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  1. Newbie
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    #1

    Changes to short 'e' vowel when before nasal consonants

    Hello all,

    I'm back to studying pronunciation formally at the moment. And I'm learning the vowel sounds.

    I've been watching videos on the short 'e' as in 'bed', 'set', 'wet', 'death', 'dead'. And I have no problem hearing 'eh' and I say it just fine.

    However, when this vowel is followed by n, m or ng, I don't hear 'eh' anymore and the people making the video lessons don't address this. Words such as 'men', 'many', 'friend', 'any' are what I'm refering to. As far as I can tell we don't say 'ehny', 'frehnd', there's a clear distinction when you compare with 'set' and 'wet'.

    I can pronounce 'any', and 'friend' if I do it naturally without saying 'eh', I just need an explanation on how this sound change is happening, if it happens with other vowels too(sorry, it's been over five years since I'd looked at an IPA chart).


    If anyone can shed some light on this it'd be much appreciated.

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    #2

    Re: Changes to short 'e' vowel when before nasal consonants

    I'm pretty sure I pronounce the e in "men" the same as the one in "bed". What kinds of accents are you listening to? Mine is from southwest Ohio, USA, with Appalachian and Mid-Atlantic influences.
    I am not a teacher.

  2. Newbie
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    #3

    Re: Changes to short 'e' vowel when before nasal consonants

    Thank you for your answer. I'm probably listening the wrong sounds.

    Could you take a look at this video, at around the 3:15 mark? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQXKSHcI7hI

    I can hear 'eh'(very open sound) in Leicester, deaf, dead, but I hear a different sound in friend, a more closed sound.

    This is the phonemic chart I was using, they represent this vowel as 'e', and to me it sounds very open 'eh'. https://www.englishclub.com/pronunci...c-chart-ia.htm

    I am having the same problem with a video from "Rachel's English" and she's american so I think it's not an accent thing.

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    #4

    Re: Changes to short 'e' vowel when before nasal consonants

    They all sound like /eh/ to me. It's perhaps a little shorter in "friend", cut off by the tongue touching the soft palate.
    I am not a teacher.

  3. Newbie
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    #5

    Re: Changes to short 'e' vowel when before nasal consonants

    Thanks for your answer.

    It's my ears that need more practice. Do you have any advice on how to get better at identifying sounds, specially vowels. I don't know if studying one by one is the best way. So far, besides this issue, I am completely unable to differentiate between cat and ket, man and men; only on learning videos, but not once in movies or similar.

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    #6

    Re: Changes to short 'e' vowel when before nasal consonants

    I can only advise what you're probably already doing: listen as much as possible.

    You're not alone in finding those vowels hard to distinguish. A Portuguese woman worked in an office I was consulting in. One day she started waving a sheet of paper and shouting "I found the sh!t!"

    Around the same time, a Russian immigrant befriended me. One day he asked what I thought of a woman who was helping him with his English. "She didn't help me at all. She couldn't teach me difference between ship and ship. (He meant "sheep".) New teacher explain it immediately!
    I am not a teacher.

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    #7

    Re: Changes to short 'e' vowel when before nasal consonants

    I AM NOT A TEACHER.

    Hello gowelln,

    English vowels have a tendency to be nasalized when they occur next to a nasal consonant (the degree of nasalization varies from accent to accent, person to person though).
    If you lower the soft palate (or velum) under the influence of an adjacent nasal consonant while articulating a vowel, air goes out not only through the oral cavity but also through the nasal cavity as well and it gives the vowel a distinctive nasalized quality, so the vowels of “pet” and “pen” are phonetically different (they belong to the same vowel phoneme though) and the same holds true for other English vowels.
    Maybe you are particularly sensitive to these sounds because your mother tongue (Portuguese) has nasal vowels in its vowel inventory.

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    #8

    Re: Changes to short 'e' vowel when before nasal consonants

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    I'm pretty sure I pronounce the e in "men" the same as the one in "bed".
    I do the same in British English.

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    #9

    Re: Changes to short 'e' vowel when before nasal consonants

    Thanks again for the answers. I'll keep practicing and trying to figure out these sounds.

    N Senbei, that's makes a lot of sense. Perhaps, the interference of sounds of portuguese is making me hear a larger distinction where there isn't much difference at all.

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