Velar lateral approximant

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Velar lateral approximant
IPA number 158
Entity (decimal) ʟ
Unicode (hex) U+029F
Kirshenbaum L
Braille ⠔ (braille pattern dots-35) ⠇ (braille pattern dots-123)

The velar lateral approximant is a type of consonantal sound, used in a very small number[1] of spoken languages in the world. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ʟ, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is L\.

The velar laterals of the world often involve a prestopped realization [ɡ͡ʟ].[2]


Features of the velar lateral approximant:

  • Its manner of articulation is approximant, which means it is produced by narrowing the vocal tract at the place of articulation, but not enough to produce a turbulent airstream.
  • Its place of articulation is velar, which means it is articulated with the back of the tongue at the soft palate.
  • Its phonation is voiced, which means the vocal cords vibrate during the articulation. However, in some languages (like Swiss German) it can just mean that this consonant is pronounced shorter and weaker than its voiceless counterpart, while its voicedness or lack thereof is not relevant. In such cases it's more accurate to call such sounds lenis or lax.
  • It is an oral consonant, which means air is allowed to escape through the mouth only.
  • It is a lateral consonant, which means it is produced by directing the airstream over the sides of the tongue, rather than down the middle.
  • The airstream mechanism is pulmonic, which means it is articulated by pushing air solely with the lungs and diaphragm, as in most sounds.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
English[3] some dialects milk [mɪʟk] 'milk' May occur before velar and labial consonants. See English phonology
Melpa[4] [paʟa] 'fence'
Mid-Wahgi[3] aglagle [aʟaʟe] 'dizzy'
Hiw[5] evov [ɡ͡ʟəβɡ͡ʟɔβ] 'evening' The velar lateral of Hiw is prestopped [ɡ͡ʟ]

See also[edit]