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.

  • 1
    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

[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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