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I've been noticing that sometimes when a t or d follows a final -n it becomes n. For instance, one friend (from Nanjing) pronounced 今天 Jīntiān as Jīntnian, and another (from Beijing) pronounced 运动 yùndòng as yùnnong. Searching around it seems others have noticed this too.

When in casual speech does this change occur? Since the neutral tone is prevalent in native Mainland Mandarin speakers how are homophones understood? Like 今天 vs 今年

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I think that a lot of these phenomenons that you are describing among the different questions you’ve asked recently and especially this one, have something to do with:

连读

This is similar to a liaison in linguistics. I’m not sure if this is, in actual fact, the correct term or not, but it is at least what a layman might call it.

This is a particularly northern way to speak. Some examples include:

  • 意思 = yisss / here 思 has its /s/ sound merged right into the of “yi”

  • 认识 = rensh / almost sounds like the English “wrench,” again the /i/ gets obliterated

I asked a similar question before here: Where can I find a list of (acceptable) 连读 words? You can have a look and see if it helps you any.

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  • I think I understand the examples you gave, because they are s, z, c, sh, zh, ch, or f, with an i or a u after a fourth tone, and there's also a similar case if these sounds along with x, q, j, or k with an i, u, or e have a third tone in the first syllable, but outside of that and with other consonants, I'm not sure – dinolingo Apr 9 '20 at 8:56
  • Thank you for the term "连读" as well. With regards to you other post, 连读 can happen when a final -ng comes before a vowel, w, or y. For example: 中央 = zhong (zhung) yang = zhuang, 公安 gong (gung) an = guan. At least around Beijing – dinolingo Apr 9 '20 at 9:00

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