The “th” Sound – English Versus Caribbean Pronunciation

Last updated: March 3, 2018 at 12:28 pm

tongue photoThe “th” sound in standard American and British English is made with the teeth between the tongue and a slight “blowing” sound.

The “th” sound comes naturally to English Natives of England, America and Canada, especially those of Caucasian descent.

However, the “th” sound may not come naturally to English speakers of Caribbean countries or among other speakers whose ancestry dates back to foreign languages. For these people, the “th” sound is something that needs to be learned and practiced-which often proves to be a difficult task.

Of course, no one can tell you that your English is “wrong” if you don’t know how to make the “th” sound like the British and Americans do. In fact, there is such a thing as Caribbean Standard English where many words are pronounced very differently from American and British Standard English.

In fact, pronunciation practices of languages differ so greatly across the globe that there is a saying that goes, “who’s to tell you that your pronunciation is wrong?”

Why is it important to learn the “th” sound then? Simply because, “if you’re learning a language, you’re learning a language.” Of course, it’s OK to learn your own “version” of the language. But if you’re learning a language, it’s wisest to learn it exactly, or as close as possible to, the natives of that language. When you do, you’ll not only avoid miscommunication and misunderstandings, but you’ll also impress the natives that you really did a good job of learning their language.

In the Caribbean, among other places, the inhabitants are presently only about 2 or 3 generations into speaking English. Their ancestors spoke languages of East Indian, African and other origins. Consequently, citizens of the Caribbean have great difficulty making the “th” sound, and many avoid it altogether.

So how exactly do you pronounce the “th” sound? Push your teeth between your tongue and blow out slightly.

Here’s an example to help you.

For the first three months, the war seesawed.

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