Een and en
I have a question on the pronunciation of these two words. My instinct on reading the words is een as in been and en as in end (British English pronunciation). But on listening to the audios een is not pronounced like that.
So I'd be grateful if someone could clear up how these two words are pronounced.
I think you are right about "en".
For "een", it is never pronounced as in "been" however. There are two possible readings :
- When used as indefinite article (een man), it's a bit like the "an" in "an hour"
- When used a numeral (more often written as één), it's a bit like "ane" in "lane"
I should note that I am a Flemish speaker, but I think that part is the same between Flanders and the Netherlands.
"Een" and "been" do rhyme when "een" is used like the number one.
You only need to write "één" with diacritics when it's in front of a noun to distinguish it from the version that means a/an. When it's not in front of a noun, you just write it as "een". For example, "een is meer dan twee" is correct as you cannot confuse it with the article.
To be honest the vowel in "been" is nowhere close to how "ee" is pronounced in dutch. there are a few different pronunciations that you will hear. 1 pronunciation off "ee" as in the word "een" is pronounced like the I in "bit". another common pronunciation of "ee" is can be approximated by the vowel diphthong ""eː"" as found in the word "play" - in an American accent. 2nd; often "ee" becomes diphthongized as "eɪ" as found in words "face" or "cake". you will be understood if you can pronounce "ee" as I have suggested, though pronunciations will vary across the Netherlands and Belgium
in south african english the i in the word bit is pronounced with a schwa hence "BəT". as i am from south africa, i would consider the example valid. however, some appropriate examples for english speakers from america or the uk would include: the "a" in the word COMMA or for RP the "er" in the word LETTER. in the examples you suggested the "un" in the words "gun" and "stun" is pronounced "ʌn" in the uk (and most other english speaking countries), however in America those examples are pronounced with a schwa so they would be correct if you came from the US
Regarding your bit example, I had no idea it was about South African English and I certainly wouldn't have thought of that if you hadn't mentioned it. :)
Regarding the whole this Dutch word sounds like that English word. I think I just have to stop doing that. People disagree with me so often, probably because I just cannot imagine the different sounds with the different English accents well enough. And in some cases I guess even if I would hear it, I wouldn't recognise some similar but different pronunciations. Like English speakers have with Dutch uu and oe. :)
in standard dutch the phoneme /e/ does exist however it is usually lengthened as indicated by the use of a colon : therefore "ee" is usually transcribed as /e:/ in ipa. but you are right about "en" the sound used here is indeed a schwa - transcribed in ipa with the /ə/ symbol.