During my previous studies I was introduced to ancient Greek and, among other things, I learned that we believe double gamma γγ was pronounced like a prenasalised gamma, something like "ng", which certainly would explain why γγ was tranliterated and reached modern day languages as ng.

I've recently started to learn Modern Greek and my handbook, as well as Wikipedia's article on Modern Greek phonology, state that γγ is still prenasalised. However, I was surprised to see that my Greek girlfriend Evangelia pronounces her name something like "Evagelía" rather than "Evangelía" and, moreover, in a recent trip to Greece, specifically to Athens, Patras and Thira, I was surprised to see that everyone was dropping this nasalisation---or at least it was unperceivable to me---. I even asked her explicitly whether she has the impression of nasalising γγ and she told me she does not, and she added she doesn't have the impression other Greek people do in Peloponnese or Athens. Actually, I even asked random local people to pronounce "Αγγλία" and it always turned out as "Aglía".

How do we explain this apparent contradiction between academic phonology and---still apparent---spoken Modern Greek. Was this lack of nasalitation due to a dialectal variant of Modern Greek, proper to the regions I've been in?

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    As a native speaker, I could point out the nasalization has been taking a dive in the last half century. The received, and regional, high-prestige, Balkan nasalization has been assaulted and is being replaced by the "urban" non-nasalized version, driven by Asia Minor refugees from the 1922-23 population exchange (not present in Turkish). As often in the middle of such transitions, the speakers don't notice the two variants, but sense that old films or songs "feel older"! Try them on the more formal/medical Αγκύλωση, or Εγκέλαδος. Aug 5 at 20:33
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    @CosmasZachos, "Thank you"-comments are to be avoided but yours is illustrative enough as to make me wanna thank you explicitly. I'll check Greek pop music from the '50s as well as ask Greek people to pronounce both words you've suggested. EDIT: I found this example. youtu.be/asJ8TqR-vKw?t=34
    – Hal
    Aug 9 at 10:29
  • youtube.com/watch?v=XlLnxQyysQk at 0:21 introduces formally an older Ευαγγελία... youtube.com/watch?v=tz4bv3rvAws at 1:52 illustrates the broader point of @brass tacks with νεράΝτζι. Only an urban tough would elide the prenasalization. Aug 9 at 13:48

The variability of nasalization in such sequences is "well known" (in Greek linguistic circles). This article investigates the question instrumentally, in Thessalonikan and Cretan dialects. The conclusion to be drawn from this study is "yes, no, and all points in between", w.r.t. the question of whether there is prenasalization, that is, the realization is gradient. There are numerous location, age, gender, register, speech rate and so on factors that dictate the realization.


This isn't specific to γγ, it is a general phenomenon of modern Greek pronunciation of voiced plosives, which are also spelled μπ ντ γκ. I don't have first-hand experience, but according to linguistic sources I've read, Greek has two series of plosives: voiceless and voiced. A plosive from the voiced series has no prenasalization when utterance-initial or following another consonant*, but may have prenasalization when following a vowel. However, the presence of prenasalization is not contrastive, and it may be left out even when there is a preceding vowel. I've seen the presence of prenasalization described as a conservative feature.

Here are papers about it:

*Cypriot apparently may be an exception to this

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