The retroflex lateral approximant is a type of consonantal sound used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is 〈ɭ〉, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is l`.
Features of the retroflex 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 retroflex, which prototypically means it is articulated subapical (with the tip of the tongue curled up), but more generally, it means that it is postalveolar without being palatalized. That is, besides the prototypical sub-apical articulation, the tongue contact can be apical (pointed) or laminal (flat).
- Its phonation is voiced, which means the vocal cords vibrate during the articulation.
- 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.
In the following transcriptions, diacritics may be used to distinguish between apical [ɭ̺] and laminal [ɭ̻].
- Jiang, Haowen (April 2010), Malayalam: a Grammatical Sketch and a Text, Department of Linguistics, Rice University
- Keane, Elinor (2004), "Tamil", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 34 (1): 111–116, doi:10.1017/S0025100304001549