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As a native British English speaker I often notice what seems to be an omission of the "t" sound by American speakers when the letter follows an "n".

Examples:

Interview ---> Innerview

Internet ---> Innernet

Questions

Do U.S. speakers hear it the same way as I do or am I missing a very subtle sound?

Does this pronunciation vary a lot across the States?

Is there an obvious explanation?

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As an American I can tell you that in some cases the t isn't pronounced. one case is that it's simply a slang way of saying those words. another case is that it can happen when a person is speaking more quickly. Speaking quickly can make words roll off the tongue more smoothly. t is not a very smooth sound, so it gets smoothed out. This can happen anywhere in the United States.

  • Thanks - for some reason it doesn't happen this way in British English. It doesn't matter how fast we speak or how educated we are, we still pronounce it fully. The only exception would be the Cockney-type change from a 't' to a glottal stop although that happens elsewhere as well, not just after 'n'. – chasly from UK Jan 31 at 17:38
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    Welcome to EL&U. Stack Exchange seeks to provide definitive answers; please edit your post to include appropriate support— for example, can you provide examples of words where this phenomenon occurs and where it does not? On a similar note, please be careful with terminology— slang applies to vocabulary and diction/register, not phonemics — and use standard orthography for the benefit of future visitors. I strongly encourage you to take the site tour and review the help center for additional guidance. – choster Jan 31 at 18:22
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The sound is actually realised as an alveolar flap [ɾ] rather than not pronounced at all, so Americans would consider the sounds produced by the words inner [ˈɪnəɹ̠] and "inter" from the word internet [ˈɪɾ̃əɹ̠ˌnɛt] to be two different ones. You can see the same process in words without the "nt" letters: butter [ˈbʌɾəɹ̠], party [ˈpɑɹ̠ɾi], loader [ˈloʊɾəɹ̠], etc.

The phenomenon is called flapping, and there is a Wikipedia article that thoroughly addresses this topic. Apart from the feature being prevalent in southern American accents, it's usually a choice among other Americans regardless of location from what I've experienced.

  • In the process of replacing the [t]'s with [ɾ]'s, I guess I forgot to scrutinise the producibility of the [nɾ] sound which is actually realised as a nasal flap [ɾ̃]. The main point is that it is definitely distinguishable from the sound produced from the word "inner". I've updated it accordingly. – getsnoopy Feb 2 at 2:14
  • You're using [r] in your transcription, but that’s a full, multiply-tapped/trilled rhotic, a sound virtually unheard in Englishes outside of Scotland and certainly entirely absent in all dialects of American English. You will want to use sounds like [ɚ] for [ˈbʌɾɚ] or [ˈɪnɚ] or [ˈlo(ʊ)ɾɚ], [ɑ˞] for [ˈpɑ˞ɾi], and [ɻ] for words like ruler [ˈɻulɚ]. – tchrist Feb 2 at 2:44
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    Fair enough. I've read that the the /r/ phoneme is conventionally transcribed as such even though it's commonly realised as an post-alveolar approximant, but for the sake of correctness, I've updated it. – getsnoopy Feb 11 at 1:09

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