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Is the middle "n" silent? Am I just not used to hearing it and can't identify it?

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That intermediate ん is still there. Really. When pronounced between two vowels, ん often causes nasality, without the speaker fully closing the airway -- so it doesn't sound like an English //n// or //ŋ//. Also, if you listen carefully and pay attention to the length of time it takes to say, ぜんいん is truly four morae (four beats), while ぜいん is only three.

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    Also, I'm pretty sure there are related questions on the site. I'm just not having a good search-fu kind of day. Commented May 28, 2020 at 21:41
  • Before the vowels i or e, it can also take on a bit of a "y" sound (while still also having a definite nasalization: still sounding like "n" but without touching the tongue to the roof), which happens with 全員 and also a word like 万円 (which I've always imagined probably led to the English translation of the 円 to be "yen"). Commented May 28, 2020 at 22:18
  • The effect is a lot like "final n" in French; or ã in Portuguese. Though I have heard some French speakers overdoing it when they speak Japanese - starting the nasalization early in the preceding vowel (as you would in French), rather than about at the mora where an n "would be". Commented May 28, 2020 at 22:20

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