Voiceless Alveolar Lateral Fricative
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Voiceless Alveolar Lateral Fricative

Voiceless alveolar lateral fricative
IPA Number148
Entity (decimal)ɬ
Unicode (hex)U+026C
Audio sample

The voiceless alveolar lateral fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents voiceless dental, alveolar, and postalveolar lateral fricatives is [?], and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is [K]. The symbol [?] is called "belted l" and should not be confused with "l with tilde", [?], which transcribes a different sound, the velarized alveolar lateral approximant. It should also be distinguished from a voiceless alveolar lateral approximant, although the fricative is sometimes incorrectly described as a "voiceless l", a description fitting only of the approximant.

Several Welsh names beginning with this sound (e.g. Llwyd [d], Llywelyn ['w?l?n]) have been borrowed into English, where they either retain the Welsh ⟨ll⟩ spelling but are pronounced with an (Lloyd, Llewellyn), or are substituted with ⟨fl⟩ (pronounced /fl/) (Floyd, Fluellen).


Features of the voiceless alveolar 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 alveolar, which means it is articulated with either the tip or the blade of the tongue at the alveolar ridge, termed respectively apical and laminal.
  • 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.


Although the sound is rare among European languages outside the Caucasus (being found notably in Welsh, where it is written ⟨ll⟩),[1] it is fairly common among indigenous languages of the Americas such as Nahuatl, Navajo,[2] and North Caucasian languages, such as Avar.[3] It is also found in African languages like Zulu, Asian languages like Chukchi and some Yue dialects like Taishanese, and several Formosan languages and a number of dialects in Taiwan.[4]

The sound is found in two of the constructed languages invented by J. R. R. Tolkien, Sindarin (inspired by Welsh) and Quenya (inspired by Finnish, Ancient Greek, and Latin).[5][6] In Sindarin it is written as ⟨lh⟩ initially and ⟨ll⟩ medially and finally; in Quenya it only appears initially and is written ⟨hl⟩.

Dental or denti-alveolar

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Mapudungun[7] kagü? [k?'?] 'phlegm that is spit' Interdental; possible utterance-final allophone of /l?/.[7]
Norwegian Trondheim dialect[8] lt [s?at?] 'sold' Laminal denti-alveolar; allophone of /l/. Also described as an approximant .[9] See Norwegian phonology


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Ahtna dze? [ts] 'mountain'
Aleut Atkan dialect hlax? [] 'boy'
Amis Southern dialect kudiwis [ku?iwis] 'rabbit'
Avar ? ['?ab?o] 'three'
Basay lanum [?anum] 'water'
Berber Ait Seghrouchen altu [æ'w] 'not yet' Allophone of /lt/
Bunun Isbukun ludun [?u?un] 'mountain'
Bura[10] [example needed] Contrasts with and .[10]
Cherokee Some speakers ?? [?a] 'no' Corresponds to [t?] in the speech of most speakers
Chickasaw lhinko [?i?ko] 'to be fat'
Chinese Taishanese[11] ? [?am?] 'three' Corresponds to [s] in Standard Cantonese
Pu-Xian Min ? [?ua] 'sand'
Chipewyan ?ue [?ue] 'fish'
Chukchi ?? [?et] 'head'
Circassian ? 'red'
Creek (Mvskoke) rakk? [?akki:] 'big' Historically transcribed thl or tl by English speakers
Dahalo [?á?i] 'fat'
Dogrib ?o [?o] 'smoke'
Eyak qe? [q?] 'woman'
Fali [pa?kan] 'shoulder'
Faroese hjálp [jp] 'help'
Forest Nenets ?? [xau] 'rain' Forest Nenets has both plain /?/ and palatalized //
Greenlandic illu [i?:u] 'house' Realization of geminated /l/
Hadza sleme [?eme] 'man'
Haida tla'únhl [tn?] 'six'
Halkomelem ?'eqw [?eqw] 'wet'
Hebrew Biblical [:t:n] 'Satan'
Hla'alua hla [] 'and'
Hmong hli 'moon'
Icelandic siglt [st] 'have sailed' Allophone of /l?/. See Icelandic phonology.
Inuktitut ak?ak [ak?ak] 'grizzly bear' See Inuit phonology
Kabardian ? 'blood'
Kaska ts? [ts:?] 'axe'
Lushootseed ?uk?a? [?uk?a?] 'sun'
Mapudungun[7] kaül [k?'] 'a different song' Possible utterance-final allophone of /l/.[7]
Mochica paxllær [pa?ø?] Phaseolus lunatus
Moloko sla [?a] 'cow'
Mongolian ? [?a] 'Wednesday' Only in loanwords from Tibetan;[12] here from (lhag-pa)
Nahuatl ?ltep?tl [a:?'t?p?:t] 'city' Allophone of /l/
Navajo ?a' [?a?] 'some' See Navajo phonology
Nisga'a hloks [?oks] 'sun'
Norwegian Trøndersk tatl / tasl [t] 'sissiness' See Norwegian phonology
Nuxalk lhm [?m] 'to stand'
Saanich ?NI?E? [?ní] 'we, us'
Saaroa rahli [ra?i] 'chief'
Sahaptin ?p'ú? ['?p'u?] 'tears'
Sandawe lhaa [?á:] 'goat'
Sassarese morthu 'dead'
Sawi ?o [?o] 'three' Developed out of the earlier tr consonant clusters[13]
Shuswap ?ept [?ept] 'fire is out'
Sotho ho hlahloba [ho ?b?] 'to examine' See Sotho phonology
St'át'imcets lhésp [sp] 'rash'
Swedish Jämtlandic kallt [ka?t] 'cold' See Swedish phonology
Taos ?iwéna [?ì'w?næ] 'wife' See Taos phonology
Tera[14] tleebi [?è?:bi] 'side'
Thao kilhpul [ki?pul] 'star'
Tlingit lingít [nkt?] 'Tlingit'
Tsez ? 'water'
Welsh llall [?a:?] '(the) other' See Welsh phonology
Yi hlop-bbop [?obo] 'moon'
Xhosa sihlala [sí'?a:la] 'we stay'
Zulu isihlahla [isí'?a:?a] 'tree'
Zuni asdem?a [?astem?an] 'ten'

Semitic languages

The sound is conjectured as a phoneme for Proto-Semitic language, usually transcribed as ?; it has evolved into Arabic [?], Hebrew [s]:

Proto-Semitic Akkadian Arabic Phoenician Hebrew Aramaic Ge'ez
? s? ? ? ? ? s ? s ? ?

Amongst Semitic languages, the sound still exists in contemporary Soqotri[] and Mehri.[15] In Ge'ez, it is written with the letter ?awt.[]

Capital letter

Latin Capital Letter L with Belt

Since the IPA letter "?" has been adopted into the standard orthographies for many native North American languages, a capital letter L with belt "?" was requested by academics and added to the Unicode Standard version 7.0 in 2014 at U+A7AD.[16][17]

See also


  1. ^ Ladefoged, Peter (1996). The Sounds of the World's Languages. Oxford: Blackwell. p. 203. ISBN 0-631-19815-6.
  2. ^ McDonough, Joyce (2003). The Navajo Sound System. Cambridge: Kluwer. ISBN 1-4020-1351-5.
  3. ^ Laver, John (1994). Principles of Phonetics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 257-258. ISBN 0-521-45655-X.
  4. ^ Henry Y., Chang (2000). (Kavalan Grammar). Taipei? (Yuan-Liou). pp. 43-45. ISBN 9573238985.
  5. ^ Helge, Fauskanger. "Sindarin - the Noble Tongue". Ardalambion. Retrieved 2019.
  6. ^ Helge, Fauskanger. "Quenya Course". Ardalambion. Retrieved 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d Sadowsky et al. (2013:88, 91)
  8. ^ Kristoffersen (2000:79)
  9. ^ Vanvik (1979:36)
  10. ^ a b Grønnum (2005:154-155)
  11. ^ Taishanese Dictionary & Resources
  12. ^ Svantesson et al. (2005:30-33)
  13. ^ Liljegren, Henrik (2009). "The Dangari Tongue of Choke and Machoke: Tracing the proto-language of Shina enclaves in the Hindu Kush". Acta Orientalia (70): 7-62.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  14. ^ Tench (2007:228)
  15. ^ Howe, Darin (2003). Segmental Phonology. University of Calgary. p. 22.
  16. ^ Joshua M Jensen, Karl Pentzlin, 2012-02-08, Proposal to encode a Latin Capital Letter L with Belt
  17. ^ "Unicode Character 'LATIN CAPITAL LETTER L WITH BELT' (U+A7AD)". www.fileformat.info. FileFormat.Info. Retrieved 2020.


Further reading

External links

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