The lyən is in phonetics of words like million and billion. And both lɪən and lyən are in the BRE and AME phonetics of Brazilian respectively.

I have been using lɪən sound. And I think they are different when pronounced slowly but are same in speech. Please help on these sound.

Clarification: I hear the word like million sound like alien. I mean the vowel sound is like Ian Fleming name. Is it true?

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    I think the main difference between the (standard) BrE and AmE pronunciations of the second syllable of "million" is in the "o" sound not the "i" sound. The British pronounce it more like a long "o" and we Americans more like a short "u", "mill-ee-ohn" vs. "mill-ee-un". But why ask here? Why not just listen to the samples: dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/million – Andrew Jan 30 '18 at 14:52
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    Over the past decade or so, in line with the increasing "internationalisation" of science and technology, I've noticed that an increasing number of British native speaker scientists now vocalise the /r/ in iron so as to distinguish it from ion. I guess they just gave up the unequal struggle when faced with blank looks from their international colleagues whenever they mention something like iron ions in discussions and lectures. But that's one context where BrE scientists aren't mainstream native speakers. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jan 30 '18 at 14:58
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    (Popular facetious definition: irony = ferrous :) – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jan 30 '18 at 15:02
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    I dunno, Andrew. Seems like a stretch to me. – Lambie Jan 30 '18 at 15:15
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    @Andrew, I don't know of any phonetical alphabet that would allege that "o" in "million" would actually be pronounced as "o". It is a shwa (ə) all the way. – tenebris2020 Jan 30 '18 at 15:50

There is no actual difference in pronunciation. You might have been confused by the different ways that you saw it written (different transcriptions) in a British dictionary and in an American dictionary. However, it's not because of any difference in pronunciation. It's just because there are different phonetic alphabets, so different signs might be used in them to represent things that are the same.

As the Wikipedia article on the International Phonetic alphabet states,

Many British dictionaries, including the Oxford English Dictionary and some learner's dictionaries such as the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary and the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary, now use the International Phonetic Alphabet to represent the pronunciation of words.[34] However, most American (and some British) volumes use one of a variety of pronunciation respelling systems, intended to be more comfortable for readers of English. For example, the respelling systems in many American dictionaries (such as Merriam-Webster) use ⟨y⟩ for IPA [j] and ⟨sh⟩ for IPA [ʃ], reflecting common representations of those sounds in written English,[35] using only letters of the English Roman alphabet and variations of them. (In IPA, [y] represents the sound of the French ⟨u⟩ (as in tu), and [sh] represents the pair of sounds in grasshopper.) You might have just seen different ways of representing the same sound.

Please pay attention to what I've marked in bold font in the above paragraph:

use ⟨y⟩ for IPA [j]

You might just be dealing with different phonetic alphabets in your example.

The specific way phonemes are pronounced can be wildly different not only in different dialects, but simply from one person to another. In fact, there is a linguistical term for a bulk of specific sounds that are different from one another if they were to be analyzed on a spectrograph, but they represent the same phoneme. These are called allophones. In fact, a phoneme is largely an abstraction. That is why, as was noted in comments to your question, it is just best to listen to how native speakers pronounce words and to try to imitate that. (Keeping in mind that native speakers will still pronounce things slightly different, irrespective of whether they are, say, British rather than American, or vice versa.)

Bottom line is, different ways of "writing phonetics" don't necessarily mean that there is an actual difference in ideal pronunciation. There are differences in real pronunciations, because phonemes are continuums of different sounds (allophones). But you should not build a theory out of it.

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  • Despite all technical phonological/phonetic transcription explanations, I do not hear any BrE/AmE difference in billion or million. And I listen to CNN and the BBC all the time. I don't hear the BBC presenters say it any differently than the CNN presenters, for example. – Lambie Jan 30 '18 at 15:51
  • @Lambie I do not see and hear any differences either. My understanding is that the OP was confused by the different ways that he saw it written (different transcriptions). And he then started hearing this into what he was listening to. This is what I tried to explain to him—that the different ways of "writing phonetics" don't necessarily mean that there is an actual difference in ideal pronunciation. However, since phonemes are continuums of different sounds (allophones), he might certainly have come across slightly different ways of pronouncing stuff. – tenebris2020 Jan 30 '18 at 15:57
  • Yes, I agree with your general idea but you didn't address the actual question i.e. that there is not difference in pronunciation here. – Lambie Jan 30 '18 at 16:03
  • @Lambie, I'll edit my post accordingly. – tenebris2020 Jan 30 '18 at 16:03
  • @Lambie, done. Put the gist in the very first paragraph. – tenebris2020 Jan 30 '18 at 16:06

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