I just noticed that usually when I say 'ridden' or sometimes 'written', I don't let the air escape around my tongue as 'duh' or 'tuh' but instead keep it sealed and do something at back of my nose to let it escape suddenly to say 'dn' or 'tn'. (I can say these bits with my mouth fully closed.)

I'm pretty sure I'm not using the back of my tongue for this - I can still do it if I poke my tongue fully out and bite it to keep it out. It also feels higher up than a glottal stop.

What are these called? I looked up nasal consonants, and only found ng, n, and m.

1 Answer 1


There are two terms for this. One is "syllabic nasal", as in [ɹɪdn̩] "ridden", also in some pronunciations [n̩nɔi] "annoy". The second is "nasal release", which is a description of the preceding stop /d/, i.e. [ɹɪdⁿ] where /d/ changes and /n/ disappears. Since this is the phonetic realization of /ən/, we generally refer to it as a syllabic nasal. Plus, "written" is in some US dialects pronounced [ɹɪʔn̩] with glottal stop, but *[ɹɪʔⁿ] is a misleading transcription since "nasal release" is one segment and one place of articulation, but /...tən/ is phonetically at two places of articulation, i.e. perhaps "preglottalized n", [ɹɪˀn], which complicates the analysis.

  • Awesome, thanks. I'm a southern British speaker, and there's definitely a t-sounding noise so it's not just a cockney wri'uhn (which I also do sometimes). I was curious what I'm actually using at the back of my nose though - my palate? Mar 7, 2023 at 0:30
  • When you raise and lower the velum, air is blocked or not blocked (respectively) from flowing through the nasal passages, and you can feel it on your soft palate.
    – user6726
    Mar 7, 2023 at 0:40
  • Nice! Thanks so much! Mar 7, 2023 at 8:20

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