Consonants /s/ versus /ŋ/, 51 pairs     [busbung.html]

The /s/ sound is spelled with <s>, <ss> or <ce>. The /ŋ/ sound is spelled with <ng>. Several pairs arise from assimilation of /n/ to /ŋ/ before /k/, such as risk/rink.

This is a contrast between a voiceless sibilant fricative and a voiced velar nasal continuant. It can only occur in final position or in a cluster and is fairly rare. It causes no problems.

The only taboo word pair is piss/ping.

Several pairs arise from a derived feminine noun in -ess and a participle, such as murderess/murdering. Other interesting pairs include:

office offing
witless whittling

The mean density value is 0.3%. The list makes 41 semantic distinctions, a loading of 81%.

adventuress adventuring
axis axing 
basis basing 
bass bang 
brisk brink 
bus bung 
  busing bunging 
busker bunker 
  buskers bunkers 
coppice copping
cornice corning
countess counting
dusk dunk 
gas gang 
  gassing ganging 
  gassed ganged
heiress airing 
hostess hosting
husk hunk 
  husks hunks 
kiss king 
lettuce letting 
Lois lowing
loss long 
misc mink 
morass meringue 
murderess murdering
musk monk 
musky monkey 
notice noting
office offing
palace palling
pinnace pinning
piss ping 
  pissing pinging 
redness reddening 
risk rink 
  risks rinks 
service serving
surface surfing
suss sung 
Swiss swing
testis testing 
treatise treating 
Tunis tuning
whisk wink
  whisked winked
  whisking winking
  whisks winks
whiteness whitening
witless whittling 

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, November 2010
updated Chiang Mai, 2024