Native vs non native th
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Native vs. Non-native ‘th‘. A short comparison By Finn Kristensen Sabrina Riedel Tim Rocktaeschel Marco Tiedemann. Hypothesis.

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Native vs non native th

Native vs. Non-native ‘th‘

A short comparison


Finn Kristensen

Sabrina Riedel

Tim Rocktaeschel

Marco Tiedemann


German English speakers substitute the sound /z/ for the sounds /θ/ and /ð/ because these sounds don’t exist in the German language, and are therefore difficult to reproduce.


  • We used a native speaker of German and a native speaker of English who both read the same text

  • Didn‘t use same words; were looking only for sounds

  • Wav files were obtained from course cd

  • Compared the spoken sounds using Praat

The th tongue placement
The /th/: Tongue Placement

If you put your tongue right behind your teeth, you will make a /d/ or /t/ sound instead of /ð/ or /θ/ sound. If it sounds like you are making an /z/ or /s/ sound, it is because your tongue touches your alveolar ridge.

Voiced th voiceless th
Voiced “th“= /ð/ Voiceless“th“=/θ/

Ze tiger and ze mous
Ze Tiger and ze Mous

  • Example of a German accent

Compared german english voiceless th
Compared German/English Voiceless /th/

native unvoiced /th/

German unvoiced /th/

Compared german english voiced
Compared German/English Voiced /ð/

German voiced /ð/

Native voiced / ð /

Good pronunciation an early start helps


Because of play instinct  easiness about imitating foreign language.

  Caused by Psychological and

Physical factors

Adults mostly have an analytical approach

Good Pronunciation: An Early Start Helps


  • We were unable to gather enough data to prove that all German English speakers with poor pronunciation substitute a /z/ for the voiced and voiceless th sounds, or that they do this because the sounds don‘t exist in the German language. Our example shows, however, that our hypothesis isn‘t entirely untrue.