n. (context phonetics English) A nasal consonant voiced as the sound of "ng" in English "sing", represented with ŋ in the IPA phonetic alphabet.
The velar nasal is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. It is the sound of ng in English sing. 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 a large number of European or Middle Eastern or Caucasian languages, but it is extremely common in Australian Aboriginal languages. While almost all languages have and , is rarer. Only half of the 469 languages surveyed in had a velar nasal phoneme; as a further curiosity, a large proportion of them limits 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 before velar consonants.
An example of a language that lacks a phonemic or allophonic velar nasal is Russian, in which is pronounced as laminal denti-alveolar even before velar consonants.
As with the voiced velar stop , the relative rarity of the velar nasal is that the small oral cavity, which is used to produce velar consonants, makes it more difficult for voicing to be sustained. It also makes it much more difficult to allow air to escape through the nose, as is required for a nasal.
Some languages have the pre-velar nasal, 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, which is articulated slightly behind the place of articulation of a prototypical velar nasal, though not as back as the prototypical uvular nasal - see that article for more information.