I'm playing the pronunciation over and over again but I cannot say it myself: Is the word new in British English and similar ones pronounced as [nyu], like the word meow, or is it pronounced like [ñu:] with the spanish ñ or Czech and Turmen ň?

In other words, is the n pronounced with the mouth positioned like in the pronunciation of normal n (like in nail) or is it positioned like in the pronunciation of y?

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    Questions of pronunciation are not generally allowed on this site, because there is so much variation between different regions and dialects. You'd have to first specify which region/dialect you want to sound like -- "standard" British, "standard" American, Australian, American South, New York City, London "cockney", Ireland, Scotland, etc. etc. Believe it or not all of these do pronounce "new" differently. – Andrew Dec 19 '16 at 20:22
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    @Andrew Pronunciation is on-topic. See the What topics can I ask about here?. – Mick Dec 19 '16 at 20:47
  • The Cambridge Dictionary is good for pronunciation, both for BrE and AmE. – Mick Dec 19 '16 at 20:48
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    @Andrew, Mick, no, no, no! Pronunciation is super on-topic here. Downvoting questions about pronunciation because accents exist is silly. There are varieties of AmE and BrE pronunciation which are standardly taught to learners. These questions are generally on-topic and answerable. – snailcar Dec 19 '16 at 21:18
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    This question asks about phonetics, and the phonemic transcriptions in dictionaries alone are insufficient to answer it. If it is closed with "entirely answerable by a dictionary", I will reopen it. – snailcar Dec 19 '16 at 21:21

To an English-speaking ear, these two variants (consonant sequence ny versus palatalised ñ) sound identical. In fact, your question is probably incomprehensible to most monolingual English speakers.

For myself (British English), I pronounce it as a palatalised ñ. But either variant is fine, and nobody will notice the difference.

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  • in fact, I'd say ñ is "palatal", not "palatalized" – sumelic Dec 20 '16 at 1:40

In BrE, new is pronounced with a /y/ sound: "nyew". In AmE, it is "noo".

new [adjective] uk ​ /njuː/ us ​ /nuː/

Cambridge Dictionary

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  • And in Australian it can sound more like "nee" or "neah". youtube.com/watch?v=AdnYuQ80tKk – Andrew Dec 19 '16 at 21:02
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    There are many Americans who say nju (and njus for news), myself being one of them. I am actually quite surprised to see nu given as the prevalent pronunciation, though this is the case in American dictionaries as well. FWIW, while I also distinguish between duel and dual (djuəl and duəl) when most don't, I do say tʃus and sut for chews and suit. – choster Dec 19 '16 at 23:14
  • Cambridge is pretty reliable for their British RP recordings. I am never too sure about their AmE versions. – Mick Dec 19 '16 at 23:25
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    I think this is not as good as TonyK's answer because, as explained there, there are actually multiple ways this can be realized phonetically. A dictionary gives a phonemic transcription, which doesn't fully answer the question since [nyu] and [ñu:] are phonemically equivalent. – sumelic Dec 20 '16 at 5:54

I want to add my 5 cents to the previous answers as this is the first result on this question from Google.

The right symbol there is /ɲ/, see. That's the sound for Czech/Slovak ň, Polish ń, Spanish ň, Italian gn, Rusian нь and so on. According to the previous link, the sound is not present in English and you don't find it in a dictionary neither as far as I know.

Therefore, I wouldn't trust answer of English native speaker on this topic as they don't have ň, so they can't really tell difference between n /n/ and ň /ɲ/ :-)

According to pronunciation of knew homophone Wiktionary Americans tends to say /n(j)uː/, while Britons /ɲ(j)uː/. I think British pronunciation is actually result of relaxed pronunciation – when you try to pronounce /nju:/ neglectfully, you actually merge n and j and result is /ɲuː/.

note: Please, notice that ɲ symbol is actually combination of letter n and j, for an obvious reason.

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  • The palatal nasal does occur in English. Canyon. Of course it depends on the dialect and personal rendition. Btw I am curious how this consonant is executed at the end of a word in other languages, say Czech. I can't figure out how to pronounce kůň and the audio Wiktionary has for this word is not clear. – Eddie Kal Dec 3 '19 at 0:19
  • That's /kænjən/ according to various sources, but original word is cañon from Spanish. So maybe Hispanic Americans say that this way. I think the audio is okay. Can u say ň alone (without any surrounding vowel)? You can say ků and then cut it by pronouncing ň. – Velda Dec 3 '19 at 11:49

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