• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show full table of contents
The nasal /n/
quickinfo

Features
A possible feature specification of  /n/ is +sonorant, -labial, +coronal, -velar, +nasal.

Phonotactic behaviour
/n/ can occur in onset clusters of one or two consonants, such as in 1a, 1b and 1c, respectively. Furthermore, it can occur in simple codas like in 2a and in complex codas, such as in 2b and 2c. Exceptionally, /n/ can occur in clusters after a long vowel, like in 2d.

Example 1

Onset
a. neem take
b. snel quick
c. knaap guy
Example 2

Coda
a. been leg
b. hand hand
c. kern core
d. hoorn horn

/n/-deletion
After schwa, /n/ can be deleted optionally (but rather pervasively) in the standard language; e.g. [lopə] and [lopən] count as equally acceptable pronunciations for the verb lopento walk. In some varieties, it can also be inserted loopte ie[lopteniː]walked he.

Sensitivity to place assimilation
/n/ tends to assimilate in place to a following consonant. The strength of this tendency depends on the morphosyntactic ‘distance’ of the following consonant. If /n/ is part of a level I prefix, assimilation is obligatory ( *impopulairimpopular), if it is part of a level II prefix or an independent stem, it is optional, as the examples under 3 show. Across word boundaries, the assimilation also occurs, but less regularly (see below under 4 and 5 and topic about processes in Casual Speech).

Example 3

a. inparkeren i [np] [mp] arkeren to park
b. tuinkabouter tui [nk] [ŋ] abouter garden gnome

More detail
/n/ displays pharyngealisation when preceded by back vowels (Collins and Mees 2003:196). /n/ frequently undergoes place assimilation when followed by consonants at bilabial, labiodental, palatal or velar place of assimilation. The overlap between the place of articulation of the consonant and the nasal may be partial or complete. Examples of such cases are given in 4.

Example 4

a. in Parijs [mp] in Paris
b. in Frankrijk [ɱf] in France
c. in Japan [ɳj] in Japan
d. in Canada [ŋk] in Canada

/n/ is frequently elided in casual or rapid speech. The elision may be partial, for instance by leaving a trace of nasalisation on a preceding vowel, or complete (Collins and Mees 2003:196).

Example 5

a. kan je [k̃ɑjə] can you
b. kunnen [ˈkʏnə] can
readmore
[+] Articulatory information

Dutch /n/ is a voicedalveolarnasal. It is subject to some degree of variation, largely because of phonological processes such as assimilation and deletion.

Alveolar
Speech sounds produced at alveolar place of articulation, between dental and palatal. See the human speech organs.

Nasal
Speech sounds produced with a simultaneous oral closure and a lowered velum, allowing air to escape through the nose. See the the human speech organs.


Figure 1: The human speech organs

[click image to enlarge]

[+] Acoustic properties of /n/

Dutch /n/ is a voiced alveolar nasal.

Alveolar
  • in obstruents, noise or noise bursts characterised by a spectral peak around 1800 Hz, with formant transitions into vowels coming from around that region
  • in nasals, indicated by the presence of a spectral peak around 500 Hz and a spectral valley around 1 kHz.

Nasal
  • consonant involving low-amplitude, vowel-like periodicity. Typically characterised on a spectrogram by the presence of antiformants (spectral valleys).

[+] Examples

Table 1: Soundfiles, waveforms and spectrograms of the above sound files, with indications of the relevant acoustic parameters of Northern Standard Dutch /n/
wordgroup phonological context sound waveform/spectogramme
nu gauw naar binnennow soon inside word-initial
[click image to enlarge]
verder kunnen lezencan read further intervocalic
[click image to enlarge]

Table 2: Soundfiles, waveforms and spectrograms of the above sound files, with indications of the relevant acoustic parameters of Southern Standard Dutch /n/
wordgroup phonological context sound waveform/spectogramme
en nu ligt Anna alleen in Transitand now Anna lies alone in Transit word-initial
[click image to enlarge]
we kunnen hier niet langer in de bergen blijvenwe cannot stay longer here in the mountains intervocalic
[click image to enlarge]
References:
  • Collins, B. & Mees, I2003The Phonetics of English and DutchLeidenE.J. Brill
  • Collins, B. & Mees, I2003The Phonetics of English and DutchLeidenE.J. Brill
Suggestions for further reading ▼
phonology
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show more ▼
morphology
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
        Show more ▼
        syntax
        • Dutch
        • Frisian
        • Afrikaans
            Show more ▼
            cite
            print