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I think I naturally distinguish these words:

mine (ie "belongs to me")
/maiŋ/

mine (ie "explosive" or "coal mine")
/main/

I vaguely remember noticing this years ago, but I was only just reminded of it by my German boyfriend, who noticed me saying /maiŋ/ in some natural sentence, and pointed it out to me, thinking I was making a deliberate joke-pronunciation.

And I'm pretty sure I naturally use /main/ for the explosive/industrial site meaning, although now that I'm watching my own speech I obviously can't be completely sure that's my unmonitored pronunciation, of course. I feel like /ˈmaɪŋswiːpəɹ/ would sound ridiculous to me.

Is this a known distinction in any dialect? (I'm from British Columbia lower-mainland/Vancouver Island. ie, I've never heard anybody do that "Canadian raising" thing they supposedly have up north.)

  • I think possessive "mine" definitely has hints of "my" in it and is more nasal than "might" or "mile" for example. I can detect what you're observing in my own speech. Chicago, so within ca 10° longitude of your home if that means anything for similarity of pronunciation. Probably not. – 1252748 Jan 9 '15 at 2:18
  • I definitely use a nasalized vowels in clitics -- "can't" is /kæ̃/, for instance ("can" is /kn̩/) -- but this is a velar nasal consonant, without any more nasalization of the vowel than in the "working in a mine" sense... – Owen_R Jan 9 '15 at 2:48
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    So if you're struggling with the pronunciation, would you call that Mein Kampf? – Brian Hitchcock Jan 12 '15 at 12:24
  • instantrimshot.com/classic/?sound=rimshot No seriously though does anyone else pronounce these differently? – Owen_R Jan 18 '15 at 13:02
  • Okay, I've gone through, like, two dozen sentences with "mine" in them. No changes to the word even when I was pretending to be a super possessive nutjob. "My mines! That mine is mine! I'll mine and mine for my mines because my mines are mine!" I'm from the Eastern parts of Australia if that makes a difference. – Julia Sep 25 '15 at 9:20
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I've never heard any British English speaker use a nasal pronunciation.

I have heard speakers from some regions in England (for example, parts of Essex and also rural parts of the West Midlands) sometimes lengthen the dipthong and add a /j/ (making it something like /ma:ijn/, with various vowel qualities depending on the region) after it when saying "mine" in the sense of "belonging to me", apparently for emphasis. In extreme cases I've heard a marginal schva before the n so that it almost sounds like two syllables.

I haven't heard the same speakers refer to land mines so I can't say whether there's a difference.

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    I assume you mean "I've never heard any British English speaker use a pronunciation with the velar nasal?" – sumelic Sep 25 '15 at 8:41

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