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Cut to the chase: While listening to the record 2.0 Boys by Slaughterhouse I've noticed that Joell Ortiz and Joe Budden pronounce such sequence of sounds — namely "I don't know" around 1:55 and "I don't need" in 3:21, respectively — as indicated.

Could somebody clarify the issue technically, in phonetic terms?

You can hear the song here.

closed as unclear what you're asking by Matt E. Эллен, Robusto, Marthaª, Kristina Lopez, Rory Alsop Dec 16 '13 at 19:02

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    Nice song... I gave up after 1.30 minute. Could you please identity the exact time when they sing or rap the words? – Mari-Lou A Dec 16 '13 at 10:24
  • When people sing, they tend to elongate vowels, and consonant sounds are often elided. (You wouldn't be asking this question if you listened to Nat King Cole or Frank Sinatra :)) I'm sure someone will provide a more technical answer than my measly comment. Good luck! – Mari-Lou A Dec 16 '13 at 10:44
  • @Mari, but you will hear this if listening to someone like Etta James: “[aʊn] want you to work all day” etc. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 16 '13 at 11:09
  • @JanusBahsJacquet no doubt, and she'll be singing too, not speaking. In any case, phonetics is not my forte. You're better suited to answer the OP. – Mari-Lou A Dec 16 '13 at 11:21
  • For those who think the question is unclear I must say, seriously, that plain labeling it just as such does not clarify where the ambiguity lies. Cheers! – GJC Dec 18 '13 at 6:20
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[Firstly, please excuse the lazy IPA: I'm writing this on my phone, and sadly IPA input is not possible.]

There are two things that conspire to make this happen, both quite normal processes in standard speech with its slurriness and tendency to be lazy wherever possible:

  1. The diphthong /aɪ̯/ for ‘I’ is reduced to a monophthong /a/, particularly in an unstressed position (which it usually is as the subject of a clause).

  2. The alveolar stop /d/ is reduced to an alveolar flap /ɾ/ intervocalically, and in pretonic position (i.e., right before a stressed or semi-stressed syllable), this flap can be weakened further to the point of deletion. Intervocalic ‹nt› is usually reduced to a nasalised version of the same flap, while ‹nt› before most consonants mostly gets reduced to /ʔn/ (where ‘ʔ’ signifies a type of glottal stop-like consonant, or simply a creaky phonation of the preceding consonant; this is then optionally lost entirely in fast speech).

The result is that you get a monophthong directly followed by a diphthong, and it is quite natural to simply swish those two together into a single diphthong.

So you get a development that goes something like /aɪ̯ doʊn(t)/ => /a doʊʔn/ => /a ɾoʊn/ => /a oʊn/ => /aʊn/ or /aon/.

  • That is the theoretical derivation I've also come up with; the thing is that I haven't found it mentioned in any academic resource. BTW, does anyone know about something as weird as this happening in AmE, which is not reflected in any article? Cheers! – GJC Dec 16 '13 at 12:23
  • Do you mean you haven’t found this particular combination of staccato pronunciations mentioned? I’m not really surprised at that. I have certainly seen the second of these changes mentioned many places (it is described on the Wikipedia page on English phonolog, for example). I don’t recall seeing the first mentioned as such, but pronouns are almost regularly reduced cross-linguistically, so it is utterly unremarkable. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 16 '13 at 12:36
  • you don't want it with me; /joun/; youtu.be/36RoWtpapXU?t=4m25s – GJC Dec 19 '13 at 6:44

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