The Consonant Sound [y], Eng
1. You can hear the sound [m] at the end of rum. You can hear the sound [n] at the end of run. At the end of rung you can hear the sound [y]. The sound [y] is called eng.
2. Most of the time [y] is spelled <ng>, as in rung. But sometimes [y] is spelled <n>.
3 Say the word think. There is a [k] sound right after the [y]: [thiyk]. Put an X beside each word that has a [k] right after the [y]. Counting think, there are three:
4. Say the word tangle. There is a [g] sound right after the [y]. Put an X beside each word that has a [g] right after the [y]. There are four:
5. In think the <k> spells [k], and [y] is spelled <n>. And in tangle the <g> spells [g], and [y] is spelled y. But in most words [y] is spelled <ng>.
6. When there is a [k] or a [g] sound right after the sound [y],[y] is spelled <n> but everywhere else it is spelled <ng>
Word Squares. All but two of these words contain the sound [y], spelled either <ng> or <n>:
Four-letter word: dark
Five-letter words: thank, going, uncle, being
Six-letter words: finger, single, uncles, thinker
Seven-letter words: sunning, monkeys, further, dogging, landing
Eight-letter words: language, hungriest
The two words that do not contain [y] are dark and further
Teaching Notes. The two different spellings of [y] reflect a bit of language history: In Old English [y] was not a separate sound; it was a variation of [n], the sound that [n] assumed before [k] or [g]. In Old English the spelling <ng> was always pronounced as two sounds: [yg], the way it is in, say, single or finger. Over the centuries, because of all the words containing [y] that were adopted from languages like French and Latin, [y] evolved into a separate sound. Its spelling still reflects that Old English pattern. For more on [y], see AES, pp. 435-38.