How should in an instant be spoken?

  1. [ɪ nə nɪn.stənt]

  2. [ɪn nən nɪn.stənt]

If we use second version, then we append [n] before [ən] and before [n.stənt].

How do I correctly link words together when speaking English naturally?

  • When you're speaking English, you don't pause between words or syllables. (There are consonants like /t/, /k/, /p/ which are pronounced differently when they're syllable-initial and syllable-final, but /n/ isn't one of them.) So how exactly how does /ɪnənɪnstənt/ differ from /ɪnnənnɪnstənt/? Jan 21 '15 at 13:23
  • 1
    @PeterShor The IPA itself (I'm not sure about the intention behind it) would indicate the same difference as between (1) see no and (2) seen no. Aug 2 '15 at 15:44

To speak American English most naturally, at least for dialects I'm familiar with, don't link consonants. Word final consonants before a vowel of a following word will be syllable final if there is no linking, but they will be syllable initial if there is linking. Generally, syllable final consonants are weakened, while syllable initial consonants are strengthened. In English, these final consonants are weakened, which tells us that they are syllable final, so we know there has been no linking. Linking prevents weakening.

There are a number of examples of weakening word final consonants before a vowel beginning a following word. The most well known and widespread is flapping of t/d/n after a vowel or glide.

  • Lots of excellent points. Source?
    – Kris
    Jan 21 '15 at 7:23
  • @ Greg, so 1 or 2? which one is correct?
    – Tom
    Jan 21 '15 at 12:30
  • @user105551: What exactly is the difference between 1 and 2? In English, "a notion", and "an ocean" are pronounced the same; you can't tell which syllable the /n/ belongs to. Jan 21 '15 at 13:57
  • The example "a notion" and "an ocean" may perhaps be pronounced the same sometimes, but "an ocean" has a pronunciation variant (for dialects which flap) with a nasal flap substituted for "n". That's because the first "n" of "an ocean" is at the end of a syllable while the first "n" of "a notion" is at the beginning of a syllable.
    – Greg Lee
    Jan 22 '15 at 0:52
  • user105551, I don't think either 1 or 2 is possible, but 1 is close. I would say the first two "n"s in 1 as flaps, not "n"s, in normal connected speech.
    – Greg Lee
    Jan 22 '15 at 0:58

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