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I recently realized that the first phoneme in the word Днепр is not [d̪] at all. The position of my tongue is very much different from what it takes to pronounce [d̪], or [d] for that matter. What’s that phoneme, then?

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  • What phoneme is it close to when you pronounce it?
    – Abakan
    May 11 '18 at 7:29
  • my tongue is set against the upper row of the front teeth like in the standard Д but the sound itself isn't a full Д because of the following Н, so they unite into one sound, kind of nasal Д May 11 '18 at 7:58
  • @БаянКупи-ка - Keep calm and "nasal Д" is actually Н )). The first sound in Днепр is just [dʲ], don't make simple things over-complicated. There are neither "nasal [d]" nor [dn͡] affricate in Russian.
    – Yellow Sky
    May 11 '18 at 8:53
  • I don't think there are minimal pairs, so that it is only of interest to very specialized linguists.
    – alamar
    May 11 '18 at 10:11
  • @Yellow Sky yeah, nah, i don't claim it to be a phoneme in its own right, just tried to describe how it's perceived on my end which may resemble the impression the OP has May 11 '18 at 10:39
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This is called фаукальное д - this happens when some specific consonants stand before н or м - to be more precise, before nasal consonants.

Here's a quote:

Стык предлога со следующим словом фонетически почти не отличается от стыка приставки и корня по образованию комбинаторных оттенков фонем, например: под ним [под- н’іім] — поднять (плдн’'ат’| (фаукальное д)

More about nasal release (this is how it's called in English) one can find in a Wikipedia article:

Фаукальный взрыв (от лат. faux/fauces, faucalis — глотка, глоточный) — взрывной звук, образуемый в зеве, характерный для такого образования. Возникает в положении неносового взрывного согласного перед носовым того же места образования, в результате замены ртового взрыва (например, б, д, п) зевным вследствие опускания нёбной занавески при переходе от смычного к носовому; смычный при этом характеризуется некоторой имплозивностью (сомкнутостью). Например, ротный, годный, нэпман, тщетный, обман, пригодный, потный и т. д.

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  • as it transpires i wasn't in my observation that far from the truth May 11 '18 at 12:34

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