Decoding the letter N

From Teflpedia

ŋ

pink /pɪŋk/

n

pin /pɪn/

The letter N, lower case n (pronounced /en/) normally represents IPA phoneme /n/. For examples see IPA phoneme /n/.

Before /k/ or /g/ it normally represents /ŋ/ as in ink /ɪŋk/ or finger /fɪŋɡər/. In other cases "n" can optionally be pronounced /ŋ/ as in an alternative pronunciation of income as [ˈɪŋkʌm]. There are no minimal pairs in which the difference is /nk/ and /ŋk/, or /ng/ and /ŋg/.

Before /p/ or /b/ "n" can be pronounced /m/ as in an alternative pronunciation of input as [ˈɪmpʊt].[1] There are no minimal pairs in which the difference is /np/ and /mp/, or /nb/ and /mb/.

Exceptions

  • Silent n: autumn - column - condemn - hymn - solemn

N in combinations[edit]

ng

Main article: Decoding exercises: "ng"

  • as /ŋ/: hang - hanged - hanger - hanging - hangs
  • as /ŋg/: anger - finger - hungry
  • as /ng/: See IPA phoneme /n/ § Lack of assimilation
  • as /ŋk/: length - strength
  • as /ndʒ/: angel - arrange - danger - orange
gn
  • as /n/: align - champagne - foreign - sign
  • as /gn/: ignore - recognize - significant
  • as /nj/: cognac - lasagnaAmE - lasagneBrE. See also IPA phonetic symbol [ɲ]
nn
  • as /n/:
To make the vowel short (see Double consonants): connect - dinner - funny - tennis
Prefix "in", with only one "n" pronounced: innovate - innumerable
  • as /n.n/: meanness - nonnegotiable - unnecessary - unnoticed - unnumbered

Lack of assimilation[edit]

Normally "nc", "nk" and "nq" sound /ŋk/. For examples of /nk/ see IPA phoneme /n/ § Lack of assimilation.

Anticipated spelling difficulties depending on L1[edit]

Spanish[edit]

Spanish spelling requires "mb", "mp", "nf" and "nv"; "nb", "np", "mf" and "mv" are forbidden. For this reason many Spanish speakers will spell *"cramberry" or *"circunvent".

References[edit]