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Teaching Spanish pronunciation
Teaching Spanish pronunciation

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3.1 Nasal assimilation

Nasals in pre-consonantal position, that is in syllable-coda (both within the word and across word-boundary), assimilate to the place of articulation of the following consonant. 

  • A nasal before a bilabial sound /p/ or /b/ is pronounced bilabial [m]; ambos (both), u[m] beso (a kiss).  It’s worth pointing out that the orthographic sequence -nv- also represents phonetic [mb] as in convertir [kombeɾˈtiɾ], invitar [imbiˈtaɾ].
  • Before labiodental f, the nasal becomes labiodental [ɱ] énfasis (emphasis).
  • Before dentals, the nasal is pronounced dental [n̪], cantar (to sing). It sounds very similar to alveolar n, but the tip of the tongue touches the back of the front teeth, just like when pronouncing [t] or [d]. 
  • Before palato-alveolars and palatals, the nasal is palatalised [nj]; anch(wide), nyuge (spouse). Note that it is not identical to the platal nasal ñ. (On the Sounds of Speechsite, this nasal is represented as [ň]). 
  • Before velars, we pronounce a velar nasal; [ŋ] – mang(sleeve), ángel (angel).
Preconsonantal nasal allophones. Source: Sounds of Speech
Figure _unit5.4.1 Preconsonantal nasal allophones. Source: Sounds of Speech main/ spanish [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]