Date: Wed, 1 Dec 1993 00:14:24 CST


Subject: Re: th/dh

I hear [hawsIs] from all sorts of people. When I first noticed it in my

Texas nephews' speech I thought it might have been from Chicano influence,

but I've since decided that's not the case at all. The same people who

have /s/ in the plural of house also tend to keep the voiceless fricative

in the plural of bath. I think the pattern is being lost. It's not just

spelling pronunciation. Many of my students say they say the -t- in

soften as well as often, but not after other vowels. They might say the

-t- in glisten but not in listen, so in this case spelling is a culprit.

What's being said about th/dh, I think, explains why so many students have so

much trouble transcribing these words. Make up any new word and you'll find

that the Old English pattern still exerts some influence on the system.

Thuke would have to have a voiceless consonant, but voother could analogize to

either or to ether. I ask my students to make up words when we're discussing

this matter. Often someone will make up a word like thuke and say it with the

voiced consonant. I don't repeat the word but immediately ask the class to

repeat the word. Only those sitting next to the neologizer will say the

word with the voiced fricative. For the final -th/dh, of course, spelling

isn't a culprit that causes bad things but is an aid--for verbs, that is, but

not for plurals of nouns. And have y'all come across the technical term in

nursing -- to bath a baby -- in which the voiceless fricative is used?