In American English fast speech, I observed that the 'n' sound in certain words containing -rn- consonant clusters such as 'learning' and 'burning' appear to be pronounced as a voiced retroflex nasal [ɳ] rather than a voiced alveolar nasal [n], thus yielding [ˈlɝɳɪŋ] instead of [ˈlɝnɪŋ] in the case of 'learning'. I would like to know if this is a recognized phenomenon.

  • @Lambie why would English have trill r-sound [r]?
    – AehkGuu
    Commented Apr 4 at 14:44
  • Presumably you need to consult "the open Carnegie Mellon University Pronouncing Dictionary" for the meaning of [r] used here.
    – GEdgar
    Commented Apr 4 at 14:58
  • Apologies for the misinterpretation. However, I think the phonetic transcription is too broad and unreliable.
    – AehkGuu
    Commented Apr 4 at 15:43
  • 2
    @AehkGuu Unfortunately, despite that website's name, it's actually producing phonemic transcriptions, not phonetic ones.
    – alphabet
    Commented Apr 4 at 16:24
  • 1
    @Lambie As that website's FAQ notes, it's actually providing phonemic transcriptions, not phonetic ones. Why the website is named "To Phonetics" I do not know.
    – alphabet
    Commented Apr 4 at 16:31

1 Answer 1


Yes, this is a recognized phenomenon. There was a related question I answered a while back about how, in American English, a flapped /d/ after /r/ can become a retroflex flap [ɽ]. Since /n/ can also undergo flapping, the same phenomenon occurs, making a nasal retroflex flap [ɽ̃].

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