More Thoughts on Pronunciation
A student asked me a very good question recently. It was about the difference in pronunciation between “weather” and “whether”. I explained that these two words, though they have completely different meanings and different spellings, are basically pronounced the same in English.
We then got to talking about similar pairs of words: which and witch, know and no, reign and rain, etc.
Most of these are really the same when it comes to pronunciation. There may be some regional differences, and these words probably were pronounced differently in the past, but like the Japanese sounds づ and ず, there is really no difference in modern speech.
My favorite example of this is “close” and “clothes”. These words may have a small difference between them when pronounced by some native speakers, but I don’t think any English learner needs to worry that much about pronunciation. The most important thing, in my opinion, is being understood.