2

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

1
7

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.

3
  • 3
    Also, I'm pretty sure there are related questions on the site. I'm just not having a good search-fu kind of day. May 28 '20 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"). May 28 '20 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". May 28 '20 at 22:20

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.