Th-stopping is the realization of the dental fricatives [θ, ð] as stops—either dental or alveolar—which occurs in several dialects of English. In some accents, such as of Indian English and middle- or upper-class Irish English, they are realized as the dental stops [t̪, d̪] and as such do not merge with the alveolar stops /t, d/; thus, for example, tin ([tʰɪn] in Ireland and [ʈɪn] in India) is not a homophone of thin [t̪ʰɪn].[1] In other accents, such as varieties of Caribbean English, Nigerian English, Liberian English, and older, rural, or working-class Irish English, such pairs are indeed merged.[1] Variation between both dental and alveolar forms exists in much of the working-class English speech of North America and sometimes southern England. It is also common for babies and toddlers, who are still learning to talk and/or haven't fully grown their front teeth capable of producing the Th sound. Th-stopping occurred in all continental Germanic languages, resulting in cognates such as German die for "the" and Bruder for "brother".

New York City English


For the working class of New York City and its surrounding region, the fricatives /θ/ and /ð/ are often pronounced as affricatives or stops, rather than as fricatives. Usually they remain dental, so that the oppositions /t-θ/ and [d-ð] are not lost. Thus thanks may be pronounced [θæŋks], [tθæŋks], or [t̪æŋks] in decreasing order of occurrence;[citation needed] all are distinct from tanks [tʰæŋks]. The [t̪] variant has a weakish articulation. The /t-θ/ opposition may be lost, exceptionally in the environment of a following /r/ (making three homophonous with tree), and in the case of the word with, (so that with a may rhyme with the non-rhotic pronunciation of "bitter-bidder"; with you may be [wɪtʃu], following the same yod-coalescence rule as hit you. These pronunciations are all stigmatized.[citation needed]

The [d-ð] opposition seems to be lost more readily, though not as readily as the "Brooklynese" stereotype might lead one to believe. As in many other places, initial [ð] is subject to assimilation or deletion in a range of environments in relatively informal and/or popular speech, e.g. who's there [huz (z)ɛə]; as in many other places, it is also subject to stopping there /dɛə/. This option extends to one or two words in which the /ð/ is not initial, e.g. other, which can thus become a homonym of utter-udder. But it would not be usual for southern to be pronounced identically with sudden or breathe with breed.[citation needed]

African American Vernacular English


In African American Vernacular English, in the words with and nothing, [t] may occur corresponding to standard [θ], with the [t] itself being succeeded by the t-glottalization rule: thus [wɪʔ] for with and [ˈnʌʔɪn] for nothing.[2]: 83  Th-stopping is also reported for some other non-initial [θ]s, apparently particularly when preceded by a nasal and followed by a plosive, as keep your mouth closed.[2]: 90  In initial position, [θ] occurs in AAVE just as in standard accents: thin is [θɪn], without the stopping of West Indian accents.[3] Stopping of initial [ð], however, is frequent, making then pronounced as [d̪ɪ̃n] or sometimes homophonous with den.

Frequency in other accents


Th-stopping is also commonly heard, specifically from speakers of working-class origins, in the American English dialects of the Inland North (for example, in Milwaukee, Chicago, Cleveland, Buffalo, and Scranton), the Upper Midwest (for example in the especially Fennoscandian-descended locals of Minnesota's Iron Range and Michigan's Upper Peninsula), and the Mid-Atlantic region (for example, in Philadelphia and Baltimore),[4] It is also heard in a minority of speakers of England's Estuary dialect (for example, in London), but only in the case of word-initial /ð/.[5] Many speakers of Philippine English and some speakers of other variants in Asia also have th-stopping.

The dialect of Sheffield in England is sometimes referred to as "dee-dar" because of the Th-stopping to change initial /ð/ to /d/. However, a 1997 study in Sheffield found this was then largely confined to older males.[6]

Homophonous pairs

/t, d/ /θ, ð/ IPA Notes
ate eighth ˈeɪt Some accents pronounce ate as /ɛt/
Bart bath ˈbɑːt Non-rhotic accents with trapbath split.
bat bath ˈbæt Without trapbath split.
bayed bathe ˈbeɪd
bet Beth ˈbɛt
bladder blather ˈblædə(ɹ)
blight Blythe ˈblaɪt
blitter blither ˈblɪɾə(ɹ) With intervocalic alveolar flapping.
boat both ˈboʊt
body bothy ˈbɒɾi Without lotcloth split and with intervocalic alveolar flapping.
boot booth ˈbuːt
breed breathe ˈbɹiːd
Brett breath ˈbɹɛt
brought broth ˈbrɔːt With lotcloth split. Also /ˈbrɒt/ in some accents.
cedar seether ˈsiːdə(ɹ)
cent synth ˈsɪnt With pinpen merger.
cite scythe ˈsaɪt
clot cloth ˈklɒt Without cotcaught merger.
coot couth ˈkuːt
D; dee the ˈdiː The before vowels and silent H.
D; dee thee ˈdiː
Dan than ˈdæn
dare their ˈdeə(ɹ)
dare there ˈdeə(ɹ)
dare they're ˈdeə(ɹ)
Darude the rude dəˈruːd
day they ˈdeɪ
debt death ˈdɛt
Dee the ˈdiː The before vowels and silent H.
Dee thee ˈdiː
den then ˈdɛn
dense thence ˈdɛns
dents thence ˈdɛn(t)s
dhow thou ˈdaʊ
die thy ˈdaɪ
dine thine ˈdaɪn
dirt dearth ˈdɜː(ɹ)t with fernfirfur merger.
dis this ˈdɪs
doe though ˈdoʊ
does those ˈdoʊz
dough though ˈdoʊ
dow thou ˈdaʊ
dow though ˈdoʊ
drought drouth ˈdɹaʊt
dye thy ˈdaɪ
eater either ˈiːɾə(ɹ) With intervocalic alveolar flapping.
eater ether ˈiːtə(ɹ) With intervocalic alveolar flapping.
eight eighth ˈeɪt
Ent nth ˈɛnt
fate faith ˈfeɪt
fetter feather ˈfɛɾə(ɹ) With intervocalic alveolar flapping.
fit fifth ˈfɪt Some accents pronounce fifth as /ˈfɪft/.
fodder father ˈfɑːdə(ɹ) With fatherbother merger.
fort forth ˈfɔː(ɹ)t
fort fourth ˈfɔː(ɹ)t
fraught froth ˈfɹɔːt With lotcloth split.
frot froth ˈfɹɒt Without lotcloth split.
got goth, Goth ˈɡɒt
groat growth ˈɡɹoʊt
hart hearth ˈhɑː(ɹ)t
hat hath ˈhæt
header heather ˈhɛdə(ɹ)
heart hearth ˈhɑː(ɹ)t
heat heath ˈhiːt
hitter hither ˈhɪɾə(ɹ) With intervocalic alveolar flapping.
hurt earth ˈɜː(ɹ)t With H-dropping and fernfirfur merger.
Ida either ˈaɪdə Non-rhotic accents.
knead neath ˈniːd
kneader neither ˈniːdə(ɹ)
kneed neath ˈniːd
ladder lather ˈlædə(ɹ)
lade lathe ˈleɪd
laid lathe ˈleɪd
latter lather ˈlæɾə(ɹ) With intervocalic alveolar flapping.
letter leather ˈlɛɾə(ɹ)
lied lithe ˈlaɪd
load loathe ˈloʊd
lode loathe ˈloʊd
loud Louth ˈlaʊd
martyr Martha ˈmɑːtə Non-rhotic accents.
mat math ˈmæt
matte math ˈmæt
mead Meath ˈmiːd
meat Meath ˈmiːt
meet Meath ˈmiːt
met meth ˈmɛt
mete Meath ˈmiːt
mitt myth ˈmɪt
motte moth ˈmɑt
mutter mother ˈmʌɾə(ɹ) With intervocalic alveolar flapping.
naught north ˈnɔːt Non-rhotic accents.
neater neither ˈniːɾə(ɹ) With intervocalic alveolar flapping.
Some accents pronounce neither as /ˈnaɪtə(ɹ)/.
neat neath ˈniːt
need neath ˈniːd
oat oath ˈoʊt
oats oaths ˈoʊts
odes oaths ˈoʊdz
pads paths ˈpædz Without trapbath split.
paid pathe ˈpeɪd
part path ˈpɑːt Non-rhotic accents with trapbath split.
parts paths ˈpɑːts
pat path ˈpæt Without trapbath split.
pats paths ˈpæts
pit pith ˈpɪt
pity pithy ˈpɪti
rat wrath ˈɹæt Without trapbath split.
rate wraith ˈɹeɪt
read wreathe ˈɹiːd
reads wreathes ˈɹiːdz
reads wreaths ˈɹiːdz
reed wreathe ˈɹiːd
reeds wreathes ˈɹiːdz
reeds wreaths ˈɹiːdz
ride writhe ˈɹaɪd
rot Roth ˈɹɒt Without lotcloth split.
root ruth, Ruth ˈɹuːt With yod-dropping.
Some accents pronounce root as /ˈɹʊt/.
route ruth, Ruth ˈɹuːt With yod-dropping.
Some accents pronounce route as /ˈɹaʊt/.
scent synth ˈsɪnt With penpin merger.
seed seethe ˈsiːd
seeder seether ˈsiːdə(ɹ)
sent synth ˈsɪnt With penpin merger.
set saith ˈsɛt
set Seth ˈsɛt
she'd sheathe ˈʃiːd
sheet sheath ˈʃiːt
side scythe ˈsaɪd
sight scythe ˈsaɪt
sit Sith ˈsɪt
site scythe ˈsaɪt
smit smith ˈsmɪt
smite Smyth ˈsmaɪt
spilt spilth ˈspɪlt
soot sooth ˈsuːt Some accents pronounce soot as /ˈsʊt/.
sudden southern ˈsʌdən Non-rhotic accents.
sued soothe ˈsuːd With yod-dropping.
suede swathe ˈsweɪd Some accents pronounce swathe as /ˈswɒd/.
suit sooth ˈsuːt With yod-dropping.
swat swath ˈswɒt Without lotcloth split.
swayed swathe ˈsweɪd Some accents pronounce swathe as /ˈswɒd/.
tank thank ˈtæŋk
tater theta ˈteɪtə Non-rhotic accents.
Some accents pronounce theta as /ˈtiːtə/.
taught thought ˈtɔːt
team theme ˈtiːm
teary theory ˈtɪəɹi
teat teeth ˈtiːt
teed teethe ˈtiːd
teeter theta ˈtiːtə Non-rhotic accents.
Some accents pronounce theta as /ˈteɪtə/.
tent tenth ˈtɛnt
Thai thigh ˈtaɪ
tic thick ˈtɪk
tick thick ˈtɪk
ticket thicket ˈtɪkət
tide tithe ˈtaɪd
tie thigh ˈtaɪ
tied tithe ˈtaɪd
tin thin ˈtɪn
tinker thinker ˈtɪnkə(ɹ)
toot tooth ˈtuːt
tor thaw ˈtɔː Non-rhotic accents.
tor Thor ˈtɔː(ɹ)
tore thaw ˈtɔː Non-rhotic accents with horsehoarse merger.
tore Thor ˈtɔː(ɹ) With horsehoarse merger.
torn thorn ˈtɔː(ɹ)n With horsehoarse merger.
tort thought ˈtɔː(ɹ)t Non-rhotic accents.
tote Thoth ˈtoʊt
trash thrash ˈtɹæʃ
trawl thrall ˈtɹɔːl
tread thread ˈtɹɛd
tree three ˈtɹiː
trill thrill ˈtɹɪl
true threw ˈtɹuː, ˈtɹɪu
true through ˈtɹuː With yod-dropping.
trust thrust ˈtɹʌst
tum thumb ˈtʌm
tump thump ˈtʌmp
turd third ˈtɜː(ɹ)d With fernfirfur merger.
udder other ˈʌdə(ɹ)
utter other ˈʌɾə(ɹ) With intervocalic alveolar flapping.
Utes youths ˈjuːts
welt wealth ˈwɛlt
wetter weather ˈwɛɾə(ɹ) With intervocalic alveolar flapping.
wit width ˈwɪt
wit with ˈwɪt
wordy worthy ˈwɜː(ɹ)di, ˈwʌɹdi
wort worth ˈwɜː(ɹ)t, ˈwʌɹt Some accents pronounce wort as /ˈwɔː(ɹ)t/.
wrought Roth ˈɹɔːt With lotcloth split.
wrought wroth ˈɹɔːt With lotcloth split.

See also



  1. ^ a b Wells, J.C. (1989). The British Isles. Accents of English. Vol. 2. Cambridge: University Press. pp. 565–66, 635. ISBN 9780521285407.
  2. ^ a b Wolfram, Walter A. (September 1970). "A Sociolinguistic Description of Detroit Negro Speech". Language. 46 (3): 764. doi:10.2307/412325. ISSN 0097-8507. JSTOR 412325.
  3. ^ Wolfram 1969, p. 130, does however mention the use of 'a lenis [t]' as a rare variant.
  4. ^ van den Doel, Rias (2006). How Friendly Are the Natives? An Evaluation of Native-Speaker Judgements of Foreign-Accented British and American English (PDF). Landelijke onderzoekschool taalwetenschap (Netherlands Graduate School of Linguistics). p. 268.
  5. ^ van den Doel, Rias (2006). How Friendly Are the Natives? An Evaluation of Native-Speaker Judgements of Foreign-Accented British and American English (PDF). Landelijke onderzoekschool taalwetenschap (Netherlands Graduate School of Linguistics). p. 251.
  6. ^ Stoddart, Jana; Upton, Clive; Widdowson, J.D.A. (1999), "Sheffield dialect in the 1990s: revisiting the concept of NORMs", Urban Voices, London: Arnold, pp. 76, 79