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I have noticed that some American-born native English speakers pronounce -ing |ŋ| as -inG |ŋg| , at the end of a word, and I would really like to know why, or which groups have this characteristic. I've only heard it in isolated individuals, which seems odd.

What I'm talking about is pronouncing, for example, "winning" as "winningG," like really pronouncing the G at the end. When I pronounce "winning," the G is pretty subtle. I do not drop the G and say it like "winnin'"; the G is just subtle. And most people I talk to also say it like I do. I was born in Ohio but have lived in coastal California since the age of 6.

The two main people who stand out to me as saying "winningG" are women I met in totally different places. One grew up in Hawaii and one grew up in Connecticut and southern California, and coincidentally, they both had one Jewish parent; I don't know if that has anything to do with this. I have not noticed any other notable differences in their accent as compared to a typical white upper-middle-class California accent.

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – tchrist
    Jul 21, 2021 at 0:32

2 Answers 2

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The only specific type of American English that I have heard described as having [ŋg] in place of [ŋ] is a certain kind of New York accent. See the prior question “ng” in “wrong of me” pronounced [ŋɡ]

The commonly cited example is "Long Island" with [ŋg].

However, Araucaria's answer to the question Why do some people pronounce "singer" as "singGer"? says "many varieties of USA English" may show [ŋɡ] in this kind of context.

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  • Yes, all that is fine but I know of no AmE accent that pronounces the ing in verbs as nga. Sure, Long Island, with a hard g.
    – Lambie
    Jun 27, 2021 at 18:31
  • @Lambie no one pronounces ing as "nga." It's more like ing-g, or ink with a slight vocalization of the final G sound. This is definitely present in some Long Island speakers. Jun 28, 2021 at 7:52
  • Everyone will describe this differently. For me, Long Island with that accent creates a kind of "a" sound after the hard g. By the way, I know all these accents having lived for ages in and around NYC for too many years.
    – Lambie
    Jun 28, 2021 at 13:24
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On vowel-nasal-plosive syllable rimes

While I can't tell which groups do what you allege, I can tell you that it is not permitted under the normal phonotactic rules that apply to Modern English.

That's because that if a syllable ends in a nasal and a plosive, that plosive must be either of the two coronal plosives (/t/, /d/) or else it must be the unvoiced plosive whose place of articulation is the same as that of the nasal used. Specifically:

  • If it's the coronal nasal /n/, then only the two coronal stops, /t/ and /d/, are allowed, such as in sent and send. You can't use any labial or velar stop with /n/.

  • If it's the labial nasal /m/, then besides the coronal stops (such as in dreamt or schemed), /p/ is also allowed because it's the unvoiced labial plosive to go with the labial nasal, /m/, such as in bump.

  • If it's the velar nasal /ŋ/, then besides the coronal stops, /k/ is also allowed because it's the unvoiced velar plosive to go with the velar nasal, /ŋ/, such as in bank.

Therefore the only voiced plosive that can end a syllable following a nasal is /d/. You cannot have voiced -VNg or -VNb in Modern English, only unvoiced -VNk or -VNp.


Notes

Words like lamb and dumb and tomb use an orthography that was set way back when we could still say other voiced stops in that position.

In singer there is no plosive, while with finger the voiced plosive is attributed to the start of the next syllable, not to the end of this one.

That’s also what’s happening with the stereotypical "long giland" pronunciation mentioned elsewhere on this page, with the /g/ appearing not at the end of the syllable with the nasal but rather at the next syllable following it.

Related.

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  • I made a half-assed attempt to answer this Q. This is the best expression and most authoritative answer of the issue that I can imagine. Jun 27, 2021 at 20:06
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    @Cascabel The three-way contrast of the English nasal phonemes /m/ vs /n/ vs /ŋ/ is neutralized in the coda due to mandatory regressive assimilation to the place of articulation of the following consonant. Notice this happening in Spanish, too, where phonemic /n/ is realized as [m] before labial consonants but as [ŋ] before velar ones; hence invierno [imˈbjeɾno], ánfora [ˈaɱfoɾa], encía [en̟ˈθi.a], antes [ˈan̪t̪es], ancha [ˈanʲtʃa], cónyuge [ˈkoɲɟʝuxe], rincón [riŋˈkon], enjuto [eɴˈχut̪o]. Some English linguists propose a nasal archiphoneme |N| to explain all this.
    – tchrist
    Jun 27, 2021 at 20:33
  • Interesting...as I am in daily contact with some of the top simultaneous translators in my country I would like to see some kind of link to LA SP ...I assume this is not on DRAE. Jun 27, 2021 at 20:38
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    @Cascabel Nearly all (Latin-)American Spanish dialects are seseante ones and thus lack the phonemic dental /θ/ of those with non-seseo distinción, and a lot of them also lack the [χ] allophone of phonemic /x/ before back vowels, but the rest is all the same as listed above. For starters I would recommend the region-specific details given here about this matter.
    – tchrist
    Jun 27, 2021 at 20:48
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    @Cascabel The footnotes in this link provides numerous low-level regional details about which IPA/AFI symbols to use for the various allophones that apply only in particular environments. Notice they list ten (10!!) different nasal allophones in the Nasal row!
    – tchrist
    Jun 27, 2021 at 21:04

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