In this lesson, we will learn the pronunciation and spelling of the /ŋ/ sound in English. This phoneme is not represented by a letter in the English alphabet. Therefore, it is necessary to memorise the /ŋ/ sound along with its unique symbol when learning IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet). The way I remember the /ŋ/ sound symbol is by imagining the shape of an elephant’s trunk:
The rules of pronouncing /ŋ/
- /ŋ/ is spelt <ng> at the end of a word
king lung bring strong wrong
- /ŋ/ is spelt <n> before a <k>
bank hunk skunk junk punk
- a letter <n> before <g> or <k> becomes /ŋ/
finger ginger fungus drunken bunker
- the –ing suffix in gerunds and present participles includes an /ŋ/ sound:
playing running laughing writing shouting
- the /ŋ/ sound never begins a word in English
How to Pronounce /ŋ/
/ŋ/ is a nasal consonant, meaning that the sound comes out through the nose. To make this sound, you put the back of your tongue against the velar (the soft tissue at the back of the throat). The position is slightly further back and higher up than for /g/ and /k/. When the back of the tongue is in this position, it blocks air from passing out the mouth. This then makes the /ŋ/ sound come out through your nose.
/ŋ/ is a voiced consonant: you feel vibrations in the throat
/ŋ/ is a nasal consonant: you feel buzzing in your nose
Practice Soft /g/: Some Examples from the Lesson Recording
bang: bang the drum
gong: the gong‘s gone wrong
king: English king
kangaroo: kangaroos and dingoes
slang: Cockney rhyming slang
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