Phonics experts...

(19 Posts)
lolalotta Wed 30-Jul-14 22:51:53

Help me! Why does the "th" sound at the beginning of "the/ then/ they/ this" sound different from the "f" sound at the beginning of "thank you"? Or is it just one of those things? Sorry if it's a really silly question, I'm helping my DD with her reading and it just got me thinking! Come to think of it "think" has more of a "f" sound at the beginning too!

MumTryingHerBest Wed 30-Jul-14 22:58:11

lolalotta I'm not sure I completely agree with you.

Say the word finger out loud and take note of the position of your tongue and lips. Then say the work think and take note of the position of your tongue and lips. Are they the same?

Do the same with the word 'the' and 'finger'. Are they the same?

fledermaus Wed 30-Jul-14 23:02:53

There isn't a "f" sound at the beginning of thank?

There is a difference between a harder "th" and softer "th" but neither of them sound like "f".

maizieD Wed 30-Jul-14 23:04:43

They probably sound so different because, I suspect, that you say 'fank you', not 'thank you' and 'fing', not 'thing'. If this is the case you'll just have to note 'th' as being a spelling of the /f/ sound...

rollonthesummer Wed 30-Jul-14 23:06:11

There is no F sound!!

steppemum Wed 30-Jul-14 23:36:30

There is no f sound, if you say it with an f sound, then you are mispronouncing it (and many people in uk do)

There are two th sounds, one is voiced and the other isn't.

That means that one is softer, and for the other you push air out of your mouth as you say it.

In most phonic programs they have a way of showing the difference. In dds school, the th was written shorter and fatter for one sound and long and thin for the other, and kids learnt the two sounds.

lolalotta Wed 30-Jul-14 23:46:06

It is very probable that I am miss-pronouncing it, confused I had speech therapy when I was at school for a lisp. Sorry, I feel stupid now!

lolalotta Wed 30-Jul-14 23:48:54

Mumtryingherbest, that was a good example! Thank you for the help.

lolalotta Wed 30-Jul-14 23:50:52

I agree Flender about the softer and harder sound.

lolalotta Wed 30-Jul-14 23:51:34

Thank you for your reply Steppemum.

AuntieStella Thu 31-Jul-14 00:00:10

The difference between voiced and unvoiced consonants is more obvious in other sounds, like 'pat' and 'bat' (your mouth is in the same place for /p/ and /b/ but what makes it different is the amount of puff for each IYSWIM.

For 'th' there are only a few examples where it make a difference to meaning (the mark of being a different phoneme) but one example is the difference between "thigh" and "thy" (try it out loud, if you depend on 'sight' you may miss it).

You can google for lists of words which have voiced or unvoiced /th/ but which it is normally depends on what sounds are adjacent, rather than being opposed phonemic pairs..

steppemum Thu 31-Jul-14 00:08:23

lola - you are in good company, probably half of the uk says fank you and fing, and free (3).

mrz Thu 31-Jul-14 09:27:25

lolalotta don't feel stupid ... you said "more of a /f/ sound" not that you say fing and fin. Listen to how you say the words and try to be aware of where your tongue is when you say the words for this, them, that the tongue is forward between the teeth whereas for thing, think, three it is touching the teeth and for fin, free it is behind the teeth.

If you do say fink, free, fing it isn't a problem as you know the first sound in these words is spelt <th> not <f> (if you were in other parts of the UK you might say ting, tree, tink) ... teachers should teach to the local accent it isn't elocution it's phonics.

mrz Thu 31-Jul-14 09:30:03

meant to say it isn't wrong just different!

Sparkle9 Thu 31-Jul-14 09:35:18
NutellaLawson Thu 31-Jul-14 09:47:09

Th in they is voiced, so is more like a v. Th in think is not voiced (no buzz from the vocal chords).

Thy is to thigh like van is to fan.

Voiced rather than non-voiced. It is odd that we use a different letter for the F sound (the letter v) but the same combo for th.

lljkk Thu 31-Jul-14 10:37:31

F-V-Th are all made with very similar positions for the lips & tongue, that is why they get mixed up. In some accents there is very little difference, too. My youngest DS had speech therapy & still struggles with figuring out which one to use (now 6yo).

there must be some good videos on Youtube to make the differences in lip-tongue-teeth placement more precisely clear.

maizieD Thu 31-Jul-14 15:25:16

Please remember that 'phonics' isn't elocution lessons!
If the OP says 'fing' and 'fank' then we have to suggest that 'th' now spells three sounds (four, if we include the West Indian 'ting' & 'tree'!) instead of the usual voiced & unvoiced, tongue between the teeth, /th/.

Though it does make learning to spell even more complex...grin

Ferguson Fri 01-Aug-14 14:00:09

When I was a TA I used to encourage children to 'put their tongue' out to pronounce 'th' correctly (which, of course, they enjoyed doing!) When a baby is learning to talk I think 'th' can be difficult for many.

Today, sadly, TV programmes like Eastenders, seem to ENCOURAGE poor speech, and even the children's channels are not perfect - except for Charlie and Lola.

A book you might find useful, and enjoyable, can be found in the MN Book Reviews, "Children's educational books and courses". The Oxford Phonics Spelling Dictionary will give parents and children a lot of help towards understanding phonics and improving their reading and spelling. There is a link on the review to see sample pages from it.

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