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What is the correct British English pronunciation of the word language please?

Throughout my education in New Zealand and South Africa the first g was a soft sound as in bang? Here in Australia, on the ABC English pronunciation radio programme it is pronounced lanGuage with the first g being a hard emphasis.

Eager to learn.

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It does not make any sense to talk about “hard” or “soft” here.

Language can easily be any of these and more, depending on the speaker:

  • [ˈlæŋwɪdʒ]
  • [ˈlæŋwədʒ]
  • [ˈlæŋgwɪdʒ]
  • [ˈlæŋgwədʒ]
  • [ˈleŋwɪdʒ]
  • [ˈleŋwədʒ]
  • [ˈleŋgwɪdʒ]
  • [ˈleŋgwədʒ]

Other variants include:

  • a diphthongization of the initial vowel into [eɪ].
  • opening the initial vowel from [e] to [ɛ] or from [æ] to [a] or a more central [ɐ].
  • nasalization of the inital vowel into something like [ɛ̃], [æ̃], etc.
  • various midpoints between [ɪ] and [ə] such as [ɨ] and [ɘ].
  • loss of voicing of the final affricate [dʒ] into something closer to [tʃ].

I’m sure I’ve left some out, too.

That’s really too many variants to usefully enumerate here. Moreover, you can hear more than one of them from the very same speaker in different utterances.

This map from http://lingweb.eva.mpg.de/ can give you a good feel for the variations just for a word like hunger, where a similar situation arises.

hunger map uk

hunger map us

You can also listen to the sounds there, too. Plus those of many other words.

I hope you can see now that it doesn’t really make a bit of sense to talk of “one” pronunciation. There are all kinds of them used by native speakers, each just as “correct” as the next.

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In British RP, the first G in the word "language" isn't as soft as the G in the word "bang" (In fact, the G in "bang" is hardly pronounced) But rather, it is noticeably more emphasized, but not so much so as to produce an explosive sound as the b in bang, for example. Hope that helps.

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    In fact, most people do not pronounce any g sound at all in the word "bang"; instead they use a single sound that is like n, but with the tongue at the place where it is for g. – sumelic May 1 '15 at 2:09

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