Voiced velar stop

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Strict IPA
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go /ɡəʊ/

Strict IPA


go /ɡəʊ/



go /gəʊ/

In English, both in Received Pronunciation and in General American, the IPA phonetic symbol /g/ corresponds to the initial consonant sound in words like "get" and the final one in "bag" and "egg".

/g/ is a voiced consonant; its unvoiced counterpart is IPA phoneme /k/.

In strict IPA this symbol is what is called "script lower case G" or "open tail g" (Unicode+0261), as opposed to "loop tail g": g. The normal "g" (Unicode+0067) has a loop tail only in fonts with serifs; in sans serif fonts the normal g is open tailed and Unicode+0067 and Unicode+0261 look identical. However, if you search in your browser for the sequence "g" you will not find the letter in the boxes with title "Strict IPA".

There is no risk of confusion if g is used, and the IPA has ruled that this symbol is also acceptable.[1]

Common words[edit | edit source]

Initial pronunciation of /g/:

  • game - garden - gave - gear - get - ghost - girl - give - go - good - got - grant - grass - grayAmE - great - green - greyBrE - group - guess - guitar

Final pronunciation of /g/:

  • bag - big - bug - dialogAmE - dialogue - dog - drag - drug - egg - flag - fog - leg - log - pig

Mid -word pronunciation of /g/:

  • with "g": again - ago - agree - begin - figure - luggage - organisationBrE - organization - program - programmeBrE - regard - struggle - target - together
  • with "x": auxiliary /ɔːɡˈzɪliːəriː/ - exam /ɪɡˈzæm/ - example /ɪɡˈzɑːmpəl,BrE ɪɡˈzæmpəlAmE/ - exhibit /ɪɡˈzɪbɪt/ - exhilarating /ɪɡˈzɪləreɪtɪŋ/ - exit /ˈeksɪt, ˈeɡzɪt/

Assimilation[edit | edit source]

/sg/ may be pronounced /sk/ in some words: the /g/ is devoiced because /s/ is unvoiced. Alternatively, the /s/ may become voiced, giving /zg/.

  • disgusting /dɪsˈgʌstɪŋ, dɪˈskʌstɪŋ, dɪzˈgʌstɪŋ/
  • disguise /dɪsˈgaɪz, dɪˈskaɪz, dɪzˈgaɪz/
  • disgrace /dɪsˈɡreɪs, dɪˈskreɪs[2]/

Anticipated pronunciation difficulties depending on L1[edit | edit source]

Preconceived ideas and other interferences from L1 obviously interfere in many cases with how students perceive - and pronounce - sounds/words in English. The following section aims to point out some of the most typical difficulties teachers and students may encounter regarding pronunciation.

Spanish[edit | edit source]

Spanish speakers tend not to have any problems with /g/ as an initial or mid-position consonant. However, as a final consonant, there’s a very definite tendency to pronounce it as [x], a sound which corresponds to the letter "j" in Spanish,[3]. Alternatively it may be pronounced as [ɣ].[4] I.e. instead of [ɛg] or [eg] for "egg", it’ll more likely than not come out as [ex] or [eɣ].

Likewise, as a final consonant there’s a difficulty in noticing the difference between /g/ and /k/, i.e. many people need practice in differentiating words like "bag" and "back".

And, of course, at the back of every native Spanish speaker’s mind is that nagging doubt as to whether to pronounce any "ge" or "gi" sequence they see as /dʒ/, as in age

References[edit | edit source]

  1. John Wells, The International Phonetic Alphabet in Unicode, 4 June 2012
  2. Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary, disgrace
  3. The University of Iowa: Phonetics (Click on "fricativas" and then [x])
  4. ibid. Click on "lugar", then on "dorsal" and then [ɣ].