<ñ> /ɲ/

Ballenero

Senior Member
Spaniard
Hi there,
As you know, the Spanish language has a letter that in most languages does not exist, the letter "ñ".
In the history of languages, "ñ" was a cultural leap of a Romance language that left the others behind by expressing with a single letter a sound that in other languages continues to express itself with two.
The "ñ" sounds the same as "ny" of "canyon" in English; and in French it's like "gn" of "D'artagnan".
So how do you get the sound of "ñ" in your respective languages?
What letters do you use?

Thanks for answering. Have a nice day.
 
  • TheCrociato91

    Senior Member
    Italian - Northern Italy
    Hola.

    The "ñ" sounds the same as "ny" of "canyon" in English
    Not strictly on topic, but I'll have to disagree with that. Similar but not the same. It'd be like saying that the invented word "ninio" sounds like "niño". Or that the way English native speakers pronounce "gnocchi" is the same as we do in Italian.

    So how do you get the sound of "ñ" in your respective languages?
    What letters do you use?
    In Italian we also have /ɲ/ as a phoneme and we spell it as "gn(i)", which we don't pronounce as /gn/ like in Spanish. An extra piece of information that I learned from studying Spanish as a foreign language: Italian "gn(i)" and Spanish "ñ" don't sound exactly the same because in Italian, in most positions we tend to pronounce it as a geminate sound.
     
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    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    how do you get the sound of "ñ" in your respective languages?
    In Russian Spanish "ñ" is traditionally represented as "нь", which is /nʲj/ before vowel letters (where "ñ" normally occurs). Representing it as Russian /nʲ/ ("н" before "и" and iotated vowel letters, "нь" before consonants and in the coda) would be closer, of course.
     

    Ballenero

    Senior Member
    Spaniard
    That is interesting, thanks.
    It is possible that not all languages use the same sound but I would like to know the closest one.
    In English, that "ni" of "onion" is also very close.
     

    nimak

    Senior Member
    Macedonian
    In Macedonian and Serbian Cyrillic alphabets there is a letter Њ њ which represents the sound /ɲ/.

    Н н (N n) /n/ = Spanish N n
    Њ њ
    (N n merged with a ь sign) /ɲ/ = Spanish Ñ ñ

    Examples in Macedonian:
    кон (kon) [kɔn] prep. = "toward";
    коњ (koñ) [kɔɲ] n. masc. = "horse";

    The sign ь called a "soft sign" was used in the old Cyrillic alphabets to indicate softening (palatalization) of the consonant before it (Нь нь).

    In Serbian and Croatian Latin alphabets the sound /ɲ/ is represented with Nj nj
     
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    AndrasBP

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Hungarian and Catalan are the only European languages where the sound /ɲ/ is represented by the digraph "NY":

    nyolc /ɲolts/ - eight
    lány /la:ɲ/ - girl

    Catalunya - Catalonia
    any - year
     

    apmoy70

    Senior Member
    Greek
    In Greek, the sound [ɲ] is not expressed by a single letter because:

    • It's the the product of synizesis, e.g:
    - Κoine «ἀρνίον» ărníŏn --> little lamb (neut. nom. sing.), «ἀρνία» ărníă (neut. nom. pl.) --> little lambs > MoGr «αρνιά» [arˈɲa] (neut. nom. pl.) with synizesis.
    - Latin pāgāna (fem. nom. sing. of pāgānus) --> pertaining to the countryside, rural, rustic > Byz. Gr «παγανέα» paganéa (fem. nom. sing.) --> prowl > MoGr «παγανιά» [pa.ɣaˈɲa] (fem. nom. sing.) --> pursuit, chase, trap, prowl, (regionalism) hunt, with synizesis.
    - Classical Gr «νέος, -ᾱ, -ον» néŏs (masc. nom. sing.), néā (fem. nom. sing.), néŏn (neut. nom. sing.) --> young, new > MoGr regionalism «νιος, νια, νιο» [ɲɔs] (masc.), [ɲa] (fem.), [ɲɔ] (neut.) with synizesis.
    - Classical Gr «ὄρνεον» órnĕŏn (neut. nom. sing.) --> bird > MoGr «όρνιο» [ˈɔr.ɲɔ] (neut.) --> vulture, (figuratively) stupid person with synizesis.

    • Dental palatalization before high front vowels is widely spread in the SW dialects, so [n] (and [l]) > [ɲ] (and [ʎ]) e.g:
    - Standard MoGr «οθόνη» [ɔˈθɔ.ni] (fem. nom. sing.) --> screen is pronounced [ɔˈθɔ.ɲi] in the SW dialects.
    - SMoGr «κορδόνι» [kɔrˈðɔ.ni] (neut. nom. sing.) --> cord, cable < It. cordone, becomes «γορδόνι» [ɣɔrˈðɔ.ɲi] (neut. nom. sing.) in the SW dialects.
     

    Ballenero

    Senior Member
    Spaniard
    Hungarian and Catalan are the only European languages where the sound /ɲ/ is represented by the digraph "NY":
    Interesting. Thanks.

    In Russian Spanish "ñ" is traditionally represented as "нь",
    In Macedonian and Serbian Cyrillic alphabets there is a letter Њ њ which represents the sound /ɲ/.
    I learnt something about the cyrillic alphabet. Thank you.

    It's the the product of synizesis
    Sorry, with the Greek I'm lost.
    What do you mean with "synizesis"?

    Latvian - Ņ
    Czech / Slovak - Ň
    Polish - Ń
    Portuguese - NH
    In Latvian is funny because the sign is down.
    In Czech/Slovak and in Polish is very similar to Ñ.
    Thank you very much.
     

    kaverison

    Member
    Tamil
    The sound exists in Tamil. ஞ is a nasal n that sounds like NY. It takes a more nasal sound in Malayalam, a Dravidian cousin of Tamil.

    ஞாலம் - Nyaalam = World,
    ஞானம் - Nyaanam = knowledge
    ஞாயிறு - NyaayiRu = sun

    Though colloquially, some flatten it to regular N.

    ஞ pronunciation
     

    AndrasBP

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Apart from Spanish, there's another European language that uses the letter "ñ", although in a different way:

    In Breton (Celtic language spoken in western France) the letter "ñ" indicates the nasalization of the preceding vowel, e.g. bremañ, meaning "now".
     

    Sardokan1.0

    Senior Member
    Sardu / Italianu
    In Italian it's written as GN

    Kingdom - regno
    Wood -> legno

    etc.etc.

    In Sardinian instead this sound is very rare, and most of the words where is present are loanwords from Italian.

    While most of the words that in Latin had a GN in Sardinian evolved as a double N.

    magnus -> mannu (big)
    regnum -> rennu (kingdom)
    lignum -> linna (wood)
    cognoscere -> connoschere (to know)
    signare -> sinnare (to sign)

    etc.etc.
     

    Red Arrow

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    In Dutch, nj is always pronounced [ɲ], never [nj]. Also between words: Spanje ("Spain") sounds the same as span je ("do you span?")

    The same happens with dj, tj, sj and zj, depending on the speaker.
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    Aragonese uses ny or ñ, depending on what spelling rules you choose to follow: 2 promote ny, 2 promote ñ.
     

    Agró

    Senior Member
    Spanish-Navarre
    Euskera/Basque
    Two options, too:
    • ñ (eñe) ñ
    • in: (i ene) n is pronounced as ñ in southern dialects.
    Iruñea/Iruinea/(also Iruea)
     

    Sardokan1.0

    Senior Member
    Sardu / Italianu
    Romanian also lacks the palatal consonants /ɲ ʎ/ What about the ʎ phoneme in Sardinian?
    It's practically nonexistent, it can be found only in few Spanish and Italian loanwords.

    Spanish - Sardinian
    mantilla -> mantiglia
    maravilla -> maraviglia

    In Italian loanwords like "maglia, maglietta, fogliu" (I can't remember others)
     

    Circunflejo

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Castilla
    Apart from Spanish, there's another European language that uses the letter "ñ", although in a different way
    Letting aside other languages spoken locally in Spain (like Asturian, Galician, Basque, Aragonese…), there's another European language that has letter ñ: Crimean Tartar.

    Hungarian and Catalan are the only European languages where the sound /ɲ/ is represented by the digraph "NY"
    Judaeo-Spanish could be on the list. I think that Turkish uses it too but I'm not sure.
     

    Armas

    Senior Member
    Finnish
    The sound only exists in some dialects of Finnish and there's no standard for writing them, but most often I've seen nj. For example standard Finnish meni 'he/she/it went' in Savo dialect is mänj [mæɲ].
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    The "ñ" sounds the same as "ny" of "canyon" in English
    Not strictly on topic, but I'll have to disagree with that.
    In English, that "ni" of "onion" is also very close.
    I agree with TheCrociato91 that "canyon" doesn't have this sound, and neither does "onion." We simply don't have this sound in English. We don't have it in Arabic, either. Which is why it's hard for me to produce :D (it's also hard for me to perceive the difference between [ɲ] and [nj]).
     

    Stoggler

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I agree with TheCrociato91 that "canyon" doesn't have this sound, and neither does "onion." We simply don't have this sound in English.
    Does the sound exist in Irish and (some) Scottish varieties of English, as the /ɲ/ sound exists in the respective Gaelic languages?
     

    clamor

    Senior Member
    French - France
    In French (at least in my region), /ɲ/ (which is a phoneme, cf. /aɲo/ ''lamb'' vs /ano/ ''ring'') tends to be realized as [n̪j] or perhaps [n̪ʲ], with the apex of the tongue touching the teeth.
    There is at least one other thread on this topic, but let me add that I think I hardly ever heard the palatal variant.
     
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    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Letting aside other languages spoken locally in Spain (like Asturian, Galician, Basque, Aragonese…), there's another European language that has letter ñ: Crimean Tartar
    It does, although it represents velar /ŋ/ instead.
    As for similar nazal sounds (palatal or palatalized), they are abundant in Finno-Ugric languages (Finnish being a rather unusual exception).
     
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