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The velar nasal is the sound of ng in English si'ng. It is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is , 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 and , is rarer. Only half of the 469 languages surveyed in had a velar nasal phoneme. 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 other nasals 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 and . Both the symbol and the sound are commonly called as "eng" or "engma" and sometimes in reference to Greek, "angma". The symbol should not be confused with , the symbol for the retroflex nasal, which has a rightward-pointing hook extending from the bottom of the right stem or with , 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
plain [ŋ]
voiceless [ŋ]
syllabic [ŋ]
breathy voiced [ŋ]
creaky voiced [ŋ]
labialized [ŋ]


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Aleut 'five'
Bai Dalimarker dialect ? 'fish'
Chinese Cantonese / 'raise' See Standard Cantonese
Mandarin / 'Beijing' See Standard Mandarin
Catalan 'blood' See Catalan phonology
Chukchi ңыроқ 'two'
Czech 'tank' See Czech phonology
Dinka 'who'
Danish 'song' See Danish phonology
Dutch 'fear' See Dutch phonology
English 'sing' Restricted to the syllable coda. See English phonology
Fijian 'child'
Filipino 'now, today'
Finnish 'of the thread' See Finnish phonology
French 'parking lot' See French phonology
Galician 'one', 'a' (feminine)
German 'long' See German phonology
Greek 'I fail (to fail)' See Modern Greek phonology
Hebrew 'bank' Allophone of before velar consonants. See Hebrew phonology
Hindi 'color' See Hindi-Urdu phonology
Hungarian 'shirt' See Hungarian phonology
Icelandic 'tunnel' See Icelandic phonology
Indonesian 'wake up'
Inuktitut ᐴ'ᐆᖅ/puunnguuq 'dog' for shaman's word
Inuvialuktun qam'nguiyuaq 'snores'
Irish 'a scabbed one' See Irish phonology
Italian 'also' See Italian phonology
Itelmen 'one'
Japanese Standard / 'the South Pole' See Japanese phonology
Eastern dialects / 'key'
Ket 'to damn'
Korean / 'room' See Korean phonology
Macedonian 'English' Occurs occasionally as an allophone of before and . See Macedonian phonology
Malayalam 'faded'
Māori 'the (plural)' See Māori phonology
Nivkh ңамг 'seven'
Norwegian 'hallway' See Norwegian phonology
Polish 'bank' See Polish phonology
Occitan Provençal 'wine'
Rapanui 'bay' Sometimes transcribed as
Russian 'function' Informal and occurs only irregularly before or . See Russian phonology
Seri 'Seri people'
Shona 'witch-doctor'
Slovene 'tank'
Spanish 'Sunday' See Spanish phonology
Swahili 'cow'
Swedish 'bank' See Swedish phonology
Thai 'work/job'
Vietnamese 'to accept' See Vietnamese phonology
Yup'ik 'animal'
Zapotec Tilquiapan ya'n 'neck' Word-final allophone of lenis

See also


  1. Reed, A.W., Kāretu, T (editors), (2001). "The Reed Consise Māori Dictionary", (2001)


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