I'm a non-native speaker and I have always pronounced all words with syllables ending in 'n' followed by a /k/ sound with the velar nasal /ŋ/. For example:
think / increase (v+n) / income / incomplete.
This was just acquired naturally without any intentional training. (I understand that words ending with 'nk' like 'think' do get the velar /ŋ/ sound, and that's something that gets explained to ESL learners).
I was surprised when I recently found out that many of these words are transcribed as /nk/ rather than /ŋk/ in the dictionaries (Oxford, Cambridge, Merriam-Webster for example), and I have a few questions about it:
- Do all of you native speakers follow these dictionary patterns, or are there some among you who follow a pattern similar to mine?
- What's the difference or the rule that makes a word like 'inkling' get an /ŋ/ while a word like 'include' get an /n/? And generally is there rules for which words with 'nk'/'nc' sequences get an /n/ sound and which get an /ŋ/ sound?
- I played the word 'conclude' repeatedly on different dictionaries, and they all sound as having an /ŋ/ to my ear. Are these dictionary transcriptions universally accurate!? Do you hear it as an /n/ when you listen to it? Can native speakers normally distinguish the two sounds in all contexts?
- When I say a word like 'conclude' I find it much easier to pronounce it with an /ŋ/, because with an /n/sound it's switching from a velar to an alveolar and back to velar, while with an /ŋ/ sound it's all velar. Do you native speakers pronounce it with an /n/ sound?!
- For people with ESL teaching experience among you, do you bring up this topic with your students?
(And thanks for your patience!)