Velar lateral approximant

The voiced velar lateral approximant is a type of consonantal sound, used 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 (since 1989) and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is L\.

Velar lateral approximant
IPA Number158
Entity (decimal)ʟ
Unicode (hex)U+029F
Audio sample
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The velar laterals of the world often involve a prestopped realization [ɡ͡ʟ].[2]


Features of the velar lateral approximant:

  • Its phonation is voiced, which means the vocal cords vibrate during the articulation.
  • 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.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
English Some dialects[3] milk [mɪʟk]  'milk' May occur before velar and labial consonants. See English phonology
Hiw[4] evov [ɡ͡ʟəβɡ͡ʟɔβ] 'evening' Realized as prestopped [ɡ͡ʟ].
Korean 달구지 / dalguji [tɐʟɡud͡ʑi] 'cart' When the final consonant ⟨ㄹ⟩[ɭ] is followed by ⟨ㄱ⟩[ɡ], ⟨ㅋ⟩[kʰ], and ⟨ㄲ⟩[k͈], appears. See Korean phonology.
Melpa[5] paa [paʟa] 'fence'
Mid-Wahgi[3] aglagle [aʟaʟe] 'dizzy'

See also



  • François, Alexandre (2010), "Phonotactics and the prestopped velar lateral of Hiw: resolving the ambiguity of a complex segment", Phonology, 27 (3): 393–434, doi:10.1017/s0952675710000205
  • Ladefoged, Peter (2005), Vowels and Consonants (2nd ed.), Blackwell
  • Roca, Iggy; Johnson, Wyn (1999), A Course in Phonology, Blackwell Publishing
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