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Voiced palatal lateral approximant

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Voiced palatal lateral approximant
IPA Number157
Audio sample
Entity (decimal)ʎ
Unicode (hex)U+028E
Braille⠦ (braille pattern dots-236)⠽ (braille pattern dots-13456)
Voiced alveolo-palatal lateral approximant

The voiced palatal 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 ⟨ʎ⟩, a rotated lowercase letter ⟨y⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is L.

Many languages that were previously thought to have a palatal lateral approximant actually have a lateral approximant that is, broadly, alveolo-palatal; that is to say, it is articulated at a place in-between the alveolar ridge and the hard palate (excluded), and it may be variously described as alveolo-palatal, lamino-postalveolar,[1] or postalveolo-prepalatal.[2] None of the 13 languages investigated by Recasens (2013), many of them Romance, has a 'true' palatal.[3] That is likely the case for several other languages listed here. Some languages, like Portuguese and Catalan, have a lateral approximant that varies between alveolar and alveolo-palatal.[4]

There is no dedicated symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents the alveolo-palatal lateral approximant. If precision is desired, it may be transcribed ⟨l̠ʲ⟩ or ⟨ʎ̟⟩; they are essentially equivalent because the contact includes both the blade and body (but not the tip) of the tongue. There is also a non-IPA letter U+0234 ȴ LATIN SMALL LETTER L WITH CURL; ȴ ("l", plus the curl found in the symbols for alveolo-palatal sibilant fricatives ɕ, ʑ) is used especially in Sinological circles.

The voiced palatal lateral approximant contrasts phonemically with its voiceless counterpart /ʎ̥/ in the Xumi language spoken in China.[5][6]


Capital letter turned y
Small letter turned y
Cased forms of the IPA letter in the Pilagá alphabet. The capital is not supported by Unicode.

Features of the voiced palatal lateral approximant:


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Albanian[7] Malsia e Madhe lule [ˈʎuʎɛ] 'flower'
Aragonese agulla [a̠ˈɣuʎa̠] 'needle'
Aromanian ljepuri [ˈʎe̞puri] 'rabbit'
Astur-Leonese Asturian llingua [ˈʎĩŋɡwa̝] 'language' Where /ʎ/ is absent and replaced by different sounds (depending on dialect), a phenomenon known as che vaqueira, its corresponding sounds are spelled ḷḷ.
Mirandese lhéngua [ˈʎɛ̃ɡwɐ]
Aymara llaki [ʎaki] 'sad'
Basque bonbilla [bo̞mbiʎa̠] 'bulb'
Breton familh [fa̠miʎ] 'family'
Bulgarian любов [ʎuˈbof] 'love' Alveolo-palatal. See Bulgarian phonology
Catalan Standard llac [ˈʎ̟a̠k] 'lake' Alveolo-palatal.[2] See Catalan phonology
Eastern Aragon clau [ˈkʎ̟a̠ʊ̯] 'key' Allophone of /l/ in consonant clusters.
Chipaya lloqa [ʎoqa] 'bank' See Chipaya languages
English Australian million [ˈmɪʎən] 'million' A frequent allophone of the sequence /lj/
Canadian (Atlantic and Newfoundland)
County Donegal[8] Allophone of the sequence /lj/.[8]
General American[9] A frequent allophone of the sequence /lj/; sometimes realized as [jj].[9] See English phonology
Hiberno-English A frequent allophone of the sequence /lj/
New England
New York City
New Zealand
Received Pronunciation
South African
Southern American
Philippine gorilla [goˈɾɪʎɐ] 'gorilla' Common realization of ⟨ll⟩ between vowels due to Spanish influence.[citation needed]
Enindhilyagwa angalya [aŋal̠ʲa] 'place' Laminal post-alveolar
Faroese[10] telgja [ˈtʰɛʎt͡ʃa] 'to carve' Allophone of /l/ before palatal consonants.[10] Sometimes voiceless [ʎ̥].[10] See Faroese phonology
Franco-Provençal balyi [baʎi] 'give'
French Some dialects[11] papillon [papiʎɒ̃] 'butterfly' Corresponds to /j/ in modern standard French. See French phonology
Galician Standard illado [iˈʎa̠ðo̝] 'insulated' Most Galician speakers, especially the urban and younger populations, are nowadays yeístas[12] because of influence from Spanish
Greek ήλιος [ˈiʎos] 'sun' Postalveolar.[13] See Modern Greek phonology
Hungarian Northern dialects[14] lyuk [ʎuk] 'hole' Alveolo-palatal.[15] Modern Standard Hungarian has undergone a phenomenon akin to Spanish yeísmo, merging /ʎ/ into /j/. See Hungarian ly and Hungarian phonology
Irish duille [ˈd̪ˠɪl̠ʲə] 'leaf' Alveolo-palatal. Some dialects contrast it with palatalized alveolar /lʲ/. See Irish phonology
Italian[2] figlio [ˈfiʎːo] 'son' Alveolo-palatal.[2] Realized as fricative [ʎ̝] in a large number of accents.[16] See Italian phonology
Ivilyuat Iviuɂat [ʔivɪʎʊʔat] 'the speaking [Ivilyuat]' ('Ivilyuat language')
Jaqaru allaka [a'ʎaka] 'pumpkin' See Jaqaru Language
Jebero llinllin[17] [ʎinʎin] 'name' See Jebero Language
Korean Seoul dialect 천리마 / cheollima [t͡ɕʰʌ̹ʎʎima̠] 'qianlima' /l/ is palatalized to [ʎ] before /i, j/ and before palatal consonant allophones[18]
Latvian ļaudis [ʎàwdis] 'people' See Latvian phonology
Mapudungun aylla [ˈɐjʎɜ] 'nine' See Mapuche language
Norwegian Northern and central dialects[19] alle [ɑʎːe] 'all' See Norwegian phonology
Occitan Standard miralhar [miɾa̠ˈʎa̠] 'to reflect' See Occitan phonology
Paiwan Standard veljevelj [vəʎəvəʎ] 'banana' See Paiwan language
Paez silli [siʎi] 'reed' See Paezan languages
Portuguese Standard alho [ˈaʎu] 'garlic' Alveolo-palatal in European Portuguese.[20] May instead be [lʲ], [l] (Northeast) or [j] (Caipira), especially before unrounded vowels.[21][22] See Portuguese phonology
Many dialects[23] sandália [sɐ̃ˈda̠l̠ʲɐ] 'sandal' Possible realization of post-stressed /li/ plus vowel.
Quechua[24] qallu [qaʎʊ] 'tongue'
Romanian Transylvanian dialects[25] lingură [ˈʎinɡurə] 'spoon' Corresponds to [l][in which environments?] in standard Romanian. See Romanian phonology
Scottish Gaelic[26] till [tʲʰiːʎ] 'return' Alveolo-palatal.[citation needed] See Scottish Gaelic phonology
Serbo-Croatian[27] љуљaшка / ljuljaška [ʎ̟ǔʎ̟äːʂkä] 'swing (seat)' Palato-alveolar.[27] See Serbo-Croatian phonology
Sissano piyl [piʎ] 'fish'
Slovak ľúbiť [ˈʎu̞ːbi̞c] 'to love' Merges with /l/ in western dialects. See Slovak phonology
Spanish[28] Andean (from Argentina to Colombia) caballo [ka̠ˈβ̞a̠.ʎo̞] 'horse' Found in traditional speakers in Peninsular Spanish. Also found in Andean countries and Paraguay. For most speakers, this sound has merged with /ʝ/, a phenomenon called yeísmo. See Spanish phonology. "Caballo" with yeísmo is pronounced [ka̠ˈβ̞a̠.ʝo̞]
Castilian, Aragonese and Catalonian outside of large cities[29]
Central areas in Extremadura
Eastern and southwestern Manchego[citation needed]
Very few areas in Andalusia
Xumi Lower[5] [ʎ̟o˩˥] 'musk deer' Alveolo-palatal; contrasts with the voiceless /ʎ̥/.[5][6]
Upper[6] [ʎ̟ɛ˦] 'correct, right'

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Recasens (2013:2), citing Ladefoged (1997:602)
  2. ^ a b c d Recasens et al. (1993), p. 222.
  3. ^ Recasens (2013), p. 11.
  4. ^ Recasens (2013), pp. 10–13.
  5. ^ a b c Chirkova & Chen (2013), pp. 365, 367–368.
  6. ^ a b c Chirkova, Chen & Kocjančič Antolík (2013), pp. 382–383.
  7. ^ Dedvukaj, Lindon; Ndoci, Rexhina (2023). "Linguistic variation within the Northwestern Gheg Albanian dialect". Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America. 8 (1). Linguistic Society of America: 7. doi:10.3765/plsa.v8i1.5501.
  8. ^ a b Stenson (1991), cited in Hickey (2004:71)
  9. ^ a b Wells (1982), p. 490.
  10. ^ a b c Árnason (2011), p. 115.
  11. ^ Grevisse & Goosse (2011, §33, b), Fagyal, Kibbee & Jenkins (2006:47)
  12. ^ Regueira, Xosé L. (December 1996). "Galician". Journal of the International Phonetic Association. 26 (2): 119–122. doi:10.1017/S0025100300006162.
  13. ^ Arvaniti (2007), p. 20.
  14. ^ Benkő (1972), p. ?.
  15. ^ Recasens (2013), p. 10.
  16. ^ Ashby (2011:64): "(...) in a large number of Italian accents, there is considerable friction involved in the pronunciation of [ʎ], creating a voiced palatal lateral fricative (for which there is no established IPA symbol)."
  17. ^ "Diccionario Shiwilu o Jebero (Pano-Tacanas) | PDF | Lengua española | Vocal". Scribd. Retrieved 2023-10-11.
  18. ^ Crosby, Drew; Dalola, Amanda (March 2021). "Phonetic variation in the Korean liquid phoneme". Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America. 6 (1): 706–707, 711. doi:10.3765/plsa.v6i1.5002. Retrieved 5 September 2022.
  19. ^ Skjekkeland (1997), pp. 105–107.
  20. ^ Teixeira et al. (2012), p. 321.
  21. ^ Stein (2011), p. 223.
  22. ^ Aragão (2009), p. 168.
  23. ^ "Considerações sobre o status das palato-alveolares em português". Archived from the original on 2014-04-07. Retrieved 2014-04-06.
  24. ^ Ladefoged (2005), p. 149.
  25. ^ Pop (1938), p. 30.
  26. ^ Oftedal (1956), p. ?.
  27. ^ a b Jazić (1977:?), cited in Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:188)
  28. ^ [1] Archived 2015-11-20 at the Wayback Machine ALPI
  29. ^ Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté (2003), p. 255.
  30. ^ Peña Arce, Jaime (2015). "Yeísmo en el español de América. Algunos apuntes sobre su extensión" [Yeísmo in the Spanish spoken in America. Some notes on its extension]. Revista de Filología de la Universidad de la Laguna (in Spanish). 33: 175–199. Retrieved October 5, 2021.