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Labial-velar nasal

Labial-velar nasal
IPA number 119 (114)
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Kirshenbaum Nm
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The labial–velar nasal is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ŋ͡m.

The labial–velar nasal is found in West and Central Africa and eastern New Guinea.[citation needed]


Features of the labial–velar nasal:

  • Its manner of articulation is occlusive, which means it is produced by obstructing airflow in the vocal tract. Since the consonant is also oral, with no nasal outlet, the airflow is blocked entirely, and the consonant is a stop.
  • Its place of articulation is labial–velar, which means it is simultaneously articulated with the lips and with the back part of the tongue (the dorsum) against the soft palate (the velum). The dorsal closure is made and released slightly before the labial closure, but they overlap for most of their duration.
  • Its phonation is voiced, which means the vocal cords vibrate during the articulation.
  • It is a nasal consonant, which means air is allowed to escape through the nose, either exclusively (nasal stops) or in addition to through the mouth.
  • Because the sound is not produced with airflow over the tongue, the centrallateral dichotomy does not apply.
  • The airstream mechanism is pulmonic, which means it is articulated by pushing air solely with the lungs and diaphragm, as in most sounds.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Vietnamese[1] đúng [ɗʊŋ͡m] 'correct' Allophone of /ŋ/ after /u/ and /w/. See Vietnamese phonology

Rounded variant

Some languages, especially in Vanuatu, combine this labial–velar nasal with a labial–velar approximant release, hence [ŋ͡mʷ].

In the Banks Islands languages which have it, the phoneme /ŋ͡mʷ/ is written in local orthographies, using a macron on the corresponding bilabial. In other languages of Vanuatu further south (such as South Efate, or [[Lenakel language#REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect.Lenakel]]), the same segment is spelled with a combining tilde.

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Lakon uä [uŋ͡mʷæ] 'house' Labial-velar phoneme with approximant release
Mwesen[2] tasar [taŋ͡mʷsar] 'person' Labial-velar phoneme with approximant release
Dorig[3] sar [ŋ͡mʷsar] 'poor' Labial-velar phoneme with approximant release
Lenakel[4] noanəɨk [noanəŋ͡mʷɨk] 'egg yolk' Labial-velar phoneme with approximant release

See also


  1. ^ See pp.458–461 of: Thompson, Laurence (1959), "Saigon phonemics", Language 35 (3): 454–476, JSTOR 411232, doi:10.2307/411232 .
  2. ^ See p.200 of François, Alexandre (2013), "Shadows of bygone lives: The histories of spiritual words in northern Vanuatu", in Mailhammer, Robert, Lexical and structural etymology: Beyond word histories, Studies in Language Change 11, Berlin: DeGruyter Mouton, pp. 185–244 .
  3. ^ See pp.430 of: François, Alexandre (2010), "Phonotactics and the prestopped velar lateral of Hiw: Resolving the ambiguity of a complex segment", Phonology 27 (3): 393–434, doi:10.1017/s0952675710000205 
  4. ^ See pp.89 of: Nehrbass, Kenneth. A Comprehensive Comparison of Lexemes in the Major Languages of Tanna, Vanuatu. SIL.