I speak General American English, and I pronounce voiced "th"'s in two different ways. The first, which is how I pronounce it in "the" and "father," feels somewhat like a stop; part of my tongue touches the roof of my mouth. The second way, which is how I pronounce it in "worthy" feels more like a "true" voiced dental fricative. Is this just an idiosyncrasy of mine?

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    It's well-known that some allophones of /ð/ can be plosives, affricates or something similar (see "The stop-like modification of /ð/: A case study in the analysis and handling of speech variation", by Sherry Y. Zhao (2007) ), but I haven't heard before of people noticing that they consistently use a stop-like allophone more often in the word "father" than in the word "worthy". Zhao says that the stop-like allophone seems to be most common when /ð/ follows a plosive, which suggests it can be the result of some kind of assimilation. Jan 5 '18 at 21:55
  • It's quite credible because of the retraction and tongue-bunching of ɹ in GAE: this would constrain a change of ð to d̪. So compare Zhao's findings and tell us more about where this happens.
    – user6726
    Jan 6 '18 at 18:32
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    @sumelic That seems like a good answer in and of itself
    – Draconis
    Jan 6 '18 at 23:07

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