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|IPA - Unicode|
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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.
Features of the velar nasal:
- Its manner of articulation is plosive or stop, which means it is produced by obstructing airflow in the vocal tract.
- Its place of articulation is velar which means it is articulated with the back part of the tongue (the dorsum) against the soft palate (the velum).
- Its phonation type is voiced, which means the vocal cords are vibrating during the articulation.
- It is a nasal consonant, which means air is allowed to escape through the nose.
- It is a central consonant, which means it is produced by allowing the airstream to flow over the middle of the tongue, rather than the sides.
- The airstream mechanism is pulmonic egressive, which means it is articulated by pushing air out of the lungs and through the vocal tract, rather than from the glottis or the mouth.
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, "agma". 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]
|ŋ̈||breathy voiced ŋ|
|ŋ̃||creaky voiced ŋ|
The velar occurs in English, and it is the sound denoted by the letters 'ng' in sing or the letter 'n' in bank.
In other languages
The [ŋ] sound is a fairly common sound cross-linguistically. Many languages have both a set of nasal stops and velar stops have [ŋ]. It is unusual in that in many languages it is only permitted at the ends of syllables, like in English or Korean. However in other languages it is permitted at the beginnings of syllables, like in the name of the language Ngaju Dayak . In Cantonese Chinese, not only is it permitted at the beginning of syllables, but it can be a standalone syllable itself. For instance, the surname Ng (sometimes transliterated as Eng) is a common Cantonese surname and is pronounced [ŋ̩].
In Greek it was written with a gamma γ (and still is), and it was probably an allophone of /n/, as in Italian, Spanish and Modern Greek. In modern Germanic languages, it is a separate phoneme—originally, it was only an allophone in Germanic, too. Nevertheless, there is a Runic letter that represents [ŋ]. In his book Ancient Scripts And Phonological Knowledge, Gary D. Miller argues that the Runic [ŋ]-letter is composed of two gammas - however, two gammas never represented [ŋ] in Greek, but [ŋg]. In Latin, [ŋ] was represented by n before c, g; and by g before n—agnus was pronounced /aŋnus/.
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