Velar nasal

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Velar nasal
IPA number 119
Entity (decimal) ŋ
Unicode (hex) U+014B
Kirshenbaum N
Braille ⠫ (braille pattern dots-1246)

The velar nasal is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. It is the sound of ng in English sing. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ŋ, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is N. The IPA symbol ŋ is similar to ɳ, the symbol for the retroflex nasal, which has a rightward-pointing hook extending from the bottom of the right stem, and to ɲ, the symbol for the palatal nasal, which has a leftward-pointing hook extending from the bottom of the left stem. Both the IPA symbol and the sound are commonly called 'eng' or 'engma' (not to be confused with the Greek letter angma.)

As a phoneme, the velar nasal does not occur in many of the indigenous languages of the Americas or in a large number of European or Middle Eastern languages, but it is extremely common in Australian Aboriginal languages. While almost all languages have /m/ and /n/, /ŋ/ is rarer.[1] Only half of the 469 languages surveyed in Anderson (2008) had a velar nasal phoneme; as a further curiosity, a large proportion of them limits its occurrence to the syllable coda. In many languages that do not have the velar nasal as a phoneme, it occurs as an allophone of other nasals before velar consonants.

As with the voiced velar stop /ɡ/, the relative rarity of the velar nasal is because the small oral cavity, used to produce velar consonants, makes it more difficult for voicing to be sustained.[citation needed] It also makes it much more difficult to allow air to escape through the nose, as is required for a nasal.


Features of the velar nasal:

  • Its manner of articulation is occlusive, which means it is produced by obstructing airflow in the vocal tract. Since the consonant is also nasal, the blocked airflow is redirected through the nose.
  • Its place of articulation is velar, which means it is articulated with the back of the tongue at the soft palate.
  • Its phonation is voiced, which means the vocal cords vibrate during the articulation.
  • It is a nasal consonant, which means air is allowed to escape through the nose, either exclusively (nasal stops) or in addition to through the mouth.
  • Because the sound is not produced with airflow over the tongue, the centrallateral dichotomy does not apply.
  • The airstream mechanism is pulmonic, which means it is articulated by pushing air solely with the lungs and diaphragm, as in most sounds.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Albanian ngaqë [ŋɡacə] 'because'
Aleut[2] chaang [tʃɑːŋ] 'five'
Armenian Eastern[3] ընկեր [əŋˈkɛɾ] 'friend' Allophone of /n/ before velar consonants
Asturian pación [pa.ˈθjoŋ] 'pasture'
Bambara ŋonI [ŋoni] 'guitar'
Basque hanka [haŋka] 'leg'
Bengali [rɔŋ] 'color'
Catalan[4] sang [ˈsaŋ(k)] 'blood' See Catalan phonology
Chinese Cantonese ngong4 [ŋɔːŋ˩] 'raise' See Cantonese phonology
Mandarin 北京 Běijīng [peɪ˨˩tɕiŋ˥] 'Beijing' See Mandarin phonology
Wu [ŋ˩˧] 'five'
Chukchi ңыроқ [ŋəɹoq] 'two'
Czech tank [taŋk] 'tank' See Czech phonology
Dinka ŋa [ŋa] 'who'
Danish sang [sɑŋˀ] 'song' See Danish phonology
Dutch[5] angst [ɑŋst] 'fear' See Dutch phonology
English sing [sɪŋ] 'sing' Restricted to the syllable coda. See English phonology
Faroese ong [ɔŋk] 'meadow'
Fijian gone [ˈŋone] 'child'
Filipino ngayón [ŋaˈjon] 'now'
Finnish kangas [ˈkɑŋːɑs] 'cloth' Occurs in native vocabulary only intervocally and before /k/. See Finnish phonology
French[6] parking [paʁkiŋ] 'parking lot' Occurs only in words borrowed from English or Chinese. See French phonology
Galician unha [ˈuŋa] 'one' (f.)
German lang [laŋ] 'long' See German phonology
Greek αποτυγχάνω apotynchánō [apo̞tiŋˈxano̞] 'I fail' See Modern Greek phonology
Hebrew אנגלית [aŋɡˈlit] 'English language' An allophone of /n/ before a velar stop. See Modern Hebrew phonology
Hindustani रंग / رنگ [rəŋɡ] 'color' See Hindi–Urdu phonology
Hungarian ing [iŋɡ] 'shirt' Allophone of /n/. See Hungarian phonology
Icelandic ng [ˈkøyŋk] 'tunnel' See Icelandic phonology
Indonesian bangun [bäŋʊn] 'wake up'
Inuktitut ᐆᖅ puunnguuq [puːŋŋuːq] 'dog'
Inuvialuktun qamnguiyuaq [qamŋuijuaq] 'snores'
Irish a nglór [ˌə̃ ˈŋl̪ˠoːɾˠ] 'their voice' Occurs word-initially as a result of the consonantal mutation eclipsis. See Irish phonology
Italian[7] anche [ˈaŋke] 'also' See Italian phonology
Itelmen қниң [qniŋ] 'one'
Japanese Standard 南極 nankyoku [naŋkʲokɯ] 'the South Pole' See Japanese phonology
Eastern dialects[8] kagi [kaŋi] 'key'
Kagayanen[9] manang [manaŋ] 'older sister'
Ket аяң [ajaŋ] 'to damn'
Korean bang [paŋ] 'room' See Korean phonology
Macedonian aнглиски [ˈaŋɡliski] 'English' Occurs occasionally as an allophone of /n/ before /k/ and /ɡ/. See Macedonian phonology
Malay bangun [bäŋon] 'wake up'
Malayalam[2] മാങ്ങ [maːŋŋɐ] 'mango'
Māori[10] ngā [ŋaː] 'the'
Marathi संगणक [səŋɡəɳək] 'computer' See Marathi phonology
Mari еҥ [jeŋ] 'human'
Nganasan ӈаӈ [ŋaŋ] 'mouth'
Nivkh ңамг [ŋamɡ] 'seven'
North Frisian Mooring kåchelng [ˈkɔxəlŋ] 'stove'
Norwegian gang [ɡɑŋ] 'hallway' See Norwegian phonology
Persian رنگ [ræːŋɡ] 'color' See Persian phonology
Pipil nemanha'' [nemaŋa] 'later'
Polish[11] bank [bäŋk] 'bank' See Polish phonology
Occitan Provençal vin [viŋ] 'wine'
Rapanui hanga [haŋa] 'bay' Sometimes written g in Rapanui
Russian функция [ˈfuŋkt͡sɨjə] 'function' Informal and occurs irregularly, only before /k/ or /ɡ/. See Russian phonology
Seri comcáac [koŋˈkaak] 'Seri people'
Shona nanga [ŋaŋɡa] 'witch-doctor'
Slovene tank [taŋk] 'tank'
Spanish[12] domingo [d̪o̞ˈmĩŋɡo̞] 'Sunday' Allophone of /n/. See Spanish phonology
Swahili ng'ombe [ŋɔmbɛ] 'cow'
Swedish ingenting [ɪŋːɛnˈtʰɪŋ] 'nothing' See Swedish phonology
Thai าน [ŋaːn] 'work'
Tundra Nenets ӈэва [ŋæewa] 'head'
Turkmen birmeňzeş [biɾmeŋðeʃ] 'identical'
Venetian man [maŋ] 'hand'
Vietnamese[13] ngà [ŋaː˨˩] 'ivory' See Vietnamese phonology
Welsh rhwng [r̥ʊŋ] 'between'
West Frisian kening [ˈkeːnɪŋ] 'king'
Yi nga [ŋa˧] 'I'
Yup'ik ungungssiq [uŋuŋssiq] 'animal'
Zapotec Tilquiapan[14] yan [jaŋ] 'neck' Word-final allophone of lenis /n/

See also[edit]



  • Anderson, Gregory D. S. (2008), "The Velar Nasal", in Haspelmath, Martin; Dryer, Matthew S; Gil, David et al., The World Atlas of Language Structures Online, Munich: Max Planck Digital Library, retrieved 2008-04-30 
  • Carbonell, Joan F.; Llisterri, Joaquim (1992), "Catalan", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 22 (1–2): 53–56, doi:10.1017/S0025100300004618 
  • Dum-Tragut, Jasmine (2009), Armenian: Modern Eastern Armenian, Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company 
  • Gussenhoven, Carlos (1992), "Dutch", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 22 (2): 45–47, doi:10.1017/S002510030000459X 
  • Jassem, Wiktor (2003), "Polish", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 33 (1): 103–107, doi:10.1017/S0025100303001191 
  • Ladefoged, Peter (2005), Vowels and Consonants: An Introduction to the Sounds of Languages 1, Wiley-Blackwell 
  • Martínez-Celdrán, Eugenio; Fernández-Planas, Ana Ma.; Carrera-Sabaté, Josefina (2003), "Castilian Spanish", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 33 (2): 255–259, doi:10.1017/S0025100303001373 
  • Merrill, Elizabeth (2008), "Tilquiapan Zapotec", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 38 (1): 107–114, doi:10.1017/S0025100308003344 
  • Okada, Hideo (1991), "Phonetic Representation:Japanese", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 21 (2): 94–97, doi:10.1017/S002510030000445X 
  • Olson, Kenneth; Mielke, Jeff; Sanicas-Daguman, Josephine; Pebley, Carol Jean; Paterson, Hugh J., III (2010), "The phonetic status of the (inter)dental approximant", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 40 (2): 199–215, doi:10.1017/S0025100309990296 
  • Reed, A.W. (2001), Kāretu, Timoti, ed., The Reed Concise Māori Dictionary 
  • Rogers, Derek; d'Arcangeli, Luciana (2004), "Italian", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 34 (1): 117–121, doi:10.1017/S0025100304001628 
  • Wells, J.C. (1989), "Computer-Coded Phonemic Notation of Individual Languages of the European Community", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 19 (1): 31–54, doi:10.1017/S0025100300005892