Pronunciation of "Ngaio"

Herb Stahlke hfwstahlke at GMAIL.COM
Sun May 10 03:06:10 UTC 2009

Referring to the Language Log posting on initial ngm, such
labio-velars are not uncommon in West African languages as part of a
series with coarticulated stops /kp/ and /gb/.  /Nm/ is less common
than the stops, but is found in Cross River languages and, IIRC, Ekoid
Bantu, but I don't have my copy of Crabbe's Ekoid Bantu Lanugages of
Ogoja handy.


On Sat, May 9, 2009 at 9:31 PM, Benjamin Zimmer
<bgzimmer at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Pronunciation of "Ngaio"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Sat, May 9, 2009 at 2:29 PM, James Harbeck <jharbeck at> wrote:
>>>i've heard
>>>people here with no clear connection to that community pronounce
>>>'Nguyen' with a word-initial [N], usually as [NaI.*n].
>> Lucky you! Here in multicultural Toronto, I've heard the same name
>> said [juN] and [nudZEn] and [nugEn]. [NaI at n] isn't quite a match to
>> the Vietnamese, either, but it's much closer (ISTR it's more like
>> [Nujn] - according to what I was told by one person bearing the
>> name). Nonetheless, I agree that the trend is towards being able (or
>> should I say willing) to pronounce the velar nasal word initially.
> For further discussion on pronunciations of both "Nguyen" and "Ngaio",
> see the comments on this Language Log post:
> --Ben Zimmer
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