Discover more from Adastra Speech - Thinking About Speaking
TWEHN-tee twehn-tee tu?
2022 - You Have Options
How do you want to say it?
Do you realize how many options you have for the simple combination of the numbers “20” and “22”?
Choose Your “T”
1. Keep the Second “t”
“Twenty” can be pronounced super clearly with the “t” at the end: TWEN-ty.
2. Omit the Second “t”
“Twenty can be pronounced without the “t” at the end: TWEN-y. This isn’t less clear or less correct, it’s actually the most common way for native American English speakers.
Choose Your Vowel
You have two options for how to pronounce the vowel:
The vowel can sound like “eh” as in “yes.” The IPA symbol is /ɛ/.
The vowel can also sound like “uh” as in “up” (same sound as the schwa /ə). The IPA symbol is /ʌ/.
“Two” is just “tu” /'tu/- no choices there.
Options for “twenty-two”
Keep the “t” with /ɛ/ “eh” vowel: /'twɛn-ti-tu/ = TWEHN-tee-tu
Omit the “t” with /ɛ/ “eh” vowel: /'twɛn-i-tu/ = TWEHN-nee-tu
Keep the “t” with the /ʌ/ “uh” vowel: /'twʌn-ti-tu/ = TWUHN-tee-tu
Omit the “t” with the /ʌ/ “uh” vowel: /'twʌn-i-tu/ = TWUHN-nee-tu
Why Can We Drop the “t”?
When the “t” follows an “n” and it’s in the unstressed syllable, you can keep the “t” or drop it.
The tongue goes into position for the “n” by pressing the whole tongue up against the roof of the mouth, completely sealing off all airflow from leaving the mouth and directing it through the nose.
If you release the tip of the tongue from behind the top teeth with a burst of airflow, you will create a /t/ sound followed by the vowel /i/ and sound like “tee.”
If you release the tongue without a burst of airflow, the tongue lowers and the air is released through the mouth to create the vowel /i/ and sound like “nee.”
Both are correct. Dropping the /t/ makes it a little easier because you’re using less air pressure. Anything that’s easier is going to be more common and that’s what you’ll hear most often.
It’s unusual to hear the two styles mixed, it’s either all “t” or no “t” in both occurances of “twenty” in “twenty-twenty-two.”
Options for “twenty twenty-two”
Keep the “t” with /ɛ/ vowel: /'twɛn-ti-twɛn-ti-tu/ = TWEHN-tee twehn-tee-tu
Omit the “t” with /ɛ/ vowel: /'twɛn-i-twɛn-i-tu/ = TWEN-nee twehn-nee-tu
Keep the “t” with the /ʌ/ vowel: /'twʌn-ti-twʌn-ti-tu/ = TWUHN-tee twuhn-tee-tu
Omit the “t” with the /ʌ/ vowel: /'twʌn-i-twʌn-i-tu/ = TWUHN-nee twuhn-nee-tu
Since these tiny differences go by so quickly in regular conversational speech, listen for this on videos where you can go back and hear it again and also slow down the speed. In YouGlish.com, I slow the speed down to x.07 to catch the differences easily.