I am trying to learn how to pronounce words like cotton, written, mountain. in general, the t, then n (between them will not be pronounced)

so i learned that i have to cut the t. in other words, make my tounle reach the top of my mouth, then i don't know what to do. should I say the n by releasing the air from my nose? or should I say the n by relaxing my teeth and not release any air from my nose?

  • As far as I can tell, both are possible. That's why some dictionaries include both alternatives. For example, Macmillan transcribes the pronunciation of written as /ˈrɪt(ə)n/. The /ə/ is optional. – Damkerng T. Feb 7 '15 at 11:09
  • @DamkerngT. but for me the voice is completely different between releasing the air from noise and not – Marco Dinatsoli Feb 7 '15 at 11:14
  • @DamkerngT. isn't there a way to know the best option? – Marco Dinatsoli Feb 7 '15 at 11:14
  • Does Noise in your title = nose? – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 7 '15 at 11:33
  • @TRomano yes sorry it is nose (the thing in the face) – Marco Dinatsoli Feb 7 '15 at 11:37

With your nostrils clamped tightly shut with your fingers, it is impossible to sound the second syllable of "cotton" and "written": you will feel the pressure in your ears if you try. So yes, there is air coming out through the nose on the second syllable.

Even if the word is pronounced rɪtn the nasal -n- still requires ventilation through the nose.

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  • ...there may be air coming out YOUR nose for those, but I get zip-all pressure in my ears when I say it with my nose pinched shut. It's all oral here. – A.Beth Feb 7 '15 at 21:32
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    Although you didn't indicate it specifically, you appear to have included a phonemic transcription in your answer. You can indicate this with forward slashes in the future, to avoid confusion. More helpful here would be a phonetic transcription, though, like [ɹɪʔn̩]. – snailplane Feb 7 '15 at 23:35
  • Those speaking with a British accent may markedly reduce the amount of nasally expelled air when speaking, even to the point of negligence or elimination. I do. – Esoteric Screen Name Feb 8 '15 at 0:53
  • @snailboat: your transcription appears on my screen as an upside-down lower-case 'r', an upper-case I, a question-mark, and an n, inside square brackets. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 8 '15 at 3:00
  • @TRomano It should, in fact, look quite similar to that. It's IPA. – snailplane Feb 8 '15 at 3:01

If you pronounce /ritn/ the n is longer, you pronounce the /n/ a bit longer than usual. I wouldn'be concerned about the airstream through the nose because that is totally automatic whether you want or not. You can't influence it in any way. So it is unnessary to study the air stream through the nose. - Added: When you produce an /n/ the tongue produces a total stop in the mouth cavity, so the air stream goes through the nasal passage automatically.

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