As a sonorant, lateral approximants are nearly always voiced. Voiceless lateral approximants, /l̥/, are common in Sino-Tibetan languages, but uncommon elsewhere. In such cases, voicing typically starts about halfway through the hold of the consonant. No language contrasts such a sound with a voiceless alveolar lateral fricative[ɬ].
In a number of languages, including most varieties of English, the phoneme /l/ becomes velarized in certain contexts, a sound often called "dark l". Some languages, like many North American dialects of English may not have a "clear" /l/ at all.
Languages may have clear apical or laminal alveolars (such as Bulgarian, which has both), laminal denti-alveolars (such as French), or true dentals, which are uncommon. However, a true dental generally occurs allophonically before /θ/ in languages which have it, as in English health.
The velarized alveolar lateral approximant (dark l) is a type of consonantal sound used in some spokenlanguages. It is an alveolar, denti-alveolar or dental lateral approximant, with a secondary articulation of velarization or pharyngealization. The regular symbols in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represent this sound are ⟨lˠ⟩ (for a velarized lateral) and ⟨lˤ⟩ (for a pharyngealized lateral), though the dedicated letter ⟨ɫ⟩ – which covers both velarization and pharyngealization – is perhaps more common. If the sound is dental or denti-alveolar, one could use a dental diacritic to indicate that: ⟨l̪ˠ⟩, ⟨l̪ˤ⟩, ⟨ɫ̪⟩.
Velarization and pharyngealization are generally associated with more dental articulations of coronal consonants, so dark l tends to be dental or denti-alveolar, while clear l tends to be retracted to an alveolar position.
When [lˠ ~ lʶ ~ lˤ ~ lˀ], most often dental. Coda is now vocalized to [u̯ ~ ʊ̯] in most of Brazil (as in rural parts of Alto Minho and Madeira). Stigmatized realizations such as [ɾ ~ ɽ ~ ɻ], the /ʁ/ range, [j] and even [∅] (zero) are some other coda allophones typical of Brazil. Might be always dental, and always dark (especially before back/rounded and close/unrounded vowels) in most dialects. See Portuguese phonology
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