ng as in Inger & Young Shin

sceplog_inger_youngshinAmong all the first and last names of our SCEP tutors this year, only two feature the velar nasal /ŋ/, and these belong to our visitors from overseas, Inger Mees and Young Shin Kim.

Inger comes to us from Denmark, and tells me that in Danish her name is phonemicized as /ˈeŋə/. The first vowel in Danish sounds rather like the English KIT vowel /ɪ/, which is handy as that’s the vowel English speakers will readily choose on the basis of the spelling:

(The final -r is unpronounced in Denmark, just as in England; see SCEPLog 5.)

Young Shin (영신) comes from Korea; the first syllable of her name, which can also be spelled Yeong, sounds in Korean rather like English young, /jʌŋ/:

(English shin /ʃɪn/ is a less close match for the second syllable in Korean.)

In English as in Danish and Korean, /ŋ/ is a fully-fledged phoneme which can appear without a following /k/ or /g/. This can be tricky for some non-natives to pronounce, especially when a vowel follows, as in lo/ŋ/ago or goi/ŋ/out.

There’s a general rule in English that /ŋ/ doesn’t appear before a vowel which is in the same morpheme (word-part). So finger, a single morpheme, is /ˈfɪŋgə/, while singer, made up of two morphemes, sing + er, is /ˈsɪŋə/. However, there are exceptions like hangar which is commonly pronounced /ˈhæŋə/ despite being a single morpheme. So a name like Inger might go either way. In my recording above, I said /ˈɪŋə/, approximating Inger’s own pronunciation.

Note that if we say Young Shin’s full name, Young Shin Kim, the /n/ of Shin may assimilate to the /k/ of Kim, giving Young Shi/ŋ/Kim: