Voiceless velar lateral fricative

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Voiceless velar lateral fricative
ʟ̝̊
Sound

The voiceless velar lateral fricative is a very rare speech sound. As one element of an affricate, it is found for example in Zulu and Xhosa (see velar lateral ejective affricate). However, a simple fricative has only been reported from a few languages in the Caucasus and New Guinea.

Archi, a Northeast Caucasian language of Dagestan, has four voiceless velar lateral fricatives: plain [ʟ̝̊], labialized [ʟ̝̊ʷ], fortis [ʟ̝̊ː], and labialized fortis [ʟ̝̊ːʷ]. Although clearly fricatives, these are further forward than velars in most languages, and might better be called prevelar. Archi also has a voiced fricative, as well as a voiceless and several ejective lateral velar affricates, but no alveolar lateral fricatives or affricates.[1]

In New Guinea, some of the Chimbu languages such as Melpa, Middle Wahgi, and Nii, have a voiceless velar lateral fricative, which they write with a double-bar el (Ⱡ, ⱡ). This sound also appears in syllable coda position as an allophone of the voiced velar lateral fricative in Kuman.[2]

The IPA has no separate symbol for these sounds, but it can be transcribed as a devoiced raised velar lateral approximant, ʟ̝̊, in which the devoicing ring diacritic is placed above the letter to avoid clashing with the raising diacritic. Furthermore, the "belt" of the voiceless alveolar lateral fricative on the symbol of the corresponding lateral approximant forms the basis for occasional ad hoc symbols for the other voiceless lateral fricatives:

Lateral fricatives.png

SIL International has added these symbols to the Private Use Areas of their Gentium, Charis and Doulos fonts, at U+F268 ().

Features[edit]

Features of the voiceless velar lateral fricative:

  • Its manner of articulation is fricative, which means it is produced by constricting air flow through a narrow channel at the place of articulation, causing turbulence.
  • Its place of articulation is velar, which means it is articulated with the back of the tongue at the soft palate.
  • Its phonation is voiceless, which means it is produced without vibrations of the vocal cords. In some languages the vocal cords are actively separated, so it is always voiceless; in others the cords are lax, so that it may take on the voicing of adjacent sounds.
  • 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.

Occurrence[edit]

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Archi лъат [ʟ̝̊at] 'sea'

References[edit]

Note: the first source uses the symbol for the voiceless alveolar lateral fricative, [ɬ], but also states that the sound is prevelar.

  1. ^ the Archi language tutorial
  2. ^ Steed, W., & Hardie, P. (2004). Acoustic Properties of the Kuman Voiceless Velar Lateral Fricative. Proceedings of the 10th Australian International Conference on Speech Science & Technology, Sydney. [1]