Voiceless velar lateral fricative

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Voiceless velar lateral fricative
Audio sample
Voiceless velar lateral approximant
IPA Number158 402A

The voiceless velar lateral fricative is a 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–Wahgi 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 proper has no separate symbol for these sounds, but they can be transcribed as a devoiced raised velar lateral approximant, ⟨ʟ̝̊⟩ (here the devoicing ring diacritic is placed above the letter to avoid clashing with the raising diacritic). By analogy with existing IPA laterals, a small capital Ɬ (⟨𝼄⟩) is used in the extIPA:

Velar lateral fricative.png

𝼄⟩ was added to Unicode in 2021.

Some scholars also posit the voiceless velar lateral approximant distinct from the fricative. The approximant may be represented in the IPA as ⟨ʟ̥⟩.


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 (the dorsum) 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.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Archi[1] лъат [ʟ̝̊at] 'sea' Pre-velar.[1]
English Western American[3] clear [kʟ̥iɚ̯] 'clear' Possible allophone of /l/ after /k/.[3] See English phonology
German Austrian[4] klar [kʟ̥ɑː] 'clear' Possible allophone of /l/ after the aspirated allophone of /k/.[4] See Standard German phonology
Wahgi [noʟ̝̊˩] 'water' [5]


  1. ^ a b c "the Archi language tutorial" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-09-04. Retrieved 2009-12-23.
  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]
  3. ^ a b Grønnum (2005), p. 154.
  4. ^ a b Grønnum (2005), pp. 153–154.
  5. ^ Donald J. Phillips (1976). Wahgi Phonology and Morphology (PDF). B-36. Pacific Linguistics. p. 18.