Consonants /t/ versus /Ɵ/, 128 pairs     [tinthin.html]

The spelling of /t/ is usually <t>, <te> or <tt>, but we also often see <ght> in naught and <th> in Thai. The /Ɵ/ sound is <th> throughout.

The contrast is between a plosive and a fricative, both voiceless and close together in the mouth. It is a problem for many learners, including Dutch and French.

An interesting mis-hearing arising from this contrast occurred in BBC news broadcasts on 26 December 2011, when it was announced that "Following heart surgery, Prince Philip will spend a fourth night in hospital." This was often heard as "a fortnight in hospital", which would have been far more serious.

One potentially embarrassing pair is turd/third.

Interesting pairs include:

plating plaything

The mean density value is 0.8%. The list makes 91 semantic distinctions, a loading of 71%.

Bart bath
beat Beith 
beet Beith
Bert berth
Bert birth
boat both
cat Cath
clot cloth
  clots cloths 
dirt dearth 
debt death 
  debts deaths 
eater aether 
eater ether
fate faith 
  fates faiths 
fête faith
  fêtes faiths
fort forth
fort fourth
  forts fourths
fought forth
fought fourth
garret Gareth 
girt girth
got Goth
groat growth
  groats growths
hart hearth
  harts hearths
heart hearth  
  hearts hearths
hat hath
heat heath
  heats heaths
kit kith
mats maths
meat Meath
Metz meths
mitt myth
  mitts myths
naught north
nutting nothing
oat oath
  oats oaths
part path
pert Perth
pit pith
pity pithy
plating plaything
quote quoth
rate wraith
  rates wraiths
rot wrath
rote wroth
root ruth
set saith
sheet sheath
suit sooth
tank thank
  tanked thanked
  tanking thanking
  tanks thanks
taught thought
taut thought
tawny thorny
tawse thaws
team theme
  teams themes
teat teeth
tent tenth
  tenths tents
term therm
  terms therms
Thai thigh
  Thais thighs
tie thigh
  ties thighs
tor thaw
  tors thaws
tore thaw
tic thick
tick thick
ticker thicker
ticket thicket      
  tickets thickets
tinker thinker
  tinkers thinkers
turd third
  turds thirds
toll thole
  tolls tholes
tongs thongs
torn thorn
tort thought
  torts thoughts
trawl thrall
trawls thralls 
trash thrash 
tread thread 
  treading threading
  treads threads
tree three
  trees threes
true threw 
true through
trice thrice
trill thrill
  trilled thrilled
  trilling thrilling
  trills thrills
trove throve
trussed thrust 
trust thrust
  trusting thrusting
  trusts thrusts
tug thug
  tugs thugs
tilt tilth
  tilts tilths
toot tooth
welt wealth
wert worth
whit withe	 
whit with
wit with
wit withe
  wits withes

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, December 2011.