Pronouncing ん

This might be really stupid but I’m sort of having a hard time pronouncing ん where ever it’s placed. I learned before it’s pronounced as an N sound but then I read if it is followed by a vowel or at the end, ん indicates that the preceding vowel is long and nasalized. Then I heard some audio clips and they sound different

Ex: 恋愛 (れんあい)
れ is supposed to be pronounced “ long and nasalized” Reeai
but when I hear the clips I hear reNGai or reNai
Am I hearing it wrong?

Sorry, I hope the question makes sense, I tried to word it the best way I can.

2 Likes

You’re not wrong, in those cases it does tend to be a more nasally extension of the vowel. However, what you’re hearing on the audio is what that actually sounds like quite often in Japanese. The important thing is you understand it’s (in this case) more like the N in “song” in English, than the N which is placed at the front of the oral cavity on the roof of your mouth. It’s honestly one of the harder pronunciations to learn, and I myself still struggle with ん’s that come before anything from the ら row (らりるれろ).

It’s something you’ll get better at over time, but if you’re interested in more detailed info about pronunciation, I highly recommend you check out Dogen on Youtube/Patreon. He’s got some great videos on the rules of pronunciation.

4 Likes

I forget which dialect it is, but there is a major dialect where they pronounce ん like ng. So, it’s not wrong, but it’s not the only way to say it either.

I don’t really recall anything like that, but it sounds like the multiple pronunciations of the が row sounds, which can be a hard or nasal “g” in standard Japanese depending on where they are in the word, and other factors. It wasn’t that, was it?

1 Like

I did notice with 恋愛 that it sounds a bit like れんがい with a nasal ‘g’. For reference: https://www.wanikani.com/vocabulary/恋愛

I’m still having issues with ん before あ い う え お myself so I’m sure I’m mishearing it.

1 Like

Assuming this is a dialect thing causing the disparities, it could be Tohoku? That’s where I live and when I go listen to the vocab audio for words with ん followed by a vowel, that speech pattern is pretty consistent and at least to me, it doesn’t sound abnormal.

Edit: this was supposed to be a reply to @Darcinon, but I’m on mobile and evidently screwed that up.

Aye, ん before あ-line characters can sometimes be squished into a sort of Y-sound, simply because it saves on lip-flaps. So, 千円 is usually pronounced something like “sei-en” or even “se-yen”, 原因 is “gei-in” or “ge-yin”, and so forth.

3 Likes

@Houndstooth thanks I’ll check out his videos Hopefully he has a video about this. @Leebo
You’re right. When hearing it, It sounds like it follows the same rule of thumb when pronouncing ん when placed in front of “g” sounds. Like an ng sound

Maybe what I said wasn’t clear. I was asking if Darcinon was mistaken in remembering the whole thing with the が pronunciation. Maybe it’s just that I’ve never heard of someone saying ん sounds like ng.

1 Like

I’ve thought of that and I’ve heard it in those words. It should be pronounced rei-ai then. I may just need more exposure to the sound cause I keep hearing an ng sound in 恋愛

Oh, you’re right, I was thinking of g sounding like ng.

If you just say rei-ai I don’t think that will sound right, you have to kind of close your throat too. To me, the nasally n sounds like a blend of i/y and the n from ng. It has also been compared to the French n.

Side note, I’ve noticed that えん often sounds like “yen” because so many numbers end with ん (or い) - 千円、一万円、三円(一円、二円、etc.)

2 Likes

Here are some short videos about the different pronunciations of ん.

2 Likes