I often hear how people from the United States pronounce "twenty" as "twonny" in movies, etc. Why? Is this an alternative pronunciation?

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    Hugely related and probably a duplicate: english.stackexchange.com/questions/96576/… – Andrew Leach Feb 2 '13 at 9:58
  • How can it be a duplicate? That guy asks about another pronunciation – szx Feb 2 '13 at 12:42
  • Do you mean "twonny" to rhyme with "money", "pony", "tawny", "Lonnie", or "Suwannee"? – Peter Shor Feb 2 '13 at 12:57
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    @szx: "want" rhyming with "hunt" or "want" rhyming with "avant" or maybe "want" rhyming with "font"? There are enough regional variations of American English that spelling things without using phonetic symbols is very confusing. – Peter Shor Feb 2 '13 at 14:08
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    @tchrist: I don't know that anybody rhymes twenty with anything but penny or plenty, but in some places, like Chicago, they pronounce all of twenty, penny and plenty funny. – Peter Shor Feb 2 '13 at 14:15

I'm not a native speaker but I've been learning mostly American English for a long time now and the so-called flapped t is widely used by American English speakers in fluent speech.

That's probably what szx heard. So twenty becomes \'twɛni\ to rhyme with 'penny'. But my guess is that in really fast speech it can even become more like tw'nny resulting in something like \'twɐni\ or \'twʌni\ which can probably be transcribed as 'twonny'.

The Oxford Advanced American Dictionary:

twenty number/ˈtwɛnti; ˈtwɛni; ˈtwʌni/

For more information on 'flapped t' refer to Wikipedia:

The cluster [nt] can also be flapped/tapped; the IPA symbol for a nasal tap is [ɾ̃]. As a result, in quick speech, words like winner and winter can become homophonous.


It's possibly a combination of the accent in some parts, though I don't know offhand where those places would be, and local 'shorthand' type pronunciations. As long as you recognise it as twenty though, in the context of the movie, there shouldn't be a problem.

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