Consonants /n/ versus /ŋ/, 95 pairs     [banbang.html]

The /n/ sound is spelled with <n> or <nn>. The /ŋ/ sound is spelled with <ng>. The <ng> spelling is pronounced /ŋ/ when it occurs finally and when it is medial in longer words derived from verbs, such as banger or singing. In other longer words it is usually pronounced /ŋg/ as in single or longer. One exceptional case is hangar, a storage shed for aircraft, which is pronounced /'hæŋə/. The only minimal pair for the contrast between /ŋg/ and /ŋ/ is Bangor (town in Wales) versus banger.

In addition to the main list I have added pairs contrasting hyphenated compounds with present participles, such as sit-in/sitting. The -in suffix is a live morpheme, so more of these compounds could come into the language at any stage.

This is a contrast between an alveolar and a velar nasal continuant, both voiced. It can only occur medially or finally. It is a known problem for speakers of French, Italian, Russian, Greek and Arabic, and many other learners whose own language does not make this contrast will tend to pronounce <ng> as /ŋg/ in all cases.

Interesting pairs include:

coffin coughing
pannikin panicking

The mean density value is very low at 0.4%. The lists make 51 semantic distinctions, a loading of 65%.

ban bang
  banning banging 
  bans bangs 
  banned banged
banner banger 
  banners bangers 
bobbin bobbing
bowline bowling
bruin brewing 
bun bung
  buns bungs
Carolyn carolling
clan clang
  clans clangs 
coffin coughing
done dung
dubbin dubbing
Dublin doubling
fan fang
  fans fangs 
goblin gobbling 
gone gong
hand hanged
Hanover hangover
Hitchin hitching
Hun hung
illumine illuming
jerkin jerking
Jocelyn jostling
kin king
lupin looping 
mountain mounting
muffin muffing
muggins muggings 
mullein mulling
muslin muzzling
pan pang
  pans pangs 
pannikin panicking 	
parkin parking
pin ping
  pinned pinged 
  pinning pinging 
  pins pings 
pippin pipping
puffin puffing
ran rang
ratlin rattling
robin robbing
Ron wrong
ruin ruing
run rung
  runs rungs 
sin sing
  sinner singer 
  sinners singers 
  sinning singing 
  sins sings 
son sung
tan tang
  tans tangs 
tannin tanning
thin thing
  thins things 
tin ting
  tinned tinged 
  tinning tinging 
  tins tings 
ton tongue
  tonned tongued 
  tonnes tongues 
virgin verging 
Welwyn welling
win wing 
  winning winging 
  winner winger 
  winners wingers 
  wins wings 
wind winged 
Compounds
 
buy-in buying 	  
drive-in driving
drop-in dropping
lead-in leading
lie-in lying
live-in living
look-in looking
love-in loving
pull-in	pulling
run-in running
sit-in sitting
stand-in standing
tie-in tying
tie-pin typing	 
trade-in trading
walk-in walking
write-in writing

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, 25 January 2013.