Lamedh may have come from a pictogram of an ox goad or cattle prod. Some have suggested a shepherd's staff.
Use in English
In English orthography, 'l' usually represents the phoneme //, which can have several sound values, depending on whether it occurs before or after a vowel. The alveolar lateral approximant (the sound represented in IPA by lowercase [l]) occurs before a vowel, as in 'lip' or 'please', while the velarized alveolar lateral approximant (IPA [ɫ]) occurs in 'bell' and 'milk'. This velarization does not occur in many European languages that use L; it is also a factor making the pronunciation of L difficult for users of languages that lack L or have different values for it, such as Japanese or some southern dialects of Chinese.
In English orthography, L is often silent in such words as 'walk' or 'could' (its presence can modify the preceding vowel letter's sound; otherwise 'walk' might be pronounced to rhyme with 'sock'). L is usually silent in such words as 'palm' and 'psalm', however there is some regional variation.
Use in other orthographies
L usually represents the sound /l/ or some other lateral consonant.
Common digraphs include LL, which has a value identical to L in English, but has the separate value voiceless alveolar lateral fricative (IPA /ɬ/) in Welsh, where it can appear in an initial position.
The capital letter 'L' is used as the currency sign for the Albanian lek and the Honduran lempira. It was often used, especially in handwriting, as the currency sign for the Italian lira. It is also infrequently used as a substitute for the pound sign (£), which is based on it.
Forms and variants
In some fonts, the lowercase letter L, 'l' may be difficult to distinguish from the digit one, '1' or an uppercase letter I, 'I'. In recent times, many new fonts have curved the lowercase form to the right, and it is increasingly common, especially on European road signs and advertisements. A more stylized version based on the handwritten letterlike 'ℓ' is sometimes used in mathematics and elsewhere. Its LaTeX command is \ell, its codepoint is U+2113, and its numeric character reference is "ℓ".
Related letters and other similar characters
- Ł ł : Latin letter L with stroke
- LL Ll ll : Latin digraph Ll
- ℒ ℓ : Script letter L
- £ : pound sign
- ₤ : lira sign
- Λ λ : Greek letter Lambda
- Л л : Cyrillic letter El
- ל : Hebrew letter Lamedh
|Unicode name||LATIN CAPITAL LETTER L||LATIN SMALL LETTER L|
|Numeric character reference||L||L||l||l|
- 1 Also for encodings based on ASCII, including the DOS, Windows, ISO-8859 and Macintosh families of encodings.
- Sometimes spelled ell
- "L" Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition (1989) Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged. (1993); "el", "ells", op. cit.
- Media related to L at Wikimedia Commons
- The dictionary definition of L at Wiktionary
- The dictionary definition of l at Wiktionary
- The dictionary definition of ℓ at Wiktionary