The palatal nasal is a type of consonant, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ɲ⟩,[1] a lowercase letter n with a leftward-pointing tail protruding from the bottom of the left stem of the letter. The equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is J. The IPA symbol ⟨ɲ⟩ is similar to ⟨ɳ⟩, the symbol for the retroflex nasal, which has a rightward-pointing hook extending from the bottom of the right stem, and to ⟨ŋ⟩, the symbol for the velar nasal, which has a leftward-pointing hook extending from the bottom of the right stem; the symbol was derived from a ligature of the digraph gn, which represents the sound in French and Italian.[2]

Palatal nasals are more common than the palatal stops [c, ɟ].[3] As mentioned above, Italian and French spell it by the digraph gn. In Spanish and languages whose writing systems are influenced by Spanish orthography, this sound is represented with the letter ñ, called eñe. Occitan uses the digraph nh, the source of the same Portuguese digraph called ene-agá, used thereafter by languages whose writing systems are influenced by Portuguese orthography, such as Vietnamese. In Catalan, Hungarian and many African languages, as Swahili or Dinka, the digraph ny is used.

The alveolo-palatal nasal is a type of consonantal sound, used in some oral languages. There is no dedicated symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound. If more precision is desired, it may be transcribed ⟨n̠ʲ⟩ or ⟨ɲ̟⟩; these are essentially equivalent, since the contact includes both the blade and body (but not the tip) of the tongue. There is a non-IPA letter ⟨ȵ⟩ ("n", plus the curl found in the symbols for alveolo-palatal sibilant fricatives ⟨ɕ, ʑ⟩), used especially in Sinological circles.

The alveolo-palatal nasal is commonly described as palatal; it is often unclear whether a language has a true palatal or not. Many languages claimed to have a palatal nasal, such as Portuguese, actually have an alveolo-palatal nasal. This is likely true of several of the languages listed here. Some dialects of Irish as well as some non-standard dialects of Malayalam are reported to contrast alveolo-palatal and palatal nasals.[4][5]

There is also a post-palatal nasal (also called pre-velar, fronted velar etc.) in some languages.


Features of the voiced palatal nasal:

  • Its manner of articulation is occlusive, which means it is produced by obstructing airflow in the vocal tract. Because the consonant is also nasal, the blocked airflow is redirected through the nose.
  • Its place of articulation is palatal, which means it is articulated with the middle or back part of the tongue raised to the hard palate.
  • 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.


Palatal or alveolo-palatal

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
!Kung[6] [example needed] Represented by ⟨ny⟩
Albanian një [ɲə] 'one'
Aranda [example needed] Alveolo-palatal and dento-alveolo-palatal.[7]
Basque andereño [än̪d̪e̞ɾe̞ɲo̞] 'female teacher'
Burmese[8] ညာ [ɲà] 'right(-hand side)' Contrasts with the voiceless palatal nasal /ɲ̥/.
Catalan[9] any [ˈaɲ̟] 'year' Alveolo-palatal or palatal.[7] See Catalan phonology
Chinese Sichuanese 女人 / nyü3 ren2 [ȵy˥˧ zən˨˩] 'woman' Alveolo-palatal
Wu 女人 / gniugnin [ȵy˩˧ȵiȵ˥˨] 'woman' Alveolo-palatal
Czech ň [kuːɲ] 'horse' May be intermediate between palatal and alveolo-palatal.[5] See Czech phonology
Dinka nyɔt [ɲɔt] 'very'
Dutch[10] oranje [oˈrɑɲə] 'orange' Not all dialects. See Dutch phonology
French[11] agneau [äˈɲo] 'lamb' Alveolo-palatal or palatal.[7] Merging with /nj/. See French phonology
Galician[12] viño [ˈbiɲo] 'wine' See Galician phonology
Greek πρωτοχρονιά / prōtochroniá [pro̞to̞xro̞ˈɲ̟ɐ] 'New Year's Day' Alveolo-palatal.[13] See Modern Greek phonology
Hungarian[14] anya [ˈɒɲɒ] 'mother' Alveolo-palatal with alveolar contact.[7] See Hungarian phonology
Italian Standard bagno [ˈbäɲːo] 'bath' Postalveolo-prepalatal.[15] See Italian phonology
Romanesco dialect niente [ˈɲːɛn̪t̪e] 'nothing'
Irish[4] inné [əˈn̠ʲeː] 'yesterday' Irish contrasts alveolo-palatal /n̠ʲ/, palatal/palatovelar /ɲ/, velar /ŋ/ and, in some dialects, palatalized alveolar /nʲ/.[16][17][18][4] See Irish phonology
Japanese[19] /niwa [n̠ʲiwᵝa] 'garden' Alveolar or dento-alveolar.[7] See Japanese phonology
Khasi bse [bsɛɲ] 'snake'
Korean 저녁 / jeonyeok [t͡ɕʌɲjʌk̚] 'evening' Alveolo-palatal. See Korean phonology
Latvian mākoņains [maːkuɔɲains] 'cloudy' See Latvian phonology
Macedonian чешање / češanje [ˈt͡ʃɛʃaɲɛ] 'itching' See Macedonian phonology
Malagasy[7] [example needed] Palatal.
Malay banyak [bäɲäʔˈ] 'a lot'
Malayalam[20] ഞാന് [ɲäːn] 'I'
Mapudungun[21] ñachi [ɲɜˈt͡ʃɪ] 'spiced blood'
North Frisian Mooring fliinj [ˈfliːɲ] 'to fly'
Norwegian Northern[22] mann [mɑɲː] 'man' See Norwegian phonology
Occitan Northern Polonha [puˈluɲo̞] 'Poland' Simultaneous alveolo-palatal and dento-alveolar or dento-alveolo-palatal.[7] See Occitan phonology
Gascon banh [baɲ] 'bath'
Polish[23] koń About this sound [kɔɲ̟]  'horse' Alveolo-palatal. May be replaced by a nasal palatal approximant in coda position or before fricatives. See Polish phonology
Portuguese Many dialects[24] nia [ˈsõ̞n̠ʲɐ] 'Sonia' Possible realization of post-stressed /ni/ plus vowel.
Brazilian[24][25] sonha [ˈsõ̞ɲɐ] 'it dreams' Central palatal, not the same that /ʎ/ which is pre-palatal.[26] May instead be approximant[27][12] in Brazil and Africa. See Portuguese phonology
European[28] arranhar [ɐʁɐ̃ˈn̠ʲaɾ] 'to scratch' Dento-alveolo-palatal.[7]
Quechua ñuqa [ˈɲɔqɑ] 'I'
Romanian Transylvanian dialects[29] câine [ˈkɨɲe̞] 'dog' Alveolo-palatal.[29] corresponds to [n] in standard Romanian. See Romanian phonology
Scottish Gaelic[30] seinn [ʃeiɲ̟] 'sing' Alveolo-palatal. See Scottish Gaelic phonology
Serbo-Croatian питање / pitanje About this sound [pǐːt̪äːɲ̟e̞]  'question' Alveolo-palatal. See Serbo-Croatian phonology
Slovak pečeň [ˈpe̞t͡ʃe̞ɲ̟] 'liver' Alveolar.[7] See Slovak phonology
Spanish[31] enseñar [ẽ̞nse̞ˈɲär] 'to teach' Simultaneous alveolo-palatal and dento-alveolar or dento-alveolo-palatal.[7] See Spanish phonology
Swahili nyama [ɲɑmɑ] 'meat'
Ukrainian тінь [t̪in̠ʲ] 'shadow' Alveolo-palatal. See Ukrainian phonology
Vietnamese nhà [ɲâː] 'house' "Laminoalveolar".[32] See Vietnamese phonology
West Frisian njonken [ˈɲoŋkən] 'next to' Phonemically /nj/. See West Frisian phonology
Yi /nyi [n̠ʲi˧] 'sit' Alveolo-palatal.
Zulu inyoni [iɲ̟óːni] 'bird' Alveolo-palatal.[7]


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
German Standard[33] ngig [ˈɡ̟ɛŋ̟ɪç] 'common' Allophone of /ŋ/ before and after front vowels;[33] the example also illustrates [ɡ̟]. See Standard German phonology
Lithuanian[34] men [ˈmʲæŋ̟k̟eː] 'cod' Allophone of /n/ before palatalized velars;[34] typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ŋʲ⟩. See Lithuanian phonology
Mapudungun[35] [example needed] Allophone of /ŋ/ before the front vowels /ɪ, e/.[35]
Polish[36][37] węgiel [ˈvɛŋ̟ɡ̟ɛl] 'coal' Allophone of /n/ before /kʲ, ɡʲ/.[36][37] See Polish phonology
Romanian[38] anchetă [äŋ̟ˈk̟e̞t̪ə] 'inquiry' Allophone of /n/ used before the palatalized allophones of /k, ɡ/.[38] Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ŋʲ⟩. See Romanian phonology
Uzbek[39] ming [miŋ̟] 'thousand' Word-final allophone of /ŋ/ after front vowels.[39]
Vietnamese [example needed] Final allophone of /ɲ/. See Vietnamese phonology
Yanyuwa[40] [l̪uwaŋ̟u] 'strip of turtle fat' Post-palatal; contrasts with post-velar [ŋ̠].[40]

See also


  1. ^ Ladefoged (2005), p. xviii.
  2. ^ International Phonetic Alphabet for French. 
  3. ^ Ladefoged (2005), p. 163.
  4. ^ a b c Ní Chasaide (1999).
  5. ^ a b Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), p. 33.
  6. ^ Doke (1925), p. ?.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Recasens (2013), p. 11.
  8. ^ Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), p. 111.
  9. ^ Carbonell & Llisterri (1992), p. 53.
  10. ^ Gussenhoven (1992), p. 46.
  11. ^ Fougeron & Smith (1993), p. 73.
  12. ^ a b Mattos e Silva (1991), p. 73.
  13. ^ Arvaniti (2007), p. 20.
  14. ^ Ladefoged (2005), p. 164.
  15. ^ Recasens et al. (1993), p. 222.
  16. ^ Quiggin (1906).
  17. ^ de Bhaldraithe (1966).
  18. ^ Mhac an Fhailigh (1968).
  19. ^ Okada (1991), p. 95.
  20. ^ Ladefoged (2005), p. 165.
  21. ^ Sadowsky et al. (2013), p. 88.
  22. ^ a b Skjekkeland (1997), pp. 105–107.
  23. ^ Jassem (2003), pp. 103–104.
  24. ^ a b Considerações sobre o status das palato-alveolares em português, p. 12.
  25. ^ Aragão (2009), p. 168.
  26. ^ Cagliari 1974, p. 77. Citation:Em português, o [ɲ] se aproxima mais do [ŋ] do que do [n]; por isso será classificado como "central" e não como pré-palatal. O [ʎ] em muitas línguas se realiza como "central"; em português, [ʎ] tende a [lj] e se realiza sempre na região prepalatal.
  27. ^ Portuguese vinho: diachronic evidence for biphonemic nasal vowels
  28. ^ Cruz-Ferreira (1995), p. 91.
  29. ^ a b Pop (1938), p. 30.
  30. ^ Oftedal (1956), p. ?.
  31. ^ Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté (2003), p. 255.
  32. ^ Thompson (1959), pp. 460.
  33. ^ a b Krech et al. (2009), pp. 49, 97.
  34. ^ a b Ambrazas et al. (1997), p. 36.
  35. ^ a b Sadowsky et al. (2013), p. 89.
  36. ^ a b Gussmann (1974), pp. 107, 111, 114.
  37. ^ a b Ostaszewska & Tambor (2000), pp. 35, 41, 86.
  38. ^ a b Sarlin (2014), p. 17.
  39. ^ a b Sjoberg (1963), p. 12.
  40. ^ a b Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), pp. 34-35.