I'd like to know the steps that lead to the pronunciation of monitoring as /'mɑnəɹɪŋ/.

min 0:44 in the following video


  • 1
    Vowel length and nasality are important to capture if you're gonna try to represent fast speech variants phonetically. The /a/ should be long and nasalized; in addition, the /n/ is flapped. Aug 17, 2017 at 21:20

1 Answer 1


Actually, I do feel like I hear a consonant before the [ɹ], but I can't offer more evidence than my ears because of a combination of lack of phonetics knowledge and laziness (I'm not going to try to analyze a spectrogram, because I don't know much about how to and I'm not going to study it just to post an answer to this question).

The phone [ɾ], present in standard accents of American English as conditioned allophone of /t/ and /d/, has a relatively "weak" articulation; while this does mean that it can sometimes be elided entirely (but still heard by most listeners due to the "phonemic restoration effect"), it might also mean that you've just missed hearing it when it was actually phonetically present. I would guess that the closely following [ɹ] (also a relatively "weakly" articulated sound) could maybe also have some kind of masking effect.

I would transcribe the utterance as one of the following: ['mɑnəɾɹɪŋ], ['mɑnɪɾɹɪŋ], ['mɑnəɾɹ̩ɪŋ], ['mɑnɪɾɹ̩ɪŋ] (Actually, there's something else that John Lawler mentioned in a comment that I forgot about: rather than [n] (a nasal stop), technically the second consonant may be a nasal tap/flap, usually transcribed [ɾ̃].)

['mɑnəɾɹ̩]~['mɑnɪɾɹ̩] is a standard strong pronunciation of the verb "monitor" in American English, so it doesn't take much to get to ['mɑnəɾɹɪŋ], just de-syllabification of the syllabic resonant [ɹ̩].

It's standard for original /t/ to be realized as [ɾ] in this context (intervocalic, directly following a stressed vowel and directly preceding a reduced vowel). See Wikipedia on flapping.

It's standard for original "weak" /ɪ/ to be realized as [ə] in American English; more precisely, it tends to be realized as the higher allophone of schwa, rather than the lower allophone that is usual word-finally (see Exodus word pronounciation - Why it is different from spelling for more detailed discussion of this). However, some American English speakers do feel like they don't fully have this merger, or that the merged vowel is better transcribed as [ɪ] or [ɨ]. See Wikipedia on the weak vowel merger.

  • I don't know how that's not just plain ['mɑnətɹiŋ] here. That's sure what it sounds like to me.
    – tchrist
    Aug 17, 2017 at 19:49
  • @tchrist: Well, I didn't hear a voiceless plosive, but it's possible that there was a brief one.
    – herisson
    Aug 17, 2017 at 20:18
  • Thnx. The issue here is ɾ̃ vs n, yet I seem to hear exactly the one I am thinking of right at the moment
    – GJC
    Aug 18, 2017 at 0:27

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