In the song The Other Side MAX & Ty Dolla $ign pronounce the word "ten" as "teen" in the dialogue at the end of the song. Can anyone explain why?

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    It's not entirely unexpected from a band that punctuates and spells their name MAX & Ty Dolla $ign . . . (In other words, who knows? Maybe it rhymes—I haven't actually listened to it—or they just did it for some unstated effect.) – Jason Bassford Dec 6 '18 at 8:42
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    No one pronounces words the way they are sung. Singing out words is different from speech. – Kris Dec 6 '18 at 11:25
  • People do all sorts of weird things in songs, whether to fit meter, rhyme, or just to sound interesting. That 'ten' does sound a little like 'teen', but I couldn't find any other '-en' in the song to compare to see if it is consistent. Also one should check the singer's natural speaking (like in an interview) to see if they always do it. But even if this were a repeatable phenomenon, there's usually no 'why' to this, only a description of how they might always do it or are like some other people. – Mitch Dec 6 '18 at 20:12

I don't hear "teen". In any case, vowel sounds are often distorted somewhat in singing: see this paper for some detailed analysis. To me, it seems that the word is lengthened somewhat, which could contribute to the use of an altered vowel quality.

There is a known sound change that could theoretically be relevant here (the "pin-pen merger"; usually, speakers who use the same vowel sound in both words use a vowel closer to the vowel that unmerged speakers use in "pin"), but I don't think the pronunciation of this particular word is enough evidence to show that the speaker has this merger. In any case, the pen-pin merged vowel is still distinct from the /i/ vowel that is found in words like "teen".


The pronunciation in the video sounds like [ tʰɪən].

This is a feature of AAVE, the PIN-PEN merger: Quoting Wikipedia:

Pin–pen merger: Before nasal consonants (/m/, /n/, and /ŋ/), dress /ɛ/ and kit/ɪ/ are both pronounced like [ɪ~ɪə], making pen and pin homophones

To people whose dialect does not have the merger, or to non-native speakers, [tʰɪən] could certainly be mistaken for [ tʰijn], the common pronunciation of "teen".

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