Hard and soft G

A hard "g" vs. a soft "g" is a feature that occurs in many languages, including English, in which two distinct major sounds (phonemes) are represented by the Latin letter "g". A hard "g" is typically (but not always) pronounced as a voiced plosive, while a soft "g" is frequently pronounced as a fricative or affricate. In the case of English, hard and soft "g" sounds are almost always represented by IPA| [g] (like in "gargle"), and usually represented by IPA| [ʤ] (like in "George"), respectively.


General overview

General rules/characteristics

In English, the hard "g" is the sound of the "g" in "get", "give" and "gallon" (IPA|/g/), as distinct from the soft "g" in "gentle" and "giant" (IPA|/ʤ/). In words generally encountered that are entirely of Romance origin, or partly so (such as all or some of a particular word being derived from French, which is further derived from Latin, and which is ultimately derived from Greek), "g" is usually soft when it occurs immediately before the letters "e", "i" and "y", while the hard "g" occurs in other positions. In words generally encountered that are of purely Germanic origin, "g" is usually hard. For other words generally encountered that are of purely non-Romance/non-Germanic origin, "g" is typically (but not always) hard.

Notable semi-exceptions include a significant number of words of strictly Old English/Middle English origin which contain a "dg(e)" letter combination pronounced as a soft "g", such as "ridge", "bridge", "wedge", and "badge", as well as some words of Greco-Romance origin which contain both a hard and soft "g" such as "gynecology". (Other notable irregularities include "margarine", pronounced with a soft "g"; "gaol" and "gaoler", alternative spellings of "jail" and "jailer" but respectively pronounced the same; as well as a few American English spellings such as "judgment" and "abridgment", pronounced the same as the more-common-in-British English spellings "judgement" and "abridgement".)

"g" versus "c"; “neatness/intuitiveness” issues

English orthography presents many challenges due to its very irregular spelling pattern, despite many "general rules" that exist within English. The pronunciation behavior of the letter "g" in English can be especially challenging to master due to a number of factors. It also forms a notable contrast to the pronunciation situation with the letter "c", which likewise has hard and soft variants. In essence, "g" presents itself as "significantly orthographically messier" than "c" in English. Why is this?

Firstly, as previously alluded to, both hard and soft "g" do frequently appear before "e", "i", and "y" in English — unlike, analogously, with the letter "c", which is almost never hard before those letters in English. This leads to a "somewhat messier" situation with "g" as opposed to "c" in regards to "visually clueing" the reader as to when "g" is hard or soft. It is true, again, that words of strictly non-Romance origin tend to only contain g's which are hard, and words derived from Romance sources generally have soft g's before "e", "i", and "y" (and hard g's elsewhere). A word such as "together", for example, seems to look non-Romance (as opposed to words such as "general" and "religious"), and even more so due to the "th" letter combination within it (although "th" does appear in some words derived from Romance sources, such as "discotheque" and "cathedral").

Thus, the "g" in "together", despite being immediately before an "e", is "clued" to be pronounced hard (that is, as IPA|/g/). (And, our clue here is still just a strong hunch, but yet a good hunch for us if we weren't totally sure how to pronounce this word.) However, in a word like "target", the Romance–versus–non-Romance nature of this word (and subsequent clueing of how to pronounce the "g" within it) is not so visually apparent.

(The word "target" actually entered Modern English from Middle English, which derived it from Middle French, which derived it from Old French, which borrowed it from Germanic sources. It is pronounced with a hard "g". A somewhat humorous anecdote regarding this word, which makes a strong pass at illustrating the blurring of the hard/soft orthographic dichotomy with "g" in English, is found with the name of the American discount department store chain Target. Due to its "cheap chic" merchandise selection, Target's name is sometimes sardonically or endearingly pronounced not as "TARG-itt" IPAEng|ˈtɑrgɪt, but with the pseudo-French pronunciation "tar-ZHAY" IPA|/tɑrˈʒeɪ/ — most notably here, replacing the hard "g" with a soft "g" [albeit a French one] .)

Secondly, it is also noteworthy that unlike the letter "c", which also has hard and soft variants "and" to which there is an English letter which consistently has the hard-"c" sound — namely, "k" — the letter "g" has no analogous letter which consistently has the hard-"g" sound. This second issue (along with some of the just-mentioned first issue) leads to special issues regarding the "neatness" of orthography when we add suffixes to words which end in a hard-"g" sound.

Getting back to "c", we can create the combination "ck" which consistently carries the hard-"c" sound of IPA|/k/. When words are developed which end with "ck", such as "pick", the addition of suffixes beginning with "e", "i", or "y" — such as "picker", "pickiest", and "picky" — gives the reader (who has a pronunciation knowledge of the root word being suffixed, and at least a basic reading level of English) a very intuitive feeling of how the "suffixed" word is still pronounced. In other words, the "k" "insulates" the "c" in these words from being immediately next to "e", "i", and "y", and thus we still "clearly know" that the root component of these suffixed words still ends in a IPA|/k/ sound, and also has no IPA|/s/ or "soft-"c" sound added next to it. In fact, in certain root words that end in "c" as opposed to "ck", such as "panic" and "frolic", we replace their final-letter "c" with a "ck" when we add suffixes to them, such as with the suffixed words "panicked" and "frolicking" — thus still communicating the same "IPA|/k/-sound preservation" idea.

(Also, the "ck" in these just-mentioned suffixations [such as "picky" and "frolicking"] acts as a set of marker letters to help indicate that the vowel immediately before the "ck" keeps its same pronunciation, and doesn't become a long vowel. The same vowel-preservation-message effect is also achieved by the doubled consonants as found in the suffixed forms "spinning", "crabby", "clammy", and "baggily". [If Modern English had evolved to be more tolerant of words ending in a "k" which isn't immediately preceded by a double-vowel combination, as well as much more tolerant of the "kk" letter combination, we could have developed (at least in theory) English spellings such as "pikk", "pikky", "froli(k)k", and "froli(k)king" — and the "kk" in such words would arguably typically be as "clean and intuitive" as "ck" is.] Regarding the "baggily" example just shown, a key issue regarding the doubling of a root-word-final "g" [or, "instead", making a "related" letter combination as an alternative to a root-ending "gg", "such as" "gh"] to aid in "reader-friendly suffixation" follows next.)

What is now worth mentioning at this point is that there reasonably appears to be no analogous "g"-containing letter combination — or even a combination containing no "g" at all — that we can create to aid in the "equally clean and intuitive" suffixation and pronunciation of words with roots that end with the hard-"g" (as opposed to hard-"c") sound. For example, we could double the root-word-final "g" (which is usually what we actually do when we add suffixes to "g"-ending words, such as with "bag" "bagging" "and" "hog" "hoggishness"), or make a non-doubled-letter digraph such as "gh" (leading to spellings such as "fogh", "hogh", "foghy", and "hoghing" instead of "fog", "hog", "foggy", and "hogging"). However, the "neatness nature" of letter combinations such as "gg"/"gh" placed right before a suffix — even if such combinations occur as a result of inventing "suffixation-ready" novel root forms such as "fogg" or "hogh" — is still "not quite as elegant and intuitive" as we get with the "ck" combination (where it serves an analogous purpose and occupies an analogous spatial position to the root-final "gg"/"gh" we just talked about) in words such as "picky", "slacker", and "mimicking".

(The potential extent of the "neatness/intuitiveness" issue explicitly involving the use of "gg" is, however, heavily lessened due to the fact that in English, "gg" within words/names is usually pronounced IPA|/g/ wherever encountered. Exceptions to such pronunciation, such as in the word "suggest" or in the name "DiMaggio", are only modestly encountered in English-language communication. A little more regarding the "gg" letter combination is mentioned later in this article.)

Finally, opposed to "c", there are also more special-letter combinations containing "g" that one must "rote learn" to pronounce correctly, including some "rather messy" ones such as the "ough" combination which can be pronounced numerous ways and is notorious among those learning English as a foreign language. Yet, much more often than not, the letter "g", where found within English words and in conjunction with other letters, triggers a strong level of intuition — frequently very strong — to clue the reader (with at least a basic reading level of English) to the correct pronunciation of it in the words that it appears in. This is due to rules of thumb and general patterns that govern its pronunciation, despite the many irregularities involved.


There are many English words that end in a hard-"g" sound (such as "bag", "fog", "rag", and "pig"), and suffixation of them creates a few general patterns to make note of. For English words whose root word ends in hard "g" which have the "-ed", "-ing", "-er", "-est", "-ism", "-ist", "-edness", "-ish(ness)", or "-(l)y"–related (including "-ily", "-iness", "-ier", "-iest", "-ingly", "-edly", and "-ishly") suffixes added — such as "bagged/bagging/baggy/baggier/baggily/bagginess/baggiest", "bigger/biggest", "hoggish/hoggishly/hoggingly/hoggishness", "Piggly" within "Piggly Wiggly" (assuming that "Piggly" comes from a modification of "pig", and "not" as a result of making an adjectival or adverbial form of a "shadow nonce word" "piggle"), "road-hoggism", "ruggedly/ruggedness", and "druggist" — the hard-"g" sound at the end of the root word is retained, and no soft-"g" sound is added. For example, "bagged" is pronounced IPA|/bægd/, "not" as IPA|/ˈbæːʤ(ə)d/ nor as IPA|/ˈbægːʤ(ə)d/. (English root words ending in "g" are commonly of Germanic origin; adding the aforementioned suffixes to them maintains the Germanic-pattern, hard-final-"g" sound in the root component of these suffixed Germanic words.)

The root-word-final "g" for these types of words (with the aforementioned suffixes) is, as a general rule, doubled (for example, "bag" "bagg" + "ed"), creating an endocentric digraph, and yielding spellings such as "bagged/bagging". Furthermore, in regards to pronunciation, the doubled "g" does not result in a geminated (that is, elongated) "g" sound (i.e., with "bagged", we don't get the pronunciation IPA|/bægːd/ when we double the root-word-final "g"). (There are occasional exceptions to the doubled-letter spelling rule just mentioned, such as when adding the "-ly" suffix in some instances, which are explained later.)

A silent e sometimes occurs at the end of a word — or at the end of a component root word that is part of a larger word — with "g" immediately before the silent "e". In this situation, the "e" usually serves a marking function that helps to indicate that the "g" immediately before it is soft. Examples include "image" and "management". (Such a silent "e" may further serve a marking function of helping to indicate that a vowel which appears immediately before that "g" — or the "first" vowel which appears before that "g" — is pronounced as a long vowel, as in "rage", "oblige", and "range". When a vowel appears immediately before a "dge" combination, this vowel is typically short, as in "bridge" and "fudge".)

For suffixed words (generally Romance-derived) which are derived from root words ending in "ge" in where the "g" has a soft-"g" sound and the "e" is silent (e.g., root words such as "change", "manage", and "image"), the addition of the aforementioned suffixes (yielding words such as "changing", "manager", and "Imagism/Imagist") follows this general spelling and pronunciation rule: the final "e" of the root word is dropped, and the root word (what remains of it) retains its original pronunciation. This includes the retention of the soft-"g" sound immediately before the dropped "e" and added suffix; e.g., "change" [IPA|/ʧeɪnʤ/] "changing" [IPA|/ˈʧeɪnʤɪŋ/] ) — and this soft-"g" retention is in alignment with the general rule for Romance words: specifically, pronunciation of a soft "g" before "e", "i", or "y".

Adding "s" to the end of the just-mentioned types of root words ending in "-ge" (e.g., "change" "changes") to create a plural or third-person-singular form follows this general rule: no letters are dropped and the root word retains its original pronunciation, but the "es" at the end of the word is pronounced IPA|/əz/ (e.g., "change" IPA|/ˈʧeɪnʤ/ "changes" IPA|/ˈʧeɪnʤəz/).

Essentially stated, when you add a suffix which starts with "e", "i", or "y" to the aforementioned types of root words, you generally get the aforementioned suffixation patterns (with some neologisms notably sometimes excepted: for example, a proponent of frequent change might be labeled a "Changist" or, perhaps instead, a "Changeist" [the latter with an added "e"] , depending on the spelling style preferred by a particular organization, or personal spelling preferences, and so forth). For adding specific suffixes (to such root words) which start with "e", "i", or "y" but which "weren't" just mentioned (such as "-ify" and "-ize"/"-ise") — as might occasionally be added to root forms in order to create rarely-used words or neologisms — check with a dictionary, style guide, or other reliable source(s) for information and clues as to the proper suffixation form.

(For example, "bag" + "-ify" can yield "bagify" [with one "g"] in some computer-programming contexts, or be spelled "baggify" [with two g's] in some other contexts. Also, it is worth noting that the addition of suffixes [to the aforementioned types of root words] which "don't" begin with "e", "i", or "y" frequently "don't" cause a doubling of a root-word-final "g" nor cause any dropping of letters [e.g., "smug" + "-ness" "smugness"; "arrange" + "-ment" "arrangement"] . However, there are cases here in where the "g" is doubled when the suffix is added, although no letters are dropped [e.g., "hug" + "-able" "huggable"] . More on the suffixation of neologisms, and more on a few other special-suffixation cases [beyond letter-doubling issues] , follows later.)

In a few suffixes such as "-gion" and "-gious", the letter "i" frequently acts as a silent letter and a marker vowel to help indicate that the "g" before it is soft, due to a sound-omission evolution called elision. Examples include "region", "contagious", and — depending on pronunciation preference — "vestigial" (the "-gial" in it can be pronounced as IPA|/ʤɪəl/ or as IPA|/ʤəl/).

There are several cases in English in where two or more words are derived from the same root component(s), and one or more of them have a hard-"g" sound at or towards the end of the word, but one or more "other" word(s) built from the same root component(s) have a soft-"g" sound for the analogous "g" that appears in them. For example, contrast "analog(ue)" and "analogous" (both with a hard "g") vs. "analogy" (has a soft "g"); –and– "prodigal" (has a hard "g") vs. "prodigy" and "prodigious" (both with a soft "g"). In all these cases, "g" is soft before "i" and "y", but hard before "a", "o", and "u", which mimics a general pattern found for Romance-origin words. (The suffix "-logy" entered French by way of Latin and ultimately from Greek, it should be noted.)

"ng", "gg", and "dg" letter combinations


The "ng" two-letter combination in English frequently forms an exocentric digraph which indicates a "single" phone — as found in the word "sing" — that is different from either the IPA|/n/ or hard-"g" IPA|/g/ sound. It is represented in the as IPA|/ŋ/, and is described as a velar nasal sound. It is similarly found in the words "singer" and "ringer", which are pronounced as IPA|/ˈsɪŋə/ (British English) or IPA|/ˈsɪŋɚ/ (American English), and IPA|/ˈrɪŋə/ (British English) or IPA|/ˈrɪŋɚ/ (American English), respectively. However, in a few words, "ng" can represent a two-phoneme IPA|/ŋg/ (that is, "IPA|/ŋ/" + hard-"g" "IPA|/g/") sound, or a two-phoneme IPA|/ng/ (that is, "IPA|/n/" + hard-"g" "IPA|/g/", absent of any "IPA|/ŋ/") sound, or the two-phoneme, three-phone IPA|/nʤ/ (that is, "IPA|/n/" + soft-"g" "IPA|/ʤ/") sound (the latter more commonly found in words ultimately of Romance origin).

Despite their rhyming nature to the last two word examples, IPA|/ŋg/ examples are found in "finger" and "linger"; they are pronounced as IPA|/ˈfɪŋgə/ (British English) or IPA|/ˈfɪŋgɚ/ (American English), and IPA|/ˈlɪŋgə/ (British English) or IPA|/ˈlɪŋgɚ/ (American English), respectively. Other words with the IPA|/ŋg/ sound are "England", "angle", "bungle", and "jungle". The IPA|/ng/ examples are occasionally found in some words, especially in compound words such as "shinguard" and "Wingate", where the "ng" is formed by combining two separate root words. "Penguin" is a non-compound example where "ng" is also pronounced this way (although it may have derived from the Welsh compound construction "pen gwyn", meaning "white head", referring to its winter plumage). In careful speech, these words are pronounced as IPA|/ˈʃɪnˌgɑːd/ (British English) or IPA|/ˈʃɪnˌgɑɹd/ (American English); IPA|/ˈwɪnˌgeɪt/; and IPA|/ˈpɛngwɪn/, respectively, although in normal speech, the "ng" is realized as IPA|/ŋg/, due to anticipatory assimilation.

(This just-mentioned linguistic phenomenon of anticipatory assimilation with "n" + hard "g" can also occur across adjacent word boundaries. For example, in the American historical phrase "As Maine goes, so goes the nation", the words "Maine goes", in careful speech, are pronounced "MAIN–goes", but in normal speech, are pronounced "MANG-goes" [that is, in this latter example, pronounced like the word "mangoes"] . In other words, the "n" essentially yields the IPA|/ŋ/ sound, but the "g" retains its normal hard sound, in this just-mentioned example involving normal speech.)

The IPA|/nʤ/ example is found in significant numbers of words such as "danger" (IPA|/ˈdeɪnʤə/ in British Received Pronunciation; IPA|/ˈdeɪnʤɝ/ in US pronunciation) and "tangent" (IPA|/'tænʤənt/). "Ng" appearing at the "end" of any English word (such as "sing", "hanging", and "morning") is invariably pronounced IPA|/ŋ/.

Root words ending in "ng" almost invariably neither double the root-word-final "g" if a suffix is added to them, nor usually add (at least in standard dialects) a hard-"g" sound immediately after the root word in such cases (e.g., the present participle of "bring" is "bringing", and it is pronounced IPA|/ˈbrɪŋɪŋ/, not IPA|/ˈbrɪŋgɪŋ/). (Invariably, no soft-"g" sound, either, accompanies the root-word-final "ng" as a result of such suffixation; that is, we don't get a pronunciation, revisiting the last example, such as "BRIN-jing".) A pronunciation exception is found in "longer/longest" and "stronger/strongest", in where the "ng" may be pronounced either as IPA|/ŋ/ or as IPA|/ŋg/ (i.e., IPA|/ˈlɒŋ(g)ə/ [British English] "or" IPA|/ˈlɔːŋ(g)ɚ/ [US pronunciation] ; IPA|/ˈlɒŋ(g)əst/ [British English] "or" IPA|/ˈlɔːŋ(g)ɚst/ [US pronunciation] ; etc.).


The "gg" letter combination frequently forms an endocentric digraph pronounced as a single hard "g" (that is, IPA|/g/). It is not only found in aforementioned suffixed words such as "bagged/bagginess", but in many others, including English proper names, such as in "egg", "dagger", and "Briggs". However, the word "suggest" and derivatives of it (such as "suggestion" and "suggestive") follow a normal, Romance-origin pattern for the "gg" within them: the first "g" is hard, and the second one is soft (e.g., IPA|/səgˈʤɛst/ — "although" the hard "g" may be dropped when pronouncing "suggest" and its derivatives due to elision, thus yielding IPA|/səˈʤɛst/, etc.).

The "gg" in the word “exaggerate” and its derivatives such as “exaggeration”, however, is pronounced as just a single soft-"g" sound, with no hard-"g" sound being part of the "gg" digraph (e.g., “exaggerate” is pronounced “igg-ZADGE-er-ate”, but not as “igg-ZAG-jer-ate”). The slang term “veggies,” short for “vegetables”, has a similar pronunciation phenomenon with its double "g". (Relatedly here, two of the commonly-spelled, derived forms of the slang term “veg out” — specifically, “vegged out” and “vegging out” — plus the sometimes-used, third-person-singular derivative spelling “vegges out” — also all show a similar pronunciation phenomenon with their double g’s. More on “veg [out] ” follows shortly.)

In some proper names encountered in the Anglosphere, a few other variants can be found, such as "Ringgold" being pronounced IPA|/ˈrɪŋˌgoʊld/ "or" IPA|/ˈrɪŋˌgəʊld/ (the "ng" forms a single phone IPA|/ŋ/, followed by a hard-"g" sound contributed by the second "g"); SIGGRAPH pronounced IPA|/ˈsɪːˌgːræf/ (the hard-"g" sound is not doubled, but it undergoes [and the vowel sound right before it also undergoes] elongation — a process referred to as gemination); and the Italian surname "DiMaggio" pronounced IPA|/dəˈmæˌʤioʊ/ in English, or in Italian as IPA|/diˈmaddʒo/. (Suffixation issues for words ending in "gg" and some other special cases are discussed later.)


The "dg" letter combination typically yields an equivalent to the soft-"g" (IPA|/ʤ/) sound, especially when immediately followed by the letter "e". Rare exceptions would be found in, for example, the occasional word/English name such as "Edgar", "endgame", and "goodgolly", which would yield IPA|/dg/ for this letter combination within such words instead. "Dg" pronounced as English soft "g" (that is, IPA|/ʤ/) is found in several words and English names such as "budget", "bridge", "judgment" (also spelled "judgement"), and "Padgett".

pecial cases

ilent marker letters

A few English words (including some Anglo-Celtic proper nouns) contain a silent "u" immediately between a "g" and an "e", "i" or "y", which helps to indicate that the "g" remains hard in these words. Examples include "guess", "guild", "Guinness", and "guy." There are also a few English words which have a silent "ue" letter combination immediately before a hard "g" at the end of a word or root word, such as "tongue", "leagues", and "". The derivatives "tonguing" and "intriguing", however, would exhibit the just-illustrated pattern of a silent "u" immediately between a hard "g" and a non-silent vowel.

For the words "catalog(ue)" (used as a noun or verb) and "analog(ue)" (when used as an adjective), these words commonly end in "g" (that is, without the "ue") for their American English spellings, but these words regularly end instead in "-gue" within British English. Another thing to note here, related to what was mentioned in the prior paragraph, is that derived forms from such British spellings, such as "analogues" and "cataloguing", would also exhibit — as with the aforementioned "tonguing" and "intriguing" — the pattern of a silent "u" immediately between a hard "g" and a non-silent vowel. Related examples can be found in the article on American and British English spelling differences.

The Italian loanword "segue", pronounced "SEG-way" or "SAY-gway", which thus has a pronounced vowel sound in its "gue" letter combination, has a modestly different spelling pattern for its suffixed forms ending in "-s", "-ed", and "-ing" than a word like "intrigue" (with its root-word-final "gue" = hard-"g" sound") has: we get "segues", "segued", and "segueing" as opposed to, for example, "intrigues", "intrigued", and "intriguing" (notably, the latter word "intriguing" having no "e" before the "-ing", but "segueing" having the "e" right before the "-ing").

A silent e is also found immediately between a "g" (or "dg") and an "o" in several English words and proper nouns — such as "pigeon", "bludgeon", and "Geoffrey" — which fosters the rule-based soft-"g" pronunciation of "(d)g" in these words. Also, in a few instances, a silent "h" appears immediately between a "g" and an "e", "i" or "y", such as in "ghetto", "ghillie" (also spelled "gillie"), and "dinghy"; this fosters the rule-based pronunciation of hard "g" in these words. This latter convention is found a number of times in Italian loanwords including proper names/trademarks common in the Anglosphere (such as "ghetto" and "Ghirardelli").

"gh-", "gm-", and "gn-"containing words

The letter combination "gh" in English frequently (but not always, as just alluded to) functions as a silent letter pair. (In some words, it arguably can further be viewed as part of a larger group of silent letters, such as in "furlough", which is pronounced like "FUR-low": the last three letters could arguably all be said to function as silent letters.) The "g" that is part of such a "gh" silent-letter pair cannot be practically said to be either hard or soft. This silent "gh" is typically found at or towards the end of a word (e.g., "sight", "bright", "high", "ought", "brought"), "or" at or towards the end of a "root word" to which one or more suffixes have been added "and/or" which forms part of a "compound word" (e.g., "freights", "weighing", "brightening", "nightmare", "Knightsbridge"). The "igh" three-letter combination consistently contains, where found in English, a "gh" which is silent. Exceptions to this rule are found in a few compound words, frequently regarded as colloquial or slang, such as "pigheaded" and "bighouse".

The letter combinations "ough" and "augh" present a particularly interesting phenomenon in English. The "gh" is usually pronounced as IPA|/f/ "or" not pronounced at all in these letter clusters; in fact, in "hiccough" and "lough", alternative spellings of "hiccup" and "loch", it is even pronounced as IPA|/p/ and dialectically as the voiceless velar fricative IPA|/x/, respectively. The "ough"/"augh" letter combinations are found in a significant number of English words, as well as some Anglo-Celtic proper nouns: for example, "rough", "laugh", "trough", "bough", "Dougherty", and "McCaughey". The vowel sounds within "ough" and "augh" letter clusters can take on many different pronunciations. The aforementioned six words are pronounced as: IPA|/ɹʌf/; IPA|/lɑːf/ [UK & Australian English] or IPA|/læf/ [American English] ; IPA|/trɒf/ [British Received Pronunciation] or IPA|/trɑːf/ or IPA|/trɔːf/ [US pronunciation] ; IPA|/baʊ/; and as "DOE-er-tee" (first syllable rhyming with "go") and "McCoy", respectively. Understandably, the "ough" and "augh" letter combinations present a particular challenge to non-English speakers, and even to native English speakers themselves, in learning English spelling.

Of a somewhat lesser chaotic nature than "ough" and "augh", but which still show a special irregularity, are silent "g's" which appear in "gm" and "gn" combinations found at the end of some English words, or at the end of the root word in some suffixed words. Examples include "diaphragm", "phlegm", "paradigms", "benign", "feign", "designer", "alignment", and "arraignment". Rarely, "gn" can have a pronunciation of IPA|/nj/ (that is, the "n" sound plus the "y" sound in the word "yet") within some English words, such as within the Italian loanword "lasagna" and within the French-influenced word "".

The "gn" combination with a silent "g" also occasionally appears in an initial position in a word. Examples include "gnu", derived from Khoikhoi "t'gnu" and a common name for the wildebeest, as well as "gnostic", "gnaw", and "gnat" — and, as a somewhat light-hearted example, the informal term "gnurk", which can refer to a loved one who is cuddly or who snuggles up to his or her partner with a nuzzling action. ("GNU" — as written in all capital letters as such — is a recursive acronym which forms the name of a computer operating system composed entirely of free software. The name is pronounced IPA|/ˈgnuː/ — most notably, with a non-silent, hard "g". GNU's logo, not surprisingly, is a cartoonish gnu head.)

Omitted-"e" spellings

In American English, "judgment", "abridgment", "acknowledgment", and "" (and derivatives which add letters to the end of these words, such as "judgmentally" and "acknowledgments") are usually written as such, yet the "g" in these words has a soft-"g" (IPA|/ʤ/) sound. However, American English also recognizes the British English spellings "judgement", "abridgement", "acknowledgement", and "lodgement" (and analogous derivatives such as "judgementally") as alternative spellings which carry the same pronunciations as the omitted-"e" spellings.

A few trademarks and proper nouns, such as "Fudgsicle" and "Ridgway", show a similar phenomenon in where there is an omission of a "normally-expected" "e", but the "g" is pronounced as a soft "g". Proper nouns spelled as such can also typically be found with the "e" included as an alternative spelling for different bearers of the name.

Another example of a non-proper-noun word that has a soft-"g"–sounding "dg" followed by a consonant "instead of" a "normally-expected" "e" — and which is a standard spelling in both British and American English — is "", which is pronounced "FLEDGE-ling".

Yet another example — where one could say that an “expected "e"” is absent — is the word “mortgagor”, whose second "g" is soft, in congruence with its root word "mortgage". (An alternative spelling, albeit with the primary stress on the first syllable instead of as in "mortgagor"’s last syllable, is the alternative word “mortgager” [cf. “mortgagor”: "morr"-guh-JORR "–vs–" “mortgager”: MORR-guh-jurr] .) The term refers to the grantor of some credit which is collateralized by real property — that is, the grantor of a mortgage. (The word “mortgagee” ["morr"-guh-JEE] — the person or entity who is a "receiver" of a mortgage loan from a mortgagor — avoids the “irregular soft-"g"” issue in its second "g", which is both soft and which is clearly positioned right before a “soft-"g"–signaling” "e".)

Related to what was just mentioned, the word “veg”, as an abbreviation for “vegetable” or, ostensibly, for “vegetate”, is pronounced with a terminal soft "g" despite its not being followed by a “silent marker” "e". The word is found in trade names such as [http://www.vegall.com "Veg-All"] , a brand of canned mixed vegetables, and in some trade names for pet-food products containing vegetables as a base ingredient [http://www.frommfamily.com/products-fs-d-d-chicken.php (example)] , as well as (as previously alluded to) the slang expression “veg out” (ostensibly a truncation of “vegetate out”, indicating idle, lethargic, mindless behavior). ("Veg" is also encountered frequently in stand-alone form in British English to mean “vegetables”.)

And, as previously mentioned earlier, there are a few words in British English which typically or frequently end in "-gue" (such as "analogue" and "catalogue") which instead commonly end in just "g" in American English (i.e., "analog", "catalog"). Thus with such words, the American forms commonly dispense with both a final "e" as well as another vowel (that is, a "u") right before that "e", as opposed to their counterpart typical British forms.

As a concluding example, American English favors the spelling "aging" as the present-participle form of "age", as well as for its use as a noun (such as with the word's use in gerontology), but British English favors the spelling "ageing" in these senses. The last paragraph of the next section discusses a few related examples of a sometimes-disappearing "e" occurring at the end of standard-English root words which end in a soft-"g" sound (occurring when standard suffixes are added to such root words).

Other suffix additions

Infrequently, there will be a root word ending in a double "g" — most commonly, the word "egg" — with the double "g" pronounced as IPA|/g/. When adding the aforementioned suffixes mentioned in the "General overview" section to such words, no letters are dropped, and the sound of the root word is preserved, such as in "egging" and "eggish". (For suffixed neologisms whose root ends in "gg", however, there may be acceptable alternative spellings which make use of, for example, dropped letters plus an added apostrophe; check with an appropriate style guide or other acceptable source if there are questions in regards to such spellings.) The word "renege" is notable for having an "irregular" hard-"g" sound before the terminal "e" in this word (although the terminal "e" in "renege" is, in typical fashion for "ge"-ending words, silent). This word can be pronounced several ways: "rin-NEGG", "rin-NAYGG", "rin-NIGG", "ree-NEGG", "ree-NAYGG", and "ree-NIGG". The derivatives "reneged", "reneging", and "reneges" are formed by adding "-d", "-ing", and "-s", respectively, and the entire set of sounds of the root word "renege" are preserved within these derivatives. (As with the word "manage", with its "regular" soft "g" before the terminal silent "e" — and which has the derivatives "managed", "managing" and "manages" — we don't add an "e" [within the added suffix] to the past tense and plural/third-person-singular forms of "renege", either.)

And rarely, one will encounter suffixed root words ending in hard "g" which either 1) don't have a single short-vowel letter immediately before the root-word-final hard "g", –or– 2) don't have a single-letter monophthong, pronounced similar to a short vowel, immediately before the root-word-final hard "g". One is apt to find this in neologisms or fanciful spellings such as "mooging" (as a #1-type example), in reference to performing on a Moog musical synthesizer, or (as a #2-type example) "dawging" (as in "Stop dawging me" as an alternative to "Stop dogging me"). These types of suffixed words typically follow the same suffix-addition procedure applied to "egg" that was just mentioned.

Root words ending in "-gue" pronounced as IPA|/g/, as in "tongue" and "intrigue", follow the same suffix-addition rule mentioned for "change", with a few exceptions. First, the addition of an "-s" suffix does not cause an IPA|/əz/ pronunciation at the end of the suffixed word, but just adds a IPA|/z/ sound (e.g., "tongue" IPA|/tʌŋ/ "tongues" IPA|/tʌŋz/). Secondly, it "may" be desirable — especially in neologism-type suffixed words — to add suffixes such as "ish" with a hyphen added before them, as well as drop no letters, to aid in word recognition and spelling (e.g., "tongue" "tonguish" or "tongue-ish" — although "roguish" appears standard and preferred as a derivative of "rogue").

For some root words/names ending in "g" (other than those which end in "ng"), the addition of the "-ly" suffix does "not" result in a doubling of the root-word-final "g", as in, for example, "smugly", "snugly", and [http://tagly.com/tagly/default.asp "Tagly Tags"] . Check with a dictionary or other reliable source if in doubt regarding the spelling of related words/names which end in "-ly". (Again, as previously indicated, words such as "strong" which "do" end in "ng" typically don't double the root-word-final "g" when "-ly" is added [e.g., "strong" "strongly"] .) And relatedly, the words "anger" and "hunger" produce the derivatives "angry/angrier/angriest/angrily/angriness" and "hungry/hungrier/hungriest/hungrily/hungriness" for their adjectival, comparative, superlative, adverbial, and "the state/quality/measure of being angry/hungry" word formations, respectively — notably here, the root-word "e" is dropped in all these derivatives, but the "IPA|/ŋg/" sound pair (represented by the "ng" letter combination in all these words, including the root words) is maintained in these just-mentioned particular derivatives of "anger" and "hunger".

There furthermore can be rare cases of neologisms or fanciful spellings (quite possibly derived from proper names), which are derived from root words ending in a soft "g" (such as "rog" as short for "roger"), "or" which end in "ge" but which is pronounced as IPA|/g/ or IPA|/gi/ or some other manner "other than as" IPA|/ʤ/ (such as "Lange" [IPA|/læŋ/] or "Kresge" [IPA|/ˈkrɛsgi/] ). Typically, when these words are treated as "modifier words" and suffixed, the sound of the root word will be preserved, but the convention followed for suffixation is not standardized: suffixation can yield "roged", "rogged", "rog-ed", "rog'ed", "Lange-ish", "Kresgeism", etc. It is best to check with past sources for clues as to what is best regarding suffixed spellings for these types of cases. However, using a hyphenated suffixed form on short root words such as "rog" (i.e., "rog-ed") may be easiest for the sake of the reader if a word is a protologism. (Depending on stylistic tastes and clues for any past usage, the use of an apostrophe in place of a hyphen may be used for these cases [i.e., "rog'ed", "rog'ing"] , especially when adding the "-ed" or "-ing" suffixes. This convention arguably may be even a bit more acceptable to do when dealing with suffixation of root words like "Lange" and "rog" which are short, and arguably may be even a bit further acceptable to do when dealing with suffixation of root words which, like "rog", are both short and written entirely in lowercase.)

Also, when performing suffixation of neologisms (or fanciful spellings of root words) ending in "g" or a "g"-type sound, it is good to avoid excessive confusion and ambiguity with other words. For more information regarding this, see the section on "Suffixation of neologisms" in the article on Hard and soft "C" for information regarding ambiguity avoidance and selection of the "best logical" spelling form — it essentially analogously applies to suffixed words ending in "g" or a "g"-type sound.

Finally, a few further notable spelling exceptions to the typical suffix-addition rules will be given for words which are found in Standard English. ' is the present-participle form of "singe"; this is ostensibly the case in order to avoid confusion with the word "singing" (the present-participle form of "sing"). The expected pronunciation, however, is retained: "SINGE-ing". The words "orangey" (which can refer to the fruit or the colour), "Orangeism", and "Orangeist" can be cited as further spelling exceptions to the normal rules, although these words are also spelled "orangy", "Orangism", and "Orangist", respectively. ("Orangey", spelled with an "e", was also the name of a red tabby cat who was a talented animal actor in film and television.) Also, ' can arguably be cited as a further-exception example here, although the word is also spelled "cagy"; both spellings are pronounced "CAGE-ee".

Pronunciation changes

A special pronunciation situation arises for "g" in the words "disgrace", "disguise", and "disgust" (and their derivatives such as "disgusting"). Specifically, the "g" which appears as the fourth letter of these words (that is, immediately after the "dis-" prefix) is frequently pronounced as IPA|/k/ (that is, as a devocalized variant of hard "g"), although it may be pronounced as an actual hard "g". For example, "disgusting" can be pronounced as IPA|/ˌdɪˈskʌstɪŋ/ –or– IPA|/ˌdɪsˈgʌstɪŋ/ ["or as" IPA|/ˌdɪzˈgʌstɪŋ/ –or– IPA|/ˌdɪzˈkʌstɪŋ/] . The IPA|/sk/ pronunciation variant (as well as, arguably, the IPA|/zg/ and IPA|/zk/ variants among those who most commonly pronounce the "dis-" prefix as IPA|/dɪs/ as opposed to IPA|/dɪz/) for the "sg" in these words arises due to anticipatory assimilation.

The derivative "legged" has the expected spelling form for it, but in American English, "legged" is commonly pronounced as IPA|/ˈlɛgəd/ or IPA|/ˈleɪgəd/, thus with two syllables. And, in both American and British English, "ragged" is commonly pronounced, and "rugged" is typically pronounced, with an IPA|/əd/ ending, especially when they have the common/typical meanings of "frayed or rough" and "durable or rough", respectfully. ("Ragged", when used as slang, such as in sexual slang or within the slang expression "ragged off" to mean angry, is typically pronounced as one syllable [IPA|/ɹægd/] .) And, in a similar phonetic spirit to "ragged", the word "jagged", if meaning "unevenly cut" or "having a tactically or visually rough quality," is thusly pronounced with two syllables: /ˈʤægɪd/. However, if "jagged" is used as the past tense or past participle of "to ", it is pronounced with one syllable: /ʤægd/.

And finally, as previously indicated, a few suffixed words derived from root words which end in "ng" (the prior examples were, again, "longer/longest" and "stronger/strongest") can have the "ng" within them pronounced either as IPA|/ŋ/ or as IPA|/ŋg/. (Other related derivatives such as "wronger", "wrongest", and "longish" can also show this phenomenon.)

Loanwords with exceptional pronunciation patterns

In some French loanwords in English, such as "genre", "mirage" and "sabotage", their soft-"g" sound is, instead, a "zh" sound (i.e., the "s" sound in "vision") as opposed to a "j" sound (as in "jump") — that is, IPA|/ʒ/ instead of IPA|/ʤ/. Such a pronunciation in these loanwords mimics the French mode of pronunciation for soft "g". For such French-origin words ending in "-ge", when suffixes are added, analogous spelling and pronunciation rules to what were previously mentioned for "-ge"–ending words (where the combination is pronounced IPA|/ʤ/) are followed (e.g., "massage" [IPA|/məˈsɑʒ/] "massages" [IPA|/məˈsɑʒˌəz/] & "massaging" [IPA|/məˈsɑʒˌɪŋ/] ).

For loanwords from non-Romance/non-Germanic sources, such as the Japanese loanword "geisha", the Polish loanword "pierogi", and the largely-Greek-derived "gynecomastia", the "g" is frequently hard before the letters "e", "i", and "y" as well as in other instances. (The three loanwords just given do all feature hard g's.) Greek and largely-Greek-derived loanwords provide an especially interesting case: for example, for words with the Greek suffix "gyn-", the "g" is often (but not always) pronounced hard, but the suffix "-(o)logy" consistently possesses a soft "g". Resulting from these phenomena, the word "gynecology", for example, has an initial hard "g", but has a soft "g" towards the end of the word. But, the Greek loanword "gyros" (a type of Greek sandwich) is usually considered to be properly or relatively properly pronounced as "YEAR-ohss" or "YEAR-ohzz" or as "GEAR-ohss" or "GEAR-ohzz" — that is, with either a hard "g" "or" what could be viewed as a modified form of a soft "g" (that is, having the "y" sound of "yet"). "Gyros" used as an abbreviation for "gyroscopes" begins with, however, a "standard" soft-"g" (IPA|/ʤ/) sound (and is pronounced as rhyming with "high rose").

Alternative spelling in blogging, marketing, entertainment, etc.

Relating to what has been previously said regarding readability, sometimes suffixed words with a root-word-final "g" are spelled in a special manner in the blogosphere (and elsewhere) to aid in their correct pronunciation: i.e., "bling-y" or "blinghy" as an adjectival form of "bling" (which is short for "bling-bling", which is flashy, gaudy, expressive jewelry associated with hip hop fashion and an associated ostentatious lifestyle). In the marketing sphere, the Mirro Aluminum Company had a cooking appliance designed for making eggs, omelets, and other foods that it called (and spelled as) the "Eggory". These spelling conventions (i.e., the added hyphen and "h" in the former examples; the "-ory" instead of "-ery" in the latter example) help clue the reader (especially with the former examples) to "not" pronounce the g's in these words as soft (i.e., that the "ng" is pronounced as IPA|/ŋ/ in the former examples, and that the "gg" is pronounced as IPA|/g/ in the latter example) — as well as also aid in deciphering word meanings.

Occasionally, hard "g" is replaced by "j" in some names of commercial entities, such as with [http://www.enerjy.com/ Enerjy Software] , a Massachusetts-based software-development business division, as well as with several North American radio stations which have a "J" (as well as an "M" somewhere before it) in their official station call letters and which use a moniker with the name "Majic" in it (e.g., the FM stations WMJI "Majic 105.7" in Cleveland, Ohio; WMXJ "Majic 102.7" in Miami, Florida; and CJMJ "Majic 100" in Ottawa, Ontario).

For a few English/Anglosphere first names, they are occasionally found spelled with a "G" which replaces a much-more-common "J", such as in the alternative spellings "Genna" and "Gennifer". However, "Geoffrey" is a fairly-common alternative spelling for the common English/Anglosphere first name "Jeffrey". (The spelling forms with initial G's are pronounced the same as their counterpart spellings with initial J's, including the retention of the "j sound" [IPA|/ʤ/] at the beginning of the names.)

The 1980s comedy series "Not Necessarily the News" on the HBO premium-television network included the recitation of sniglets — defined as words that don't appear in the dictionary, but should — as one of its regular features. (Books of sniglets followed.) One such sniglet is "bargarcs", which is pronounced like "BAR-jarks" (notably, with a soft "g" before the "a"), and is defined as "the streaks on a car's windshield from faulty wipers".

In a very rare case of "j" mimicking and replacing hard "g", American New Wave band Devo hatched the character Booji Boy, which is pronounced like "Boogie Boy". The character, which was created to satirize infantile regression in Western culture, got his name-spelling due to a running out of the letter "g" when the band was using Letraset to produce captions for a film.

Other languages

Latin alphabet–based languages

All modern Romance languages make this distinction, except a few that have undergone spelling reforms such as Ladino or Haitian Creole. The soft "g" occurs before "e", "i" and "y" and is is pronounced IPA|/ʤ/ in Italian and Romanian, IPA|/ʒ/ in French, Portuguese and Catalan, and IPA|/x/ (or an allophone of it) in Spanish. The hard "g" occurs in all other positions and is pronounced IPA|/g/ (or an allophone of it) in all these languages.

The phoneme IPA|/g/ can occur before "e", "i" and "y" by putting a "u" after it (e.g. French "gentil" IPA|/ʒɑ̃ti/, "guerre" IPA|/ɡɛʁ/). In Italian and Romanian, an "h" is used instead of a "u" for the same purpose (e.g. Italian "laghi" IPA|/laɡi/; Romanian "ghid" IPA|/ɡid/). Conversely, the phoneme IPA|/ʒ/ can occur before "a" or "o" by putting an "e" or "i" after it (e.g. French "mangeons" IPA|/mɑ̃ʒɔ̃/; Italian "giorno" IPA|/ʤorno/; Romanian "geam" IPA|/ʤam/).

In Norwegian, in both the "Nynorsk" and "Bokmål" dialects, "g" has a "soft" pronunciation of "y" as in "yet" (that is, IPA|/j/) before "i" and "y", and a "hard" pronunciation of IPA|/g/ elsewhere. In Swedish, "g" is "hard" before before a consonant or a hard vowel ("a", "o", "u", "å"), where it has the IPA|/g/ sound. Before a soft vowel ("e", "i", "y", "ä", "ö"), "g" in Swedish is "soft", carrying the "y" sound in "yet" (again, as IPA|/j/). In Icelandic, a "soft" type of "g", also producing the English consonantal "y" sound (again, IPA|/j/), occurs between a vowel and "i" "or" between a vowel and "j"; a "modified, 'relatively-soft-type' "g" sound phonetically represented as IPA|/c/ (see voiceless palatal plosive), occurs initially in a word before "e", "i", "í", "y", "ý", "æ", and "j". Otherwise, "hard" or "relatively hard-sounding" forms for "g" are realized in Icelandic words: as IPA|/k/ when found initially, "or" before "n" or "l", "or" after a consonant; as IPA|/x/ between a vowel and "s" "or" between a vowel and "t"; and as IPA|/ɣ/ (the voiced counterpart to IPA|/x/) after vowels. Faroese also has a soft "g", which occurs before the vowels "e", "i" "y" and "ey" (but not the diphthong "ei") and the consonant "j", and is pronounced as in Italian: IPA|/ʤ/, in addition final g (but not final gg) is silent in Faroese.

In Danish, "g" is typically pronounced as IPA|/g/, although it is usually silent when it immediately follows a vowel "or" is at the end of a word but part of an "-ig" letter combination. However, in some loanwords in Danish, it is pronounced as IPA|/ʒ/. In Dutch, "g" is typically pronounced as IPA|/x/ when found at the beginning of a word, and pronounced as IPA|/ʁ/ in other positions within a word. In some Dutch dialects, however, "g" is pronounced as IPA|/ɣ/. But, in some loanwords such as "goal" and "bagage" ("baggage"), the initial "g" in the former loanword "goal" is typically pronounced as IPA|/g/, and the second "g" of "bagage" is commonly pronounced IPA|/zʲ/ (but pronounced IPA|/sʲ/ instead of IPA|/zʲ/ in some dialects). However, some Dutch speakers do use the French soft-"g" sound of IPA|/ʒ/ in loanwords such as "bagage" (for the second "g" in this particular example; the first "g" of "bagage" is commonly pronounced as IPA|/x/, however).

In German, "g" typically has "hard" or "relatively hard-sounding" forms: it is pronounced IPA|/ç/ (or as IPA|/k/ in Southern German) in the ending "-ig"; pronounced as IPA|/k/ at the end of a syllable; and otherwise, pronounced as IPA|/g/ or IPA|/g̊/. As with Danish (and sometimes Dutch), "g" can also be pronounced as IPA|/ʒ/ in some loanwords in German. However, in such loanwords, it is pronounced instead by many German speakers as IPA|/ʃ/ (for example, the French loanwords "garage" and "orange" can be pronounced as IPA|/garɑʒə/ and IPA|/oˑˈʀãʒə/, or as IPA|/garɑʃə/ and IPA|/oˑˈʀãʃ/, respectively). Furthermore and relatedly, in a few English loanwords such as "Manager" (IPA|/ˈmɛnɪdʒɐ/) and "Teenager" (IPA|/ˈtiːnˌeɪdʒɚ/), "g" has the English soft-"g" IPA|/ʤ/ sound. The IPA|/ʤ/ sound is occasionally indicated in German by use of the "dsch" letter combination, such as in the word "Dschungel" IPA|/ˈdʒʊŋl̩/, the German word for "jungle" (and which is pronounced fairly similarly to its English cognate).

In Luganda, "g" has a soft form IPA|/ʤ/ which occurs before "i" and "y", and a hard form IPA|/ɡ/ that occurs before other letters (although in fact only "a", "e", "o", "u" and "w" are possible). The letter "y" in Luganda is a consonant representing the semivowel IPA|/j/, and is always followed by a vowel. However, in the combination "gy", the "y" is silent; it softens the "g" and lengthens the following vowel, but is not itself pronounced. The Luganda "y" is thus analogous to the Romance "e" or "i" in words like French "mangeons" IPA|/mɑ̃ʒɔ̃/ or Italian "giorno" IPA|/ʤ'orno/, where a silent letter forces the "g" to take on its soft sound. Unlike these languages, however, Luganda has no orthographic mechanism for forcing a "g" to be hard, analogous to the silent "u" or "h" used in French or Italian respectively.

Non–Latin alphabet–based languages

In Modern Greek, which uses the Greek alphabet, the Greek letter "gamma" (uppercase: “Γ”; lowercase: “γ”) — which is ancestral to the Roman letters ‘’g’’ and ‘’c’’ — has “soft-type” and “hard-type” variants. Gamma is “soft” — pronounced as the voiced palatal fricative IPA|/ʝ/ — before “αι” and “ε” (both typically pronounced IPA|/ɛ/), and before “ει”, “η”, “ι”, “οι”, and “υι” (all typically pronounced IPA|/i/). In other instances, gamma is “hard” and has the sound of IPA|/ɣ/ (the voiced counterpart to the “ch” in the Scottish pronunciation of “loch”).

In Russian, which uses the Cyrillic alphabet, the letter “г” ("Ge"; pronounced IPA|/ge/; has similar uppercase and lowercase forms except for italicized forms, and is also derived from Greek "gamma") has hard ("твёрдый" IPA|/ˈtvʲo.rdɨj/) and soft ("мягкий" IPA|/ˈmʲæ.xʲkʲɪj/), or plain and palatalized, variants. They are pronounced IPA|/g/ and IPA|/gʲ/, respectively. The soft pronunciation of г occurs always before the vowels “я” (IPA|/ ʲa/ "or" IPA|/ja/); “ё” (IPA|/ ʲo/ "or" IPA|/jo/); “и” (IPA|/ ʲi/); and “ю” (IPA|/ ʲu/ "or" IPA|/ju/), which are then pronounced as standard uniotated “а” IPA|/a/, “о” IPA|/o/, “и” IPA|/i/, and “у” IPA|/u/. Also, the soft pronunciation occurs almost always before the vowel “е” (IPA|/ ʲe/ "or" IPA|/je/), which is then pronounced as “э” (IPA|/e/ "or" IPA|/ɛ/). Another way the soft pronunciation occurs is if г is followed by the soft sign “ь”.

(Russian г becomes a devoiced consonant at the end of words — leniting to a pronunciation of IPA|/x/ — unless the next word begins with a voiced obstruent. Orthographic г also represents IPA|/x/ when it precedes other velar sounds. It can also be noted that г represents the sound IPA|/v/ in the genitive case [and also in the accusative for animate entities] of masculine singular adjectives and pronouns [i.e., его IPA|/jɪˈvo/ (“his/him”); белого IPA|/ˈbʲɛ.lə.və/ (“white” gen. sg.); синего IPA|/ˈsʲi.nʲɪ.və/ (“blue” gen. sg.)] . In southwestern Russia, orthographic г becomes a fricative IPA|/ɣ/, and sometimes becomes the voiced glottal fricative IPA|/ɦ/ in regions bordering Belarus and Ukraine. Many other Russian [Cyrillic] consonantal letters also have soft and hard variants, although the phonological behavior of г is modestly more complex than that of several of these other consonants; see Russian phonology for more on this topic.)

In Hebrew, which uses the Hebrew alphabet, the letter "gimel" ("ג") typically has the IPA|/g/ sound within Hebrew words, although in some Sephardic dialects, it is pronounced IPA|/ɡ/ or IPA|/ʒ/ when written with a dagesh (i.e., a dot placed inside the letter: "גּ"), and pronounced IPA|/ɣ/ when without a dagesh. Also, in Modern Hebrew, an apostrophe-like symbol called a Geresh can be added immediately to the left of a gimel (i.e., "ג׳") to indicate that the gimel is to be pronounced like the English "j"/English soft-"g" sound (that is, as IPA|/ʤ/).


The soft "g" first appeared in Late Latin, by palatalization. Specifically, this alternation has its origins in a historical palatalization which took place in Late Latin, and led to a change in the pronunciation of the velar plosive IPA| [g] before the front vowels IPA| [e] and IPA| [i] . Later, other languages not descended from Latin, such as English, inherited this feature as an orthographic convention, while others developed a similar sound change, e.g. the North Germanic languages.

ee also

*English orthography
*Hard and soft C


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  • Hard and fast — Hard Hard (h[aum]rd), a. [Compar. {Harder} ( [ e]r); superl. {Hardest}.] [OE. hard, heard, AS. heard; akin to OS. & D. hard, G. hart, OHG. herti, harti, Icel. har[eth]r, Dan. haard, Sw. h[*a]rd, Goth. hardus, Gr. kraty s strong, ka rtos, kra tos …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • hard-fact/soft-fact debate —    The debate among Christian philosophers over hard facts and soft facts is bound up with the problem of foreknowledge and freedom. There is not even agreement among Christian philosophers as to the definition of the terms hard fact and soft… …   Christian Philosophy

  • Soft light — Hard light redirects here. For details of the concept of hard and soft light in Red Dwarf, see Arnold Rimmer. Natural soft lighting from a sunrise in Temanggung Regency, Central Java, Indonesia Soft light refers to light that tends to wrap around …   Wikipedia

  • Hard science — is a term used to describe natural sciences and physical sciences as distinct from social science.Fact|date=October 2007 The hard sciences are believed to rely on experimental, empirical, quantifiable data or the scientific method and focus on… …   Wikipedia

  • Soft science fiction — Soft science fiction, or soft SF, like its opposite hard science fiction, is a descriptive term that points to the role and nature of the science content in a science fiction story. The term first appeared in the late 1970s and early 1980s and… …   Wikipedia

  • Soft science — is a colloquial term, often used for academic research or scholarship which is purportedly scientific however it is not based on reproducible experimental data, and/or a mathematical explanation of that data. The term is usually used as a… …   Wikipedia

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