Velar Nasal
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Velar Nasal
Voiced velar nasal
IPA Number119
Entity (decimal)ŋ
Unicode (hex)U+014B
Braille? (braille pattern dots-1246)
Audio sample

The voiced velar nasal, also known as agma, from the Greek word for 'fragment', is a type of consonantal sound used in some spoken languages. It is the sound of ng in English sing as well as n before velar consonants as in English and ink. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨?⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is N. The IPA symbol ⟨?⟩ is similar to ⟨?⟩, the symbol for the retroflex nasal, which has a rightward-pointing hook extending from the bottom of the right stem, and to ⟨?⟩, 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'.

As a phoneme, the velar nasal does not occur in many of the indigenous languages of the Americas or in many European or Middle Eastern or Caucasian languages, but it is extremely common in Australian Aboriginal languages and is also common in many languages of Sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia, Southeast Asia and Polynesia. While almost all languages have /m/ and /n/, /?/ is rarer.[1] Only half of the 469 languages surveyed in Anderson (2008) had a velar nasal phoneme; as a further curiosity, many of them limit 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 /n/ before velar consonants. An example of it used this way is the English word ingredient, which can be pronounced as either [?n'?ri:di?nt] or ['?ri:di?nt].

An example of a language that lacks a phonemic or allophonic velar nasal is Russian, in which /n/ is pronounced as laminal denti-alveolar even before velar consonants.[2]

Some languages have the pre-velar nasal,[3] which is articulated slightly more front compared with the place of articulation of the prototypical velar nasal, though not as front as the prototypical palatal nasal - see that article for more information.

Conversely, some languages have the post-velar nasal,[4] which is articulated slightly behind the place of articulation of a prototypical velar nasal, though not as back as the prototypical uvular nasal.


Voiced velar nasal.svg

Features of the voiced velar nasal:

  • Its manner of articulation is occlusive, which means it is produced by obstructing airflow in the vocal tract. Because 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 (the dorsum) 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.
  • It is a central consonant, which means it is produced by directing the airstream along the center of the tongue, rather than to the sides.
  • 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 [ac?] 'because'
Aleut[5] chaang [t:?] 'five'
Arabic Standard ‎/'ink?r ['k:r] 'denial' Allophone of /n/ before /k/; more commonly realized as .
Hejazi ‎/mingal [mal] 'brazier' Allophone of /n/ before velar stops. See Hejazi Arabic phonology
Armenian Eastern[6] ??/ënker ['k] 'friend' Allophone of /n/ before velar consonants
Assamese /?ông [r] 'color'
Bambara ?onI [?oni] 'guitar'
Bashkir ? / meñ 'one thousand'
Basque hanka [ha?ka] 'leg'
Bengali ??/rông [r] 'colour'
Bulgarian[7] /t?nko ['tko] 'thin'
Catalan[8] sang ['s(k)] 'blood' See Catalan phonology
Chamorro ngånga' [a?] 'duck'
Chinese Cantonese ?/ngong4 [:] 'raise' See Cantonese phonology
Eastern Min ?/ngi [?i] 'suspect'
Gan ?/nga [?a] 'tooth'
Hakka ?/ngai [?ai] 'I'
Mandarin /beijing [pet?i] 'Beijing' Restricted to the syllable coda. See Mandarin phonology
Northern Min ?/ngui [?ui] 'outside'
Southern Min ?/ng [] 'yellow' Only in colloquial speech.
Sichuanese ?/ngo [] 'I'
Wu ?/ng [] 'five'
Xiang ?/ngau [?au] 'to boil'
Yuci dialect of Jin ?/ngie [?ie] 'I'
Chukchi ??/?yroq [oq] 'three'
Czech tank [ta?k] 'tank' See Czech phonology
Dinka ?a [?a] 'who'
Danish sang [s] 'song' See Danish phonology
Dutch[9] angst [st] 'fear' See Dutch phonology
English sing 'sing' Restricted to the syllable coda. See English phonology
Faroese ong [k] 'meadow'
Fijian gone ['?one] 'child'
Filipino ngayón [?a'jon] 'now'
Finnish kangas ['k:?s] 'cloth' Occurs in native vocabulary only intervocally (as a geminate) and before /k/. See Finnish phonology
French[10] Standard camping [kpi?] 'camping' Occurs only in words borrowed from English or Chinese. See French phonology
Southern France pain [p] 'bread' For many speakers, [?] acts as a substitute for the nasalization of the preceding vowel, which may still be partially nasal. It is one of the most typical traits of varieties of French influenced by an Occitan substrate.
Galician unha ['u?a] 'one' (f.)
German lang [la?] 'long' See Standard German phonology
Greek ?? / anchos ['a?xo?s] 'Stress' See Modern Greek phonology
Hebrew Standard ???‎/anglit [a'lit] 'English language' Allophone of /n/ before velar stops. See Modern Hebrew phonology
Sephardi /nayin [?a'jin] 'Ayin' See Sephardi Hebrew
Hiligaynon buang [bu'ä?] 'crazy/mentally unstable'
Hindustani Hindi /?/ra?g [rg] 'color' See Hindustani phonology
Urdu ?‎/ra?g
Fiji Hindustani Rang
Hungarian ing [i] 'shirt' Allophone of /n/. See Hungarian phonology
Icelandic ng ['koeyk] 'tunnel' See Icelandic phonology
Inuktitut ?? / puunnguuq [pu:u:q] 'dog'
Inuvialuktun qamnguiyuaq [qam?uijuaq] 'snores'
Irish a nglór [ '?lo:] 'their voice' Occurs word-initially as a result of the consonantal mutation eclipsis. See Irish phonology
Italian[11] anche ['a?ke] 'also' Allophone of /n/ before /k/ and /?/. See Italian phonology
Itelmen ? [qni?] 'one'
Japanese Standard / nankyoku [na?k?ok?] 'the South Pole' See Japanese phonology
Eastern dialects[12] ? / kagi [ka?i] 'key'
Javanese /Sengak [sak] stink Additional /?/ caused by vowel after /?/ sounding
Kagayanen[13] manang [mana?] 'older sister'
Kazakh ? / my? [m] 'thousand'
Kyrgyz ?/miñ [mi?]
Ket ?/aja? [aja?] 'to damn'
Khasi ngap [?ap] 'honey'
Korean / seonge [se] 'window frost' See Korean phonology
Kurdish Northern ceng [d] 'war' See Kurdish phonology
Central /ceng
Luxembourgish[14] keng [k?æ?] 'nobody' See Luxembourgish phonology
Macedonian a/angliski ['aliski] 'English' Occurs occasionally as an allophone of /n/ before /k/ and /?/. See Macedonian phonology
Luganda ?aa?a [:] 'hornbill'
Malay Malaysian and Indonesian bangun [bä?on] 'wake up'
Kelantan-Pattani sini [] 'here' See Kelantan-Pattani Malay
Terengganu ayam [a.ja?] 'chicken' See Terengganu Malay
Malayalam[5] /m?n?n?a [ma:] 'mango'
M?ori[15] ng? [?a:] 'the'
Marathi /ranga [r] 'colour' See Marathi phonology
Mari ??/eng [je?] 'human'
Mongolian ? / te?ger [te?ger] 'sky'
Nepali ??/nang [n] 'nail' See Nepali phonology
Nganasan ???/ngang [?a?] 'mouth'
Nivkh ?/ngamg [?am?] 'seven'
North Frisian Mooring kåchelng ['k?x?l?] 'stove'
Norwegian gang [] 'hallway' See Norwegian phonology
Odia /ebang [eb] 'and'
Panjabi Gurmukhi /rang [r] 'color'
Shahmukhi ?/rang
Persian [ræ:?] See Persian phonology
Pipil nemanha [nema?a] 'later'
Polish[16] bank [bä?k] 'bank' Allophone of /n/ before /k, ?, x/; post-palatal before /k?, /.[17][18] See Polish phonology
Portuguese manga ['m(?)] 'mango' Occurs occasionally in slow, careful speech, as an allophone of /n/ before /?/ and /k/, when the speaker does not delete the /n/ by fusing it with the preceding vowel.
Occitan Provençal vin [vi?] 'wine'
Rapanui hanga [ha?a] 'bay' Sometimes written ⟨g⟩ in Rapanui
Romanian ?ara Mo?ilor Transylvanian[19] câine ['ki] 'dog' Corresponds to in standard Romanian. See Romanian phonology
S?moan gagana [?a'?ana] 'language'
Serbo-Croatian[20] ? / stanka [stâ:?ka] 'pause' Allophone of /n/ before /k, ?, x/.[20] See Serbo-Croatian phonology
Seri comcáac [ko?'kaak] 'Seri people'
Shona nanga [?aa] 'witch doctor'
Slovene tank [ta?k] 'tank'
Spanish[21] All dialects domingo [d?o?'mo?] 'Sunday' Allophone of /n/ before velar stops. See Spanish phonology
Galician Spanish, Andalusian, Canarian, and most Latin American dialects alquitrán [alkit'?a?] 'tar' Allophone of /n/ in word-final position, either before consonants other than velar stops or vowel-beginning words or before a pause.
Swahili ng'ombe [?omb?] 'cow'
Swedish ingenting [n't] 'nothing' See Swedish phonology
Tamil /in?g? [i?ge:] 'here'
Thai ?/ngaan [?a:n] 'work'
Tuamotuan rangi / ragi [ra?i] 'sky'
Tundra Nenets ?/wa [?æewa] 'head'
Turkmen ? [my?] 'thousand'
Tyap n??won [?n] 'child'
Uzbek ming [mi?] 'thousand'
Venetian man [ma?] 'hand'
Vietnamese[22] ngà [?a:] 'ivory' See Vietnamese phonology
Welsh rhwng [r] 'between'
West Frisian kening ['ke:n] 'king'
Xhosa ing'ang'ane [i?a?a:ne] 'hadada ibis'
Yi ?/nga [?a?] 'I'
Yup'ik ungungssiq [u?u?ssiq] 'animal'
Zapotec Tilquiapan[23] yan [ja?] 'neck' Word-final allophone of lenis /n/

See also


  1. ^ Ladefoged (2005), p. 164. The oral counterparts /p, t, k/ are found together in almost all languages
  2. ^ Jones & Ward (1969), p. 160.
  3. ^ Instead of "pre-velar", it can be called "advanced velar", "fronted velar", "front-velar", "palato-velar", "post-palatal", "retracted palatal" or "backed palatal".
  4. ^ Instead of "post-velar", it can be called "retracted velar", "backed velar", "pre-uvular", "advanced uvular" or "fronted uvular".
  5. ^ a b Ladefoged (2005), p. 165.
  6. ^ Dum-Tragut (2009), p. 19.
  7. ^ Sabev, Mitko. "Bulgarian Sound System". Archived from the original on 11 July 2012. Retrieved 2013.
  8. ^ Carbonell & Llisterri (1992), p. 53.
  9. ^ Gussenhoven (1992), p. 45.
  10. ^ Wells (1989), p. 44.
  11. ^ Rogers & d'Arcangeli (2004), p. 118.
  12. ^ Okada (1999), p. 118.
  13. ^ Olson et al. (2010), pp. 206-207.
  14. ^ Gilles & Trouvain (2013), pp. 67-68.
  15. ^ Reed (2001).
  16. ^ Jassem (2003), p. 103.
  17. ^ Gussmann (1974), pp. 107, 111 and 114.
  18. ^ Ostaszewska & Tambor (2000), pp. 35, 41 and 86.
  19. ^ Pop (1938), p. 31.
  20. ^ a b Landau et al. (1999), p. 67
  21. ^ Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté (2003), p. 258.
  22. ^ Thompson (1959), pp. 458-461.
  23. ^ Merrill (2008), p. 109.


  • Anderson, Gregory D. S. (2008), "The Velar Nasal", in Haspelmath, Martin; Dryer, Matthew S; Gil, David; et al. (eds.), The World Atlas of Language Structures Online, Munich: Max Planck Digital Library, retrieved
  • 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
  • Gilles, Peter; Trouvain, Jürgen (2013), "Luxembourgish" (PDF), Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 43 (1): 67-74, doi:10.1017/S0025100312000278
  • Gussenhoven, Carlos (1992), "Dutch", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 22 (2): 45-47, doi:10.1017/S002510030000459X
  • Gussmann, Edmund (1974), Fisiak, Jacek (ed.), "Nasality in Polish and English" (PDF), Papers and Studies in Contrastive Linguistics, Pozna?: Adam Mickiewicz University, 2: 105-122
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  • Jones, Daniel; Ward, Dennis (1969), The Phonetics of Russian, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 9780521153003
  • Ladefoged, Peter (2005), Vowels and Consonants: An Introduction to the Sounds of Languages, 1, Wiley-Blackwell
  • Landau, Ernestina; Lon?ari?, Mijo; Horga, Damir; ?kari?, Ivo (1999), "Croatian", Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A guide to the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 66-69, ISBN 0-521-65236-7
  • 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" (PDF), Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 38 (1): 107-114, doi:10.1017/S0025100308003344
  • Okada, Hideo (1999), "Japanese", in International Phonetic Association (ed.), Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A Guide to the Use of the International Phonetic Alphabet, Cambridge University Press, pp. 117-119, ISBN 978-0-52163751-0
  • Olson, Kenneth; Mielke, Jeff; Sanicas-Daguman, Josephine; Pebley, Carol Jean; Paterson, Hugh J., III (2010), "The phonetic status of the (inter)dental approximant" (PDF), Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 40 (2): 199-215, doi:10.1017/S0025100309990296
  • Ostaszewska, Danuta; Tambor, Jolanta (2000), Fonetyka i fonologia wspó?czesnego j?zyka polskiego, Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, ISBN 83-01-12992-1
  • Pop, Sever (1938), Micul Atlas Linguistic Român, Muzeul Limbii Române Cluj
  • Reed, A.W. (2001), K?retu, T?moti (ed.), The Reed Concise M?ori Dictionary
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  • 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

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