Voiced dental, alveolar and postalveolar lateral approximants
The voiced alveolar lateral approximant is a type of consonantal sound used in many spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents dental, alveolar, and postalveolar lateral approximants is ⟨l⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is l.
|Voiced alveolar lateral approximant|
|Voiced postalveolar lateral approximant|
|Voiced dental lateral approximant|
As a sonorant, lateral approximants are nearly always voiced. Voiceless lateral approximants, /l̥/ are common in Sino-Tibetan languages, but uncommon elsewhere. In such cases, voicing typically starts about halfway through the hold of the consonant. No language is known to contrast such a sound with a voiceless alveolar lateral fricative [ɬ].
In a number of languages, including most varieties of English, the phoneme /l/ becomes velarized ("dark l") in certain contexts. By contrast, the non-velarized form is the "clear l" (also known as: "light l"), which occurs before and between vowels in certain English standards. A few languages have only clear l. Others may not have a clear l at all, or have them only before front vowels (especially [i]).