Dark l

The velarized alveolar lateral approximant, also known as dark l, is a type of consonantal sound used in some spoken languages. The regular symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨⟩, though the dedicated letter ⟨ɫ⟩ is perhaps more common.

Depending on language and dialect, this sound may instead be pharyngealized. Velarization and pharyngealization are generally associated with more dental articulations of coronal consonants so that dark l tends to be dental or denti-alveolar while clear l tends to be retracted to an alveolar position.[1]


Features of the velarized alveolar lateral approximant:


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Albanian halla [ˈhäɫä] 'aunt'
Arabic Standard[2] الله ʼAllah [ʔɑɫˈɫɑːh] 'God' Also transcribed as ⟨⟩. Many accents and dialects lack the sound and instead pronounce ]. See Arabic phonology
Bashkir ҡала ǩala [ˈqɑˈɫɑ] 'city'
Bulgarian ъгъл ăgăl [ˈɤ̞̈ɡɐɫ] 'corner'
Catalan[3] Eastern dialects cel·la [ˈsɛɫːə] 'cell' Can be always dark in many dialects. See Catalan phonology
Western dialects alt [aɫ(t)] 'tall'
Dutch[4][5] bal [bɑɫ] 'ball' Postvocalic allophone of /l/. Can be always dark in some Netherlandic dialects. See Dutch phonology
English[6] Australian peel [pʰiːɫ] 'peel' Can be always dark in North America, Australia and New Zealand. See English phonology
New Zealand
South African
Scottish loch [ɫɔx] 'loch' Can be always dark, except in some borrowings from Scottish Gaelic
Greek Northern dialects[7] μπάλα lla [ˈbaɫa] 'ball' Allophone of /l/ before /a o u/. See Modern Greek phonology
Icelandic sigldi [sɪɫtɪ] 'sailed' Rare. See Icelandic phonology
Irish lá [ɫɑː] 'day' See Irish phonology
Norwegian Northern spelle [spæɫːe] 'to play' See Norwegian phonology
Ossetian Алани Alani ) 'Alania'
Scots fluir [fɫyːr] 'floor'
Serbo-Croatian[8][9] лак / lak [ɫâ̠k] 'easy' May be syllabic; it contrasts with //. See Serbo-Croatian phonology
St’át’imcets qao [qáɫ] 'bad'
Taos [kīǣˈwǣɫmã̄] 'be strong' See Taos phonology
Turkish kızıl [kɯzɯɫ] 'red' See Turkish phonology
Welsh Northern dialects lol [ɫɔɫ] 'nonsense'
West Frisian lân [ɫɔːn] 'land'
Dental or denti-alveolar
Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Belarusian[10] Беларусь [bʲɛɫ̪äˈrus̪ʲ] 'Belarus' Contrasts with palatalized form. See Belarusian phonology
Catalan mil dòlars [miɫ̪ ˈd̪ɔɫərs̺] 'thousand dollars' Allophone of /l/ before /t d/ in many dialects. See Catalan phonology
Lithuanian[11] labas [ˈɫ̪äːbɐs] 'hi' Contrasts with [l̪ʲ].
Macedonian[12] лук
[ɫ̪uk] 'onion' Only before back vowels (/a o u/) and syllable-finally. See Macedonian phonology
Norwegian Southeastern[11] tale [ˈt̪ʰɑ̈ːɫ̪ə] 'speech', 'to speak' Allophone of /l/ after /ɑ ɑː ɔ oː/. See Norwegian phonology
Polish Eastern dialects[13] łapa [ˈɫ̪äpä] 'paw' Corresponds to /w/ in standard Polish. See Polish phonology
Portuguese European[14] mil [miɫ̪] 'one thousand' Coda is now vocalized to ~ ] in most of Brazil (as in rural parts of Alto Minho and Madeira).[15] Can be always dark in most dialects, mainly before back/rounded and close/unrounded vowels. See Portuguese phonology
Most dialects[16] Lituânia ) 'Lithuania'
Older General Brazilian[17][18][19] álcool [ˈäɫ̪ko̞ɫ̪] 'alcohol', 'ethanol'
Russian[20] малый [ˈmɑ̟ɫ̪ɨ̞j] 'small' See Russian phonology
Scottish Gaelic[21] Mallaig [ˈmäʊɫ̪ækʲ] 'Mallaig' See Scottish Gaelic phonology
Serbo-Croatian столца / stolca [s̪t̪ǒ̞ːɫ̪t̪͡s̪a̠] 'chair' (gen. sg.) Allophone of /l/ before /t d s z t͡s/; may be syllabic. See Serbo-Croatian phonology

See also



  • [Grammar book]. Summary.
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