Pronunciation of "th"

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rondina

New Member
Brazil, Brazilian Portuguese
Hello folks.

Please consider as an example these two nouns:

- die Trompete
- die Thrombose

Is there any difference between the pronunciation of Tro and Thro? And is th pronounced in German the same way it is in English?

Thanks,
Gustavo
 
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  • berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    No, a in German, th occurs only in foreign words and its pronunciation is exactly the same as a normal t which is always aspirated in German. A German would confuse an unaspirated t with a d. And it is definitly never pronounced like an English th. These two sounds (the voiced and the unvoiced English th) do not exist in German.
     
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    Kuestenwache

    Senior Member
    German-Germany
    actually many words used to be written with "th" too in German, but are no longer (e.g. Thron/Tron, Thon/Ton).
     

    rondina

    New Member
    Brazil, Brazilian Portuguese
    It was precisely the word Thron that brought me doubt. I was watching the news at DWTV and this word appeared in a headline. Now it is clear, thank to both of you.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    To spell "Thron" with th (and some other waords as well) was fashonable during the 18th and 19th centuries. There was neither an etymological nor a phonetic reason for this. It just made the word look more important. Middle High German spelling was definitly whithout an h.
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    actually many words used to be written with "th" too in German, but are no longer (e.g. Thron/Tron, Thon/Ton).
    To spell "Thron" with th (and some other waords as well) was fashonable during the 18th and 19th centuries.
    Sorry, guys, but did I miss something? Thron is still spelled with th. ;)

    There was neither an etymological nor a phonetic reason for this.
    Who says so? At least, it depends. Sometimes it was Greek words having a θ (theta) in Ancient Greek that were spelled with th in German. So the etymological reason is clear:

    Theater (θέᾱτρον)
    Thrombose (θρομβώσις)
    Theorie (θεωρία)
    Thron (θρόνος)
    Thunfisch (θύννος)
    Thymian (θύμον)
    Theke (θήκη)
    These (θέσις)
    Thermo... (θερμός)
    Theologie (θεός + λόγος)
    Thema (θέμα)
    ...

    However, you're right that most German words used to be spelled with "th" without any further reason: Thor (das/der), Thür, Thran, ...

    Other words, like Tiger, Tisch, Teufel etc. were always like they are spelled today.

    It just made the word look more important.
    I don't believe that that was the reason. Why should a Tür be more important than a Tisch? ;)

    Middle High German spelling was definitly whithout an h.
    That is not necessarily true. The Middle High German spelling of "Thron" was both trôn and thrôn, tymian and thimean, ...

    The rule about the "th" in German is not consistent at all; you just have to memorize which words are spelled with or without "th". :)

    And to come back to the original question: No, there's no difference in pronunciation between "Trom..." and "Throm...".
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Who says so?
    In the case of "Thron" there is no etymological reason. In other cases there are etymological reasons, in particular for words of Greek origin, as you pointed out.

    And of course you are right; "Thron" is one of the rare cases where these spurious ths have survived. :eek:

    True, you find thrôn occasionally in MHG texts. But it was a rare variant.
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    One anomaly is "Thunfisch" which is spelled now (after the reform) "Tunfisch".
    True, but even the Duden suggests to stick with "Thunfisch". Tunfisch looks strange and would be an anomaly. ;)

    "I'm not sure, if the older version with "th" is correct now
    It's still correct, and the new Duden highlights "Thunfisch" as preferred.

    and were it came from.
    From Greek, too: θύννος. "Fisch" haben die Deutschen im 16. Jahrhundert (wie auch beim Walfisch) zur Verdeutlichung angehängt. In anderen Sprachen fehlt dieser Zusatz: English tuna, French thon, Spanish atún, Italian tonno, ...
     

    Kuestenwache

    Senior Member
    German-Germany
    pretty embarrassing that "Thron" thing, I would have taken a bet the so called "Rechtschreibreform" changed that. Well I'm one of the lucky ones to experience the change of spelling and grammar just during the own time at school, guess I got a little confused there. I'm sorry.
    Was "th" really an invention of the 18th century? Was it just like the idea of exchanging "i" with "y" in that time?
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    Was "th" really an invention of the 18th century? Was it just like the idea of exchanging "i" with "y" in that time?
    Maybe someone else can explain it better, but as you supposed: yes, it was an invention during that time. Look up several words in Grimm's dictionary, and you'll find various spellings: heissen, heiszen, heißen (although the ß was a later invention); teilen, theilen, theylen; in, ynn, inn, yn ...

    I guess the idea of exchanging "i" with "y" was a bit sooner, but they could overlap the "th" thing. In that time, spelling was not too important. Konrad Duden was the first one to publish a work with a mandatory orthography, which involved a dispute then. ;)
     
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