Non-English pronunciation: Ng

OK, so I have an appointment with a medical type called Dr. Ng. I have never met Dr. Ng and I am dreading turning up to his (or her) office and having to tell the receptionist I have an appointment with Dr. Unpronouncable.

I’ve asked around and have received as many different answers on how to pronounce the name as the people I have asked: Ing, Enjee, Noy etc. Unfortunately I don’t know any Vietnamese, who presumably would know.

So how is the name Ng pronounced?

I believe it’s pronounced “ing,” like the last syllable in talking. That’s the way it’s been pronounced every time I’ve seen someone with that name on t.v.

I used to know a guy named Leon Ng who insisted it was pronounced “Goldstien.”

Yes, but without the i sound. When you say ing, you initially have your tongue minding its own business at the bottom of your mouth, then it lifts up against your palet for the ng sound. To pronounce Ng, just start with your tongue already up against your palet.

I suppose if you just pronounce it “Doctoring” you wouldn’t be far off.

If you’re a monolingual American, your saying “Ing” will probably make him grateful just for your being close and making the attempt.

Back in college, I asked an asian classmate of mine this question, and he said it was pronounced like “Eng.”

A local newscaster with the last name Ng, pronounces it on the air as, “ing,” but a co-worker of mine pronounces her last name of Ng as, “nung” (rhymes with tongue).

D’oh! :smack: Why didn’t I think of this sooner?

If he/she is a doctor, why not call his or her office and ask the receptionist or a coworker how he/she pronounces it?


I have an ex-girlfriend with this name. She lives in Hong Kong. She complains that Westerners pronounce it “ink”.

In actual fact, it’s pronounced exactly as it’s written: ng. There are those who say English-speakers are incapable of pronouncing this sound, but that’s a load of hooey. We can and do say it correctly all the time. It’s just that we only ever say it at the end of a word, and never at the beginning or by itself. If you can say walking, then you can say ng. It’ll just take a little bit of practice. Say walking, and hold the final sound: walkinnnnnnngggggggg. Then stop virbating your vocal cords, but keep your mouth in the exact same position. Then start vocalising again for half a second or so, and you’ll come out with a pretty good Chinese ng.

If you still can’t do it (but I think you will), and you want to give up, then just say ing. I’m sure the good doctor will be used to people saying that.

That’s actually my family name… I ask people to pronounce it N-g (just the two letters), it is less trouble that way. But maybe that is because I’m just half-Chinese.

In Cantonese it sounds like “Mmm”

In Mandarin, it sounds like “Wu”

In Japanese it is “Go”

The Chinese character is similar to the number five…

I’ve worked with an Ng or two, and they also just told us to pronounce it N-G, like the letters. This is generally the Latin letter spelling of the Cantonese name, isn’t it?

It’s probably best just to ask the guy (or lady). He or she is probably used to having to explain it…

How’s about you just call him “Doctor?”

Thanks for all the replies but I think I’m just as confused as I was before I asked here. It seems like the different answers I received when I asked my friends and cow irkers were all correct but only for some people. Enjee, Ing, Eng etc are all variants and possibly someone somewhere just gave up and suggested Noy as well. I’m sensing this is source of minor frustration for people with this name.

I also assumed it was a Vietnamese name but it appears I’m wrong and the name is also Chinese as well, and probably several other nationalities to boot.

I thing I’ll just go with Ing and then ask if I got it right.

Well I’m going to have to see the receptionsit when I walk in the door anyway so I can ask then. I just would have preferred to be all cool and simply say that I have an appointemnet with Dr. X rather than explaining that I can’t pronounce the name. I’m sure the receptionist gets it a dozen times a day, but it’s an ego thing with me.

Well I can do that to his/her face but I still have to negotiate the waiting room. It’s a clinic so I assume it has several doctors on staff. At some point I’m going to have to explain who I’m there to see.

I also had a classmate whose surname was Ng. She said that it should pronounced the same way it’s spelt, but “ing” and “ning” were both acceptable. Our nickname for her was “Missing”.

I’d recommend that you practice saying “ing”, but make the “i” sound shorter and quieter than usual (until it’s not there at all).

That leaves us with: How do you pronounce Mbossa? :smack: :smiley:

You could walk in all cool and simply say “Yes, I have an appointment with Dr. Ing.” He/she will undoubtedly say, “Yes, sir.” Then, with a look of detached interest, you could inquire if that was the correct pronunciation. This way you’ll look cool and will be making an effort at the same time, while still having one last chance to get it right before meeting him/her in person. It’s a win/win proposition.

I had a student once with this last name. I had known others with it, and they had pronounced it “Eng.” So I pronounced it “eng.” She got totally offended and snapped “It’s Ing!” :rolleyes: I hope she got over her persnicketiness over the issue, because it’s gonna be a long unhappy life for her if she gets mad every time some round-eye mispronounces her vowel-less surname.

Fortunately, every other person I’ve met with a difficult name like Nguyen or Hsieh or something has been very patient about explaining how they would like it pronounced.

I’d say your best bet is to pronounce it “Ing” or “Eng.” Just put the emphasis on the “ng” part. At least it’s a commonly accepted way to say it in English, so even if the doc prefers another pronunciation, you won’t sound stupid.

That particular family name actually exists in Vietnamese, but the people there spell and pronounce it Ngo (which is still a bitch to get right sometimes).

I was waiting for someone to ask that :D. You can pronounce it however you want - I won’t mind (especially since I won’t be able to hear you :p). But if you really want an answer, try “embosser” without the “e”.

For the record, my real name is a lot easier to pronounce (apart from the “McK” at the start of my surname - but most people have learnt to cope with that one!)