- Proto-Sino-Tibetan: *r-njəɣ (Coblin, 1986)
- Proto-Tibeto-Burman: *r/g-na (Matisoff, STEDT; LaPolla, 1987; French, 1983); *g-na (Benedict, 1972)
Note that Proto-Sino-Tibetan has the same root *na for "ear" and "nose", distinguishing their meanings only with prefixes ("nose": *s-na). A parallelism exists in Chinese 聞 (wén < OC *mun, "to smell; to hear").
For Chinese 耳, some modern Min Bei dialects attest the -Ø ~ -ŋ variation in the final (e.g. Jianyang /noiŋ/) as recorded in the historical rhyme book Jiyun. The Min Nan colloquial reading (if not a substrate borrowing) not only suggests an older nasal rhyme, it also appears to point to a proto-initial of /*n̥ < C.n̥/.
- Old Chinese: 耳 /*C.nəʔ/ (B-S), /*njɯʔ/ (ZS) ("ear"); 刵 ("cutting off ear as a punishment"), 珥 ("ear ornament") /*njɯs/ (ZS)
- Written Tibetan: རྣ་བ (rna ba, “ear”)
- /*naᴮ/ (Luangthongkum, 2013)
- Sgaw: နၢ် (nâ, “ear”)