I very often study English and try to improve my listening skill with some educational materials. And I just encountered a sentence, "Once he made an alarm clock for cats – you know, to wake them up from their naps." However, the speaker speaks the last part of this sentence as follows, "tweiktheba^(p)from". That sounded very weird to me, since I thought she should've probably pronounced like "tweikthema^(p)from" in place of "ba". So I once sounded exactly like her and spoke it to the Google Translate app, and, surprisingly, it worked and translate b to m.

ex. I will wake them up from their naps.


So my question is that do native English speakers sometimes pronounce b as m?

  • 5
    Surely that is pronouncing m as b? It's usually thought of as the way you speak when you have a cold in the head (a blocked nose). – Kate Bunting Jul 26 '20 at 7:54
  • I think there is a clue to the speaker's accent in ex. I will wake them up from their naps. > aiwoweiktheba^from The speaker uses a "dark L" in "will". The rest of the transliteration sounds somewhat nasal. So to answer your question: "Probably and in some accents, but it is not standard." – Greybeard Jul 26 '20 at 9:06
  • @KateBunting I just looked up on the blocked nose and a nasal problem real quick and found that it kind of makes sense. I myself repeated the sentence to get to the point where I notice the subtle difference between [m] and [b], feeling (or perhaps trying to feel) my nose vibrated a little bit while speaking. For conversations, this is quite tricky to me though. Thanks for your comment. – taro Jul 26 '20 at 9:35
  • @Greybeard I've never heard of the dark L before. I looked up for it and the images of it gave me an idea of understanding how both [m] and [b] work altogether and sound like. Thanks for your comment! – taro Jul 26 '20 at 9:43
  • I seem to remember the classic sentence in 'cold-English' in comics is 'Thag you very buch'. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 26 '20 at 15:35

it’s possible that the speakers words just slurred together. There are instances where a b is silent when paired with an m like in the words “thumb” or “lamb” but in the example you provided it should just be pronounced with an m.

  • I know this case that I provided seems to be an exemption, and now I got to know this is not a standard way of pronouncing m, though it sounds like b. Thanks for your answer! – taro Jul 26 '20 at 9:27

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