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Some people pronounce the g at the end of words like spring and listening as [g] (as in guard) instead of [ŋ]. First, I thought only some Russians tend to do this, but the other day I heard a British person doing the same thing in a recording.

Now I'm confused. Which is correct?

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1 Answer 1

The g that is part of the ng digraph in words ending with -ng should always be pronounced as [ŋ], never as [g].

In fact, one of the only places where it gets pronounced kind of that way is in finger, where in fact you have both: [ŋg]. Notice how that is in the middle of the word. You never do that at the end of a word; an English mouth rebels against that combo.

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There are some British accents which do pronounce the [g]: Birmingham/Black Country, for example. – Andrew Leach Oct 18 '12 at 17:54
Andrew is quite right. Some Liverpudlian accents also pronounce the g – itsbruce Oct 18 '12 at 19:00
Various Australian accents pronounce something and anything as with a final [k], i.e., a devoiced [g] (e.g., somethi[ŋk]). – Daniel Harbour Oct 18 '12 at 19:15
Final velar ŋg clusters, like final labial mb clusters, lost the stop (sing, thumb) long ago, leaving only the nasal. This made /ŋ/ a phoneme in English, contrasting with /ŋg/ in finger, which doesn't rhyme with singer. In fact, there's a minimal pair: longer meaning 'more long' has /ŋg/, whereas longer meaning 'one who longs' has only /ŋ/. – John Lawler Oct 18 '12 at 20:18
@Mitch The singer and ringer pattern is much more common than the one in finger and linger, but once you relax the -inger restriction, /ŋg/ occurs in many other words: angle, bingo, congress, English, fungus, gangrene, hunger, etc. Compare clinger, dinger, finger, flinger, linger, minger, pinger, ringer, stinger, swinger, winger, zinger versus ginger, harbinger, infringer, porringer, wharfinger. – tchrist Oct 21 '12 at 13:08

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