keatonatron wrote:One similarity, I think, to what I'm trying to explain is the "R" and "L" problem. I have often heard it said that the Japanese "R" sound is more like a mixture of "R" and "L", and where it falls between the two depends on the speaker. Some people pronounce it just like the English "R", and some people even pronounce it very close to the English "L", but either way, Japanese speakers don't distinguish between the two and don't differentiate (that doesn't mean they can't hear the difference; it simply means nothing to them so they ignore it).
Now, does anyone agree with me this far?
No, I'm afraid not.So, if Japanese people can use both "R" and "L" for the same thing without noticing the difference (because it doesn't affect meaning one bit), what's to say they couldn't use both "s" and "th" without noticing a difference?
Still in agreement?
However, if you are talking about "s" and "th" sounds in English words, I agree with you.
But you are talking about "s" and "th" sounds in Japanese words, right? I should say your thesis is wrong. Don't you know that it's usually considered to be difficult to produce "th" sound by English learners in Japan? Unlike "R", Japanese "S" is not a mixture of "S" and "th".
If you'd like to talk about "s"(sea) and "sh"(shore) in Japanese, it depends on the words. In some words, we accept the difference. But in some words, they are not interchangeable.
If you go that far, then it's logical to say that a lisp, which is just using "th" instead of "s", would be noticed by Japanese people, even if they are not prodded.If you go that far, then it's logical to say that a lisp, which is just using "th" instead of "s", would not be noticed by Japanese people, even though it is noticed by us. I never said Japanese people can't hear a lisp, I said they don't notice it without some prodding.
The reason why they can't make out "th" sound in English words is that they automatically translate it into Japanese sound in their brains, which is "s". The "th" sounds in unfamiliar English words are unanticipated for their brains. But there is no reason for them to translate Japanese sound into Japanese sound. They always anticipate the proper sound in the word. Therefore, it's easy to catch the difference.