There seems to be a habit of dropping /ŋ/ initials in topolects/dialects for fear of seeming like a redneck.


  • Canto: 屋 nguk1 vs. uk1 [the new ABC Cantonese dictionary only gives the uk1 even]

  • Southwest Mandarin: 欧 ngou1 vs. ou1

Some claim this is 老派 vs. 新派 but from my experience it's been considered 土 vs. 洋.

Why does the /ŋ/ initial give people a hillbilly-type feeling?

  • Can you provide a citation for this consideration? And where is this attitude held, Hong Kong, Guangdong, or some other place? Among younger people or older? – congusbongus Jan 3 '18 at 5:38
  • @congusbongus I'll see if I can find anything that backs up my consideration, might be tough, though. – Mou某 Jan 3 '18 at 8:21
  • zhihu.com/question/23541509 除了老一辈,你是找不到发/ng/音的 -- maybe something like that but slightly off topic really – Mou某 Jan 3 '18 at 8:24
  • There are so many /ŋ/ initials in our Xi'an dialect, like 我 nge, 安 ngan, 欧 ngou, etc. – 賈可 Jacky Feb 2 '18 at 16:18
  • @賈可Jacky is it considered 土? – Mou某 Feb 2 '18 at 16:52

I noticed that there's a tendency to drop initial /ŋ/ in Wu (Shanghainese), but I always ascribed it to the proximity of the word to Mandarin:

Mandarin: wo3
Wu: (吾) ngu34

Mandarin: wai4
Wu: nga53

Whereas it is clearly voiced when it occurs in more language-specific words or single syllables (obviously):

Mandarin: ying4
Wu: ngang53

Mandarin: wu3
Wu: ng34

Mandarin: yu2
Wu: ng34

  • How about any stigma attached to /ŋ/ initials in Wu? Does it sound more "土"? – Mou某 Jan 3 '18 at 12:25
  • I believe it's exactly the opposite: they are very proud people and outside of their home they speak dialect whenever they can as a sign of belonging. They even do it in formal circumstances. – blackgreen Jan 3 '18 at 12:45

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