Lesson 20- Specific problem for Cantonese speakers: /v/, /z/ and 'th'

These sounds often cause difficulty to speakers of Cantonese because the sounds do not exist in Cantonese.

The consonant /v/

/v/ is articulated exactly like /f/ except that it is voiced. The top teeth touch the lower lip and the air escapes between them, often causing a ticklish feeling in the lower lip.

Try practising the sentences below:

Victor vies with Vince for victory at Victoria Park.
Vanessa drives a Volvo; Vance prefers a van.

Practise this short limerick:

Vicki and Vince drive their van
As fast as they possibly can
Said Vince "Veer left, ma lurve (my love)"
There's a view round that curve
And that was the end of their van.

The consonant /z/

/z/ is articulated exactly like /s/ except that it is voiced and /s/ is voiceless. Try saying "Is it?" Easy? This sound is only hard to say at the beginning of words.

Practice these words:

zoo; zebra; xenophobic; zip; xylophone


Can you distinguish these pairs?

Sue / zoo

sip / zip

The consonants /θ/ and /ð/

The spelling 'th' represents two sounds:

1 the sound in "the" (voiced) /ð/
2 the sound in "thin" (voiceless) /θ/

Practice these examples:

This is the model for the thicker version; that's the thin one.

What's the matter then?

There's a thin thing slithering through the throng;

I think it's a snake! I hope I'm wrong.


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