Nasal sounds, such as /m/, /n/, and /ɳ/, are produced when air flows through the nasal cavity while the soft palate (velum) is lowered, allowing air to pass through both the oral and nasal passages. Here’s a breakdown of each sound:
Table of Contents
This sound is a bilabial nasal consonant, meaning it is produced by closing both lips. The sound is voiced, which means the vocal cords vibrate during its production. To make the /m/ sound, you close your lips and let the air flow out through your nose. Examples of words with the /m/ sound include “mama,” “more,” and “time.”
This sound is an alveolar nasal consonant, produced by touching the tip of the tongue to the alveolar ridge (the area just behind the upper front teeth). Like /m/, /n/ is a voiced sound. To produce the /n/ sound, the airflow is directed through the nasal passage while the tip of the tongue is in contact with the alveolar ridge. Words like “nice,” “not,” and “sun” contain the /n/ sound.
This sound is a retroflex nasal consonant, which means the tongue curls back or retroflexes during its production. It is not commonly found in English, but it exists in some languages. To make the /ɳ/ sound, the tip of the tongue is curled back and touches the roof of the mouth towards the back. There are no common English words that begin with /ɳ/, but it can occur in certain positions within words in some dialects.
These nasal sounds are an integral part of many languages, and their specific pronunciation can vary slightly depending on the language and dialect.
These sounds are described as nasals because air flows out through the nose as they are produced. They are peculiar in the sense that their sounds come out entirely through the nasal cavity.
/m/ /n/ /ɳ/
Man neat sing
Mock new ring
Some snow wrong
Bossom annoy long
Summer can hanging
Mess cleaner shrunk