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?


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.

  • 14
    There are some British accents which do pronounce the [g]: Birmingham/Black Country, for example. – Andrew Leach Oct 18 '12 at 17:54
  • 1
    Andrew is quite right. Some Liverpudlian accents also pronounce the g – itsbruce Oct 18 '12 at 19:00
  • 1
    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
  • 3
    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
  • 1
    @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

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.