Voiced velar lateral approximant
IPA Number158
Audio sample
Entity (decimal)ʟ
Unicode (hex)U+029F
Braille⠔ (braille pattern dots-35)⠇ (braille pattern dots-123)

The voiced velar lateral approximant is a type of consonantal sound, used as a distinct consonant in a very small number[1] of spoken languages in the world. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ʟ a small capital version of the Latin letter l (since 1989), and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is L\.

The velar laterals of the world often involve a prestopped realization [ɡ͡ʟ].[2]


Features of the voiced velar lateral approximant:

The velar lateral [ʟ] involves no contact of the tip of the tongue with the roof of the mouth: just like for the velar stop [ɡ], the only contact takes place between the back of the tongue and the velum. This contrasts with the velarized alveolar lateral approximant [ɫ] – also known as the dark l in English feel [fiːɫ] – for which the apex touches the alveolar ridge.[3]


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
English Southern US[4] middle [ˈmɪɾʟ̩] 'middle' May occur before or after a velar consonant, as in milk and cycle, when assimilating /ʊ/, as in wolf, or before labial consonants, as in help. See English phonology
full [ˈfʟ̩ː] 'full'
Hiw[5] evov [ɡ͡ʟəβˈɡ͡ʟɔβ] 'evening' Realized as prestopped [ɡ͡ʟ].
Melpa[6] paa [paʟa] 'fence' Realized as prestopped [ɡ͡ʟ].
Mid-Wahgi[7] aglagle [aʟaʟe] 'dizzy' Realized as prestopped [ɡ͡ʟ].

See also


  1. ^ François (2010), pp. 422–426.
  2. ^ François (2010), p. 425.
  3. ^ François (2010), p. 423.
  4. ^ Wells (1982), p. 551.
  5. ^ François (2010), p. 419.
  6. ^ Ladefoged (2005), p. 169.
  7. ^ Roca & Johnson (1999), p. 73.


  • François, Alexandre (2010), "Phonotactics and the prestopped velar lateral of Hiw: resolving the ambiguity of a complex segment" (PDF), Phonology, 27 (3): 393–434, doi:10.1017/s0952675710000205, S2CID 62628417
  • Ladefoged, Peter (2005), Vowels and Consonants (2nd ed.), Blackwell
  • Roca, Iggy; Johnson, Wyn (1999), A Course in Phonology, Blackwell Publishing
  • Wells, John C. (1982). Accents of English. Vol. 3: Beyond the British Isles (pp. i–xx, 467–674). Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511611766. ISBN 0-52128541-0 .