforward. You'll

clearly see the mouth position of both sounds.

Hope the.

The lips come together to make the P, and as they part, the tongue tip comes through

the teeth to make the TH. Watch again.

Hope the.

Here we're linking the unvoiced TH with the ST consonant cluster.

North star.

The tongue comes through the teeth, to make the TH. Then the tongue tip pulls back and

touches just behind the bottom of the front teeth while the teeth close to make the S sound.

Then the tongue tip will go up to the roof of the mouth to make the T. Let's watch again.

North star.

Here we're connecting the unvoiced TH with the F consonant. You'll be able to clearly

see both mouth positions.

With funny.

Tongue comes through the teeth for the TH, and the bottom lip raises to touch the bottom

of the front top teeth for the F sound. Watch again.

With funny.

Here we're connecting the unvoiced TH with the W consonant sound.

Both will.

Tongue comes through the teeth for the TH, then pulls back and the lips form the tight

circle for the W while the tongue tip is just behind the bottom front teeth. Watch again.

Both will.

Here we'll see the unvoiced TH linking to the K consonant sound.

Health code.

Tongue tip comes through the teeth for the TH. For the K, the tongue tip comes back in

the mouth and goes down, touching behind the bottom front teeth. The back part of the tongue

raises and touches the soft palate, which is why you see a dark space in the mouth.

Watch again.

Health code.

Here we'll see the unvoiced TH linking with the S sound.

South side.

Tongue tip comes through the teeth for the TH. Then the tongue tip comes back into the

mouth and lightly touches behind the bottom front teeth while the teeth close to make

the S sound. Watch again.

South side.

I hope this study in linking words with the TH will make it easy for you to link any word

with the TH that you may come across. Practice word pairs like the 10 here, or other word

pairs, and do them slowly. And practice them over and over. Repetition really will help

you become more comfortable linking with the TH sound.

That's it, and thanks so much for using Rachel's English.

I'd like to take moment for a quick plug for a new course I'm developing. It's going to

be an 8-week conversation course that runs in April and May of 2012. It will bring together

videos, audio clips, and exercise PDFs that I've made for my private students. So, I'll

be pulling in the topics that I find I work on the most with my students. Each week is

structured with certain topics. There will be a lot of drilling practice, and also opportunity

for you to record yourself and upload it for my comment. There will also be group projects,

where you'll be engaging in conversation with one another. Because this is my first time

running such a course, I am offering it at a discount, and I'm also limiting the number

of students to 30. So visit my website for more information, and do consider signing

up. I really think it will take you a long way in your pronunciation practice.

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