Velar nasal

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Pulmonic Consonant
IPA: ŋ
Kirshenbaum: N
Place of Articulation: Velar
Manner of Articulation: Nasal Stop
Phonological features:


The velar nasal is a fairly common sound cross-linguistically. It is often an allophone of /n/ before a velar sound. In languages such as Mandarin Chinese it may be argued to be a syllable-final allophone of /m/.

It is unusually common for the velar nasal to be prohibited from appearing at the beginning of the word; this is the case in nearly all languages of Eurasia, for example (the Samoyedic languages and languages of southeast Asia are notable exceptions). This evidently is a consequence of the nasal being much rarer as a consonant phoneme than its labial and coronal counterparts: many languages that do have it as a phoneme have developed it from clusters such as /nk/ or /nɡ/ (the latter is the origin of the phoneme in Germanic languages, for instance) that cannot occur word-initially. It is also not unlikely for the sound to be constrained entirely to the syllable-final position (again, see Mandarin).

The dedicated IPA letter <ŋ> is formed as an amalgamation of <n> and <ɡ>. There is also a corresponding capital letter, <Ŋ>; this comes in two allographic forms, the other resembling an <N> with a hook (preferred in Samic languages), the other a larger, descenderless form of the lowercase glyph (preferred in African languages using the letter).

Velar nasals in natlangs


Voiced ng sing /sɪŋ/
n(k,g) sank /sænk/ [sæŋk]

Ancient Greek

Voiced γ(γ,κ,ν,μ,χ) ἄγγελος [áŋɡelos]


Voiced g(n) magnus /magnus/ [maŋnʊs]

Velar nasals in conlangs


Voiced Kirumb-small-letter-angma.png (ŋ) viŋe [vìŋə]


Voiced ņ gaņiut /ɡaŋiut/
Voiced geminated ņņ sa’weņņün /saʔweŋŋʉn/