The word "the"

Discussion in 'General Education Archives' started by Miss Kirby, Mar 24, 2007.

  1. Miss Kirby

    Miss Kirby Fanatic

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    I was talking about something the other day, and I said the word "the" but pronounced it 'thee.' Then one of my first graders said, "Miss Kirby, it's 'thuh' not 'thee'!" (This kid tries to call me out on every mistake I make!) I said sometimes people say it differently.... but then wondered why I sometimes say 'thuh' and sometimes say 'thee.' Was there a reason? Was I saying it incorrectly? I just googled it and came across this: http://www.englishclub.com/pronunciation/the.htm I can't believe I never heard of that before... Have any of your students ever asked about this?
     
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  3. Emma35

    Emma35 Connoisseur

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    Gosh, I never even though about this! I hope my first graders never ask...just one more thing to confuse them about! But if they do ask I will now have an answer.
     
  4. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Wow! Very intersting. I guess that's why you say "thee end" after stories.
     
  5. Ponypal

    Ponypal Comrade

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    Oh my gosh! I have had problems with "the". It's the first sight word that is introduced in the reading series. We say "thuh" here where I live. However, this year I have a difficult student and his difficult parents. At a parent/teacher conference they brought it up, and said that they had come from a different state and say it differently (thee). I immediatly said ok, I would accept it however it was pronounced, but they still went on about it for ten more annoying minutes. Well, this student has had trouble with reading and so the next day I pointed to the word on the wall (the) and asked him what it was. He said "that". I didn't even know what to say then... But then again his parents think it's totally ok to pin someone down on the floor and put his hands on their throat. They think that's acceptable behavior.

    Thank you for the link. I will certainly use it!
     
  6. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    It's like 'a' and 'an' in that way. It depends on the sound of the word that follows.

    Our sense of the musical flow of the language is so accustomed to hearing certain words and expressions certain ways, that it's often amazing when simple little things are pointed out. Don't you just LOVE it?

    Now. Who can tell me why we make the word 'child' plural by adding 'ren' instead of 's?' And are there any other common nouns that fall into this category?

    (I have used this as a bonus question for almost thirty years.)
     
  7. Miss Kirby

    Miss Kirby Fanatic

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    "A few nouns have plural forms that are left from Old English. These include child, children and ox, oxen."

    Google is amazing, hehe.
     
  8. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    There's one more fairly common one. It's rarely used in conversation but everybody knows it when they see it.
     
  9. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    We run into "thee" vs "thuh" in church choir a lot... because if we don't all sing the same thing, it doesn't sound right. ;)
     
  10. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I thought this was an interesting post. I use both and I never thought about why. I'm sure I wasn't taught. It must have something to do with phonological ease and listening to the sound of it growing up.
     
  11. GatorGal

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    The plural form of "person"--"people"?
    Although, I have heard others use the term "persons" somewhat frequently (Missing Persons?). I don't think there's a way to use "peoples" correctly, unless its in a possessive form (The People's Choice Awards?).

    Hmm...I really need to learn the rule for person/people now that I think more about it.:eek: Thats why I love English!
     
  12. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    That is interesting about the word the.

    You know what my children have a hard time with
    Mouse and mice
    House and houses

    Why isn't it mouses or hice?
     
  13. wig

    wig Devotee

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    A vs UH when reading:

    Another example:

    Back in the olden days I was taught to teach children to read the way they speak. We would never SAY: I have a red ball. We would say, I have UH red ball. Yet children are taught to read the word as the letter a. I confess it really grates on my ears when I hear it.
     
  14. Mable

    Mable Enthusiast

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    Uh, oh. I guess I better watch how I say words. I had to train myself differently after much teasing when I was younger and getting it wrong on spelling tests. I used to say "warshington" or "warsh" my clothes. I know that's the extreme- but it was where I came from.
     
  15. Miss Kirby

    Miss Kirby Fanatic

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    One of my little guys was telling me, "I need a plastic baig." I had no idea what he was talking about... a baig? What's that? He kept saying, "A BAIG!" And I kep saying, "WHAT?" Finally I realized he was talking about a plastic BAG. Haha. The kid thought I was nuts I didn't understand.

    What about man/men, woman/women. Does that fall under the same category is child/children, and ox/oxen?
     
  16. wig

    wig Devotee

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    LOL! Well you all made a good point. For the most part, the North Central States pronounce words the way the dictionary suggests which is probably why the statement "teach children to read the way they speak".

    When I taught first grade in the south the parents used to comment on how their children spoke with a southern accent and read with a northern accent. I never even noticed that but I guess since I modeled the sounds of the letters, that made sense.
     
  17. hescollin

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    the thee I learned something today. Thanks for sharing
     
  18. Exo

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    He-heh, just had this conversation with my son (he is in K). I am a foreighner, and I was tought brittish English 9it took me awile to start "hearing" american version!) So I say always "thee". My son corrected me the other day - "our teacher says THUH" or "DUH". I was about to cry... Especially "DUH"... sounds so.... oh... To be short - no 'Thuh" or "Duh" allowed.
     
  19. Exo

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    Just on the second thought... In Russia, though every part has its "dialect' with pronounciation, the school were teaching the "literate" version of state accepted russian - the one so called "Moscow Russian" which was the correct one. In Ukraine, the correct version of ukranian language was the one used in Poltava - so we were taught the poltavian ukraininan, even though people in my area used to pronounce words differently.
    Is there any classical English accepted that should be taught to our children?
     
  20. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    "Man-men," etc. does not fall under the '-en' rule because the 'n' was already there. That one is a simple change of interior vowel.

    Why do we have so many different and weird ways of forming plurals? That's really simple; we stole our words from pretty much every language on the planet, and we stole their rules as well. It's fascinating!!!!!!!!

    The study of grammar has much to do with the study of history and geography, because a region's accents and dialects originated from the kind of people who settled there in the first place. The original pioneers tended to settle where others of their kind already were, thus creating the regional accents and dialects of a particular geographical place. Southern accents are similar to many African languages, for example. (children imitate the speech of the adults they most often interact with, and slaves raised the children of the white plantation owners; therefore, while the owners spoke in an English accent for the most part, their children's speech was similar to the speech patterns of the slaves who cared for them.) Each geographical region of the States has unique language patterns, most of which are indicative of the original languages of the original settlers. I love grammar. LOVE IT.
     
  21. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    Yes, we do have a standard American English grammar that is considered the 'correct' grammar. The grammar commonly taught in school is called "prescriptive grammar," or SEAE (Standard Edited American English). But there are actually several different types of grammar. For example, historical grammar looks at the changes in language over the years. Functional grammar looks at how words are used and arranged in social contexts. But yes, there IS one prescriptive standard English grammar. Think of CNN, and the way educated people speak in movies, etc. Have you ever noticed that the stupider the person is supposed to be, the worse their grammar is? I always ask my students if they want their root canal performed by someone who talks like Jethro Bodine. . . . We expect a certain standard of speech from educated and professional people. If we don't get it, the trust just isn't there.
     
  22. Exo

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    Thank you Mamacita. I should look up the standards... To add to that, my son's teacher often says "aks" instead of "ask" - very common in NY...
     
  23. srh

    srh Devotee

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    This really isn't the same thing--but I'm always fascinated by the number of people who mispronounce "library." They leave out the first "r," apparently because it's a little more difficult to say that way. I OVERemphasize the pronunciation to my Kinders since I'm probably their first source for the word. I'm proud to say my class says it well....

    I'm picky about the "the" and "thee" thing too; and even the word "a" can sound like its name or sound like a short "u" sound. I don't really teach the "the" issue in Kinder because it is a little complicated, but I model it correctly for them--"thee" goes before a vowel sound, and it flows so much better; "the" goes before a consonant. I LOVE THIS STUFF!
     
  24. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I HATE that!!!!

    When I was coaching Speech & Debate, that's one of the things I caught every time...it drove me straight up a wall!!
     
  25. srh

    srh Devotee

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    But Alice, how do you really feel about it???? :-D
     
  26. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Oh, trust me: that WAS the polite, condensed version!!!
     
  27. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    I don't deal well with adults who mispronounce common words. Is anybody surprised?

    idea-ideal liberry Woolsworth Stonehedge. . . . .

    AAAAAAAGHHHH, so ignorant!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  28. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    death instead of deaf.
     
  29. Mamacita

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    Also, the church 'thee' means 'you.' It's not the same thing as 'the' at all.
     
  30. misswhammy

    misswhammy Rookie

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    I moved to Alabama when I was in the 4th grade. My teacher would always say "idear". It took me forever to understand that she meant "idea". Even though I was only 9, I knew that it was not correct.

    I tutor an 8 yr old girl. She tried to correct me when I said "ask" instead of "aks".
     
  31. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    MY jr. high principal always referred to Chicargo, Ill-i-noise.

    Pet peeve is people who don't know the S in Illinois is silent (among other things!)

    One things about Chicago tht bugs me is the pronounciatinn of the "oo" sound.

    roof should be rooooooooooof, not "ruff"
    same goes for root, not rut. Root and rut are two COMPLETELY different things.

    Drove me NUTS when I moved here. ;)
     
  32. srh

    srh Devotee

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    Mamacita: In quoting the word "thee," we were only referencing the SOUND of the word--long e's. At least I was! Meaning of the word was not the point!

    In defense of some mispronounced words, it's good to remember there are regional dialect issues too. No one would accuse a Bostonian of "mispronouncing" the word "car" even when the end consonant disappears. That's not the reason for them all, but... Yep, some of it is just ignorance, but that in itself could mean that someone was not taught the correct way! (I'm a little soft because of a particular university course I took. Sometimes the "right" or "wrong" takes a back seat to just listening and knowing a person. Especially children. But at least we have the opportunity to teach them better. And I'm NOT a bleeding heart!! :-D)

    P.S. In fact, the post just above mine illustrates one of my big annoyances too. We have a county in California that is Stanislaus. The final "s" is not pronounced. BUT how in the world would someone KNOW that unless directly instructed? We don't now if it's French or whatever--even if it is, unless you know some French, it wouldn't matter! See what I mean? I think we're harsh sometimes! (But I still get annoyed!!!)
     
  33. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    The Illinois things drives me crazy. And Oregon. Everyone here pronounces it Oregone but when I lived there it was Oreg-an.
    I try and teach the kids the right way to say things but their accents are so bad, it's hard sometimes. They live in the part of Maine with the real down east accent.
     
  34. eslmm

    eslmm New Member

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    thuh/thee

    I discovered the difference while teaching ESL. I teach my students that the word is actually "thee", but we frequently say "thuh". It's easy for them to understand, because Americans do this a lot. How often do you actually say "going to", not "gonna"? Unless of course you are in front of the classroom. Or "don't" instead of "don"? Which is where we got contractions in the first place.

    I can't remember where I read it, but I did read that the language of the colonies develops more slowly than that of the colonizing country. It would follow then that we sound more like the British of the 17th century than the present-day Brits do. Interesting, no?
     
  35. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Dialect or not, I am not DEAD. Hehe.
     
  36. srh

    srh Devotee

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    Dead, no.... funny, YES!
     
  37. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    The word that Mamacita was fishing for is probably brethren, the "churchly" plural of brother.

    Like kin terms in most languages of the world, brother is very basic vocabulary, which is to say it's been in the language for a looooong time. The most irregular words in a language can be the borrowed ones, but they're also quite likely to be words that have been around forever that everyone uses absolutely all the time.

    In fairly early Old English, a collection of dialects spoken between approximately AD 100 and AD 1100, the singular was broþor (that funny-looking symbol that looks like a p is called thorn, and it's a way of writing voiced th) and the plural was breþer - that's a stem-vowel change, along the same lines as goose/geese or foot/feet. That was one of the ways of forming plurals in Old English, and something like it accounts for mouse/mice (by way of Old English undiphthongized mus/mys, where the <y> symbol spells a vowel that we don't have any more that sounded like what happens if you say "eeee" and then round your lips for "oo" without moving your tongue.)

    Stem-vowel change also accounts for man/men and woman/women (we spell only the change in the second syllable, though the first syllable does exactly the same thing).

    Another, more regular way to form plurals in Old English was to add -r-, with or without a vowel. You can think of this -r- as Old English's version of plural -s. At that point, 'child' (which is also a very old word in English) was spelled cild, and the plural was the perfectly regular cildra.

    Fairly early in Middle English (approximately 1100-1500), people had sort of forgotten that -r- was a regular way to form plurals, partly because by that time English was using a different regular way to form plurals, and that was to add -n, as in oxen 'more than one ox' and shoon 'more than one shoe'. And it didn't help that words like breþer were plural because of stem vowel alternation while words like childer were plural because of the -r- suffix - that was a little confusing. So they started adding a suffix to breþer, along with the stem vowel alternation, and they started adding a suffix to childer along with the existing suffix. And that's why we have brethren and children.

    Whether there really IS Just One Standard Version Of American English, or whether we simply behave as though there were, is another matter entirely.
     
  38. Mamacita

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    There is a little town near here called Buddha, and a class of people here who call it "Boodie." Not to be cute, either; they think that's how it's pronounced.

    This thread reminds me of how L.M. Montgomery used to poke fun at uneducated people's pronunciation (I hate it when people say "pronounciation") in the Anne of Green Gables series, such as when Anne was telling some ladies that she and Gilbert were not taking a honeymoon and the ladies cluck clucked and said it was bad luck not to have a wedding tower. AAAAGH. This drives me crazy even in a book!!!!! I never liked those characters again.
     
  39. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    You are correct, TeacherGroupie, and I also loved the rest of your post.
     
  40. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Thanks, Mamacita.

    My error, though, on thorn (þ), which in fact was the symbol for unvoiced th: the symbol for voiced th was in fact ð, which is still in use in the International Phonetic Alphabet as the symbol for that sound.

    Harking back to a discussion elsewhere, thee 'you' is the objective form of the pronoun - the subjective form is thou. And thou and thee in Old English and early Middle English would have been pronounced with the same vowels as French/Spanish tu 'you (singular) subjective' and te 'you (singular) objective'. You itself originally meant 'you (plural) objective' - the subjective form was ye, as in Hear ye!
     
  41. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    In American English, we have no 'formal' pronouns any more except in the church; even the courts have done away with 'thee' and 'thou.' Most other countries still have formal pronouns, for one must never use the same pronouns when speaking of or to the King, etc, as to each other.

    The typical pronoun chart, divided into the three persons horizontally and number, vertically, have a blank vertical line down the middle, where the formal pronouns go in other languages.

    In the seventies, when the 'transformational grammar' trend was making its sordid and stupid rounds, students learned grammar via symbols instead of with words. It did work, IF the student already knew his/her grammar really well. And how many of those do we typically have in our classrooms? Sigh. I taught two classes of G/T daily back then and we had a blast with the symbols. I still use them. People with a knack for language really liked the concept, but those who were lacking, did not. We used them down in the lower grades all the way up to high school. I use them now for my remedial college students. They're at school now or I'd take a picture. I will, first chance I get.

    Those of you who dig word puzzles will love them.
     

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