Velar nasal

The velar nasal is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ŋ, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is N.

As a phoneme, the velar nasal does not occur in many of the indigenous languages of the Americas, nor in a large number of European or Middle Eastern languages. While almost all languages have /m/ and /n/, only about half have a velar nasal. As with the voiced velar plosive, the relative rarity of the velar nasal is undoubtedly due to the fact that the small oral cavity used to produce velar consonants makes it more difficult for voicing to be sustained. It also makes it much more difficult to allow air to escape through the nose as is required for a nasal consonant.

In many languages that do not have the velar nasal as a phoneme, it occurs as an allophone of /n/ before velar consonants.


Features of the velar nasal:

The IPA symbol is a lowercase letter n with a leftward tail protruding from the bottom of the right stem of the letter. Compare n and ŋ. Both the symbol and the sound are commonly called as "eng" or "engma" and sometimes in reference to Greek, "angma". The symbol ŋ should not be confused with ɳ, the symbol for the retroflex nasal, which has a rightward-pointing hook extending from the bottom of the right stem or with ɲ, the symbol for the palatal nasal, which has a leftward-pointing hook extending from the bottom of the left stem.

Varieties of [ŋ]

IPA Description
ŋ plain ŋ
ŋ̊ voiceless ŋ
ŋ̍ syllabic ŋ
ŋ̈ breathy voiced ŋ
ŋ̃ creaky voiced ŋ
ŋʷ labialized ŋ


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Aleut chaang 'five'
Bai Dali dialect ? 'fish'
Chinese Cantonese /ngong4 'raise' See Standard Cantonese
Mandarin 北京/Běijīng 'Beijing' See Standard Mandarin
Catalan sa'ng'' [saŋ] 'blood' See Catalan phonology
Chukchi ңыроқ 'two'
Czech tank 'tank' See Czech phonology
Dinka ŋa 'who'
Dutch angst [ɑŋst] 'fear' See Dutch phonology
English sing 'sing' Restricted to the syllable coda. See English phonology
Fijian gone 'child'
Filipino ngayon 'now, today'
Finnish langan 'of the thread' See Finnish phonology
French parking 'parking lot' See French phonology
Galician unha [ˈuŋa] 'one', 'a' (feminine)
German lang 'long' See German phonology
Greek αποτυγχάνω 'I fail (to fail)' See Modern Greek phonology
Hebrew בנק [baŋk] 'bank' Allophone of /n/ before velar consonants. See Hebrew phonology
Hindi रङ्ग [rəŋg] 'color' See Hindi-Urdu phonology
Hungarian ing 'shirt' See Hungarian phonology
Icelandic ng ? See Icelandic phonology
Indonesian bangun [baŋun] 'wake up'
Irish ceann carrach 'a scabbed one' See Irish phonology
Italian anche 'also' See Italian phonology
Itelmen қниң [qniŋ] 'one'
Japanese Standard 南極/nankyoku 'the South Pole' See Japanese phonology
Eastern dialects /kagi 'key'
Ket аяң [ajaŋ] 'to damn'
Korean /bang 'room' See Korean phonology
Macedonian aнглиски 'English' Occurs occasionally as an allophone of /n/ before /k/ and /g/. See Macedonian phonology
Nivkh ңамг 'seven'
Norwegian gang 'hallway' See Norwegian phonology
Polish bank 'bank' See Polish phonology
Occitan Provençal vin 'wine'
Russian функция 'function' Occurs only irregularly before /k/ or /g/. See Russian phonology
Seri comcáac 'Seri people'
Shona 'nanga [ŋaŋga] 'witch-doctor'
Slovene tank 'tank'
Spanish domingo [d̪o̞ˈmĩŋgo̞] 'Sunday' See Spanish phonology
Swahili ng'ombe [ŋɔmbɛ] 'cow'
Swedish bank [baŋkʰ] 'bank' See Swedish phonology
Thai าน [ŋaːn] 'work/job'
Vietnamese ưng 'to accept' See Vietnamese phonology

See also



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