In English, ⟨ll⟩ often represents the same sound as single ⟨l⟩: /l/. The doubling is used to indicate that the preceding vowel is (historically) short, or that the "l" sound is to be extended longer than a single ⟨l⟩ would provide (etymologically, in latinisms coming from a gemination). It is worth noting that different English language traditions use ⟨l⟩ and ⟨ll⟩ in different words: for example the past tense form of "travel" is spelt "travelled" in British English but "traveled" in American English. See also: American and British English spelling differences#Doubled consonants.
In Welsh, ⟨ll⟩ stands for a voiceless alveolar lateral fricative sound (IPA: [ɬ]). This sound is very common in place names in Wales because it occurs in the word llan, for example, Llanelli, where the ⟨ll⟩ appears twice, or Llanfairpwll, where (in the full name) the ⟨ll⟩ appears five times – with two instances of llan.
In Welsh, ⟨ll⟩ is a separate digraph letter from ⟨l⟩ (e.g., lwc sorts before llaw). In modern Welsh this, and other digraph letters, are written with two symbols but count as one letter. In Middle Welsh it was written with a tied ligature; this ligature is included in the Latin Extended Additional Unicode block as U+1EFA Ỻ LATIN CAPITAL LETTER MIDDLE-WELSH LL and U+1EFB ỻ LATIN SMALL LETTER MIDDLE-WELSH LL. This ligature is seldom used in Modern Welsh, but equivalent ligatures may be included in modern fonts, for example the three fonts commissioned by the Welsh Government in 2020.
L with middle dot
In order to not confuse ⟨ll⟩ /ʎ/ with a geminated ⟨l⟩ /ll/, Catalan uses a middle dot (interpunct or punt volat in Catalan) in between ⟨ŀl⟩. For example exceŀlent ("excellent"). The first character in the digraph, ⟨Ŀ⟩ and ⟨ŀ⟩, is included in the Latin Extended-A Unicode block at U+013F (uppercase) and U+140 (lowercase) respectively.
In Catalan typography, ⟨l·l⟩ is intended to fill two spaces, not three, so the interpunct is placed in the narrow space between the two ⟨l⟩s: ⟨ĿL⟩ and ⟨ŀl⟩. However, it is common to write ⟨L·L⟩ and ⟨l·l⟩, occupying three spaces. ⟨L.L⟩ and ⟨l.l⟩, although sometimes seen, are incorrect.
In Spanish, ⟨ll⟩ was considered from 1754 to 2010 the fourteenth letter of the Spanish alphabet because of its representation of a palatal lateral articulation consonant phoneme (as defined by the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language).
- This single letter was called elle pronounced "elye", but often losing the /l/ sound and simplifying to "eh-ye".
- The letter was collated after ⟨l⟩ as a separate entry from 1803 until April 1994 when the X Congress of the Association of Spanish Language Academies adopted standard Latin alphabet collation rules. Since then, the digraph ⟨ll⟩ has been considered a sequence of two characters. (A similar situation occurred with the Spanish-language digraph ch.)
- Hypercorrection leads some to wrongly capitalize ⟨ll⟩ as a single letter, as with the Dutch IJ, for example *LLosa instead of Llosa. In handwriting, ⟨Ll⟩ is written as a ligature of two ⟨l⟩s, with distinct uppercase and lowercase forms.
- Today, most Spanish speakers outside Spain pronounce ⟨ll⟩ with virtually the same sound as ⟨y⟩, a phenomenon called yeísmo. In much of the Spanish-speaking Americas, and in many regions of Spain, ⟨ll⟩ is produced /ʝ/ (voiced palatal fricative); in Colombia and Tabasco, Mexico, as well as Rioplatense speakers in both Argentina and Uruguay, pronounce ll as /ʒ/ (voiced postalveolar fricative) or /ʃ/ (voiceless postalveolar fricative).
While Philippine languages like Tagalog and Ilocano write ⟨ly⟩ or ⟨li⟩ when spelling Spanish loanwords, ⟨ll⟩ still survives in proper nouns. However, the pronunciation of ⟨ll⟩ is simply [lj] rather than [ʎ]. Hence the surnames Llamzon, Llamas, Padilla and Villanueva are respectively pronounced [ljɐmˈzon]/[ljɐmˈson], [ˈljɐmas], [pɐˈdɪːlja] and [ˌbɪːljanuˈwɛːba]/[ˌvɪːljanuˈwɛːva].
In Icelandic, the ⟨ll⟩ can represent [tɬ] (similar to a voiceless alveolar lateral affricate), [ɬ] or [l] depending on which letters surround it. [tɬ] appears in fullur ("full", masculine), [ɬ] appears in fullt ("full", neuter), and [l] appears in fulls ("full", neuter genitive). The geographical name Eyjafjallajökull includes the [tɬ] sound twice.
In Old Icelandic, the broken L ligature appears in some instances, such as vꜹꝇum (field) and oꝇo (all). It takes the form of a lowercase ⟨l⟩ with the top half shifted to the left, connected to the lower half with a thin horizontal stroke. This ligature is encoded in the Latin Extended-D Unicode block at U+A746 (uppercase) and U+A747 (lowercase), displaying as Ꝇ and ꝇ respectively.
- Rhys, John (December 2003). Example of a book using the "ll" ligature. ISBN 9781402153075. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
- Everson, Michael & al. "Proposal to add medievalist characters to the UCS Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine". 30 Jan 2006. Accessed 29 January 2013.
- Wong, Henry (March 20, 2020). "A typeface has been designed for the Welsh language". designweek.co.uk. Retrieved April 12, 2020.
- Pompeu, Fabra (September 1984). "Conversa 323, del 22.01.1923, i Conversa 391, del 13.06.1923". In Joaquim Rafel i Fontanals (ed.). Converses Filològiques Volum II (PDF) (in Catalan). Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain: Fundació Enciclopèdia Catalana. ISBN 84-350-5111-0. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
- Real Academia Española y Asociación de Academias de la Lengua Española, Ortografía de la llengua española (2010), tapa rústica, primera edición impresa en México, Editorial Planeta Mexicana, S.A. de C.V., bajo el sello editorial ESPASA M.R., México D.F., marzo de 2011, páginas 64 y 65.
- X Congreso (Madrid, 1994), official website.
- "Language Log". Retrieved 20 September 2014.
- Bulenda, Attila Márk. Icelandic or Norwegian Scribe? An Empirical Study of AM 310 4to, AM 655 XII-XIII 4to and AM 655 XIV 4to (PDF) (MA). Háskóli Íslands. p. 19. Retrieved May 3, 2020.