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The fing with th-fronting

Community Guru
Natasa R Member Since: Feb 2, 2012
1 of 35

I just had an interesting discussion with a client about th-fronting, which is a bit weird to me.

 

The client is looking to hire a Swedish translator with good British accent for a future project and asked me if I could record a short piece of text so that he could hear if I am a good fit for the job. I told him that I have an American accent but he insisted because he thought that I would be able to do a short session in British. 

 

I have studied both British English and American English and I know the differences between the accents and phonetics, so I went along with the client's request having no doubts. When I finished reading the text, I sent it to him and the client replied to me saying that I had mispronounced some words. For example, I pronounce "thing" with "th", not with an "f" as in "fing", and that is wrong according to the client.

 

I thought at first that the client didn't hear me well. I assured him it was correct and that I pronounce words such as "thesis", "think", "Thursday" with "th", /θ/. But the client kept telling me that I was wrong and that the correct pronounciation is with the "f" and "v". I told him that th-fronting is unusual to me and ended the conversation politely telling him that I wasn't the right candidate for the job. 

 

I know th-fronting is common in certain dialects, but to say that "Thursday" is mispronounced with "th"... huh?

 

- Hey, my brover's birfday is next Firsday and I would love for you to come. Can you make it?

- Of course! What time?

- Free firty. 

- I fink I am free on Firsday. Let me see... yes, free firty Firsday is fine. 

- Awesome! We will frow him a surprise party so don't tell him anyfing.  

- OK, fanks for letting me know. I'll see you vere. 

 

It doesn't matter how many times I read it out loud, it still sounds weird to me. 

 

Is anyone here familiar with th-fronting? Is it really that common in British English?  

Ace Contributor
Leila J Member Since: Jan 9, 2015
2 of 35

Sounds like the strong Cockney accent found among certain Londoners, which is usually considered as slang. Very odd that he should ask for that. Was he joking? Who were his intended audience, I wonder?

 

I know someone who speaks like that but I don't think he knows any Swedish.

Community Guru
Natasa R Member Since: Feb 2, 2012
3 of 35

Leila,

 

I thought it was very odd too. He didn't mention anything about a target audience, he just told me that he wanted to see if I was good fit for the job and wanted me to read a very short text with British accent. And then insisted that I pronounced the words wrong.  

 

If it wasn't a joke then it was one of the weirdest interviews I've ever had.

Community Guru
Isabelle Anne A Member Since: May 19, 2014
4 of 35

I was taught by several British professors, and not one of them used th-fronting pronunciation. 

 

However, a quick look at Wikipedia brings this up: "Th-fronting is a prominent feature of several dialects of English, notably Cockney, Estuary English, some West Country dialects..." - perhaps that's what the client was thinking of?

 

Hopefully a native British English speaker will come along and clarify.

 

Anyway, I'm not particularly fond of th-fronting - doesn't sound like proper English to me, and I think you dodged a bullet with that client Smiley Happy (No offense to anyone who uses th-fronting!)

Community Guru
Natasa R Member Since: Feb 2, 2012
5 of 35

Isabelle,

 

He didn't mention anything about a dialect or any specifics about th-fronting. If I knew that he wanted a British dialect, I would have said no immediately because I don't speak British dialects. 

 

What really surprised me though was that he told me that I pronounced the words wrong. 

 

 

Community Guru
Lyam B Member Since: Nov 3, 2014
6 of 35

I've never heard of this and I've lived in England my entire life. I pronounce "thing" with a TH, just like everyone else I know...

 

I once pronounced words with an F, instead of TH, but that was because of a speech impediment. 

Community Guru
Natasa R Member Since: Feb 2, 2012
7 of 35

At least I'm not the only one to pronounce with "th". 

Community Guru
Douglas Michael M Member Since: May 22, 2015
8 of 35

I'm confused. Is the dialogue you highlight in blue illustrate meant to illustrate your sense of weirdness, or is it an excerpt from the job script?

Community Guru
Natasa R Member Since: Feb 2, 2012
9 of 35

It's a short piece of text with some of the words that were in the original text to show what the client considered to be correct British English as if they were spoken. I realized he was talking about th-fronting when he told me about the "f" and "v". I didn't want to let things escalate to another level so I ended the conversation. The whole thing felt surreal when he said that I mispronounced words like "thing" and "Thursday" with "th". 

 

 

 

Community Guru
Douglas Michael M Member Since: May 22, 2015
10 of 35

@Natasa R wrote:

It's a short piece of text with some of the words that were in the original text to show what the client considered to be correct British English as if they were spoken.


I'm still confused. It's a voiceover artist's job to read the script as written (bringing appropriate interpretive skills.) If the f's and v's are in the script, that's what one reads. If one doesn't feel up to the job of conveying a transliterated accent, one says so. Not sure of the point of discussing with the client what's "correct."

 

Best,

Michael

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