Eng (letter)

This article is about the Latin letter Ŋ. For the sound it represents, see velar nasal.

Eng or engma (capital: Ŋ, lowercase: ŋ) is a letter of the Latin alphabet, used to represent a velar nasal (as in English singing) in the written form of some languages and in the International Phonetic Alphabet.


The First Grammatical Treatise, a 12th-century work on the phonology of the Old Icelandic language, uses a single grapheme for the eng sound, shaped like a g with a stroke g. Alexander Gill the Elder uses an uppercase G with a hooked tail and a lowercase n with the hooked tail of a script g ŋ for the same sound in Logonomia Anglica in 1619.[1] William Holder uses the letter in Elements of speech: An essay of inquiry into the natural production of letters, published in 1669, but it was not printed as intended; he indicates in his errata that “there was intended a character for Ng, viz., n with a tail like that of g, which must be understood where the Printer has imitated it by n or y”.[2] It was later used in Benjamin Franklin's phonetic alphabet, with its current phonetic value.


Lowercase eng is derived from n, with the addition of a hook to the right leg, somewhat like that of j. The uppercase has two variants: it can be based on the usual uppercase N, with a hook added (or "N-form"); or it can be an enlarged version of the lowercase (or "n-form"). The former is preferred in Sami languages that use it, the latter in African languages,[3] such as in Shona from 1931–1955.

Early printers, lacking a specific glyph for eng, sometimes approximated it by rotating a capital G, or by substituting a Greek eta (η) for it (encoded in Unicode as the Latin letter n with long leg: Ƞ ƞ).


Technical transcription

Vernacular orthographies

Janalif variant of eng is
represented as N with
descender. An equivalent version is
used in the Cyrillic alphabet.

Languages marked † no longer use eng, but formerly did.

Computer encoding

Eng is encoded in Unicode as U+014A LATIN CAPITAL LETTER ENG and U+014B LATIN SMALL LETTER ENG, part of the Latin Extended-A range. In ISO 8859-4 (Latin-4) it's located at BD (uppercase) and BF (lowercase).

In African languages such as Bemba, ng' (with an apostrophe) is widely used as a substitute in media where eng is hard to reproduce.

See also

Similar Latin letters:

Similar Cyrillic letters:


  1. David Crystal (2003). The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language
  2. Robert W. Albright (1958). The International Phonetic Alphabet: Its Backgrounds and Development, Indiana University. p. 11
  3. "Essay Archives and Poetry". Retrieved 10 June 2004.

External links

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