Voiceless palatal lateral approximant

Voiceless palatal lateral approximant
IPA number 157 402A

The voiceless palatal lateral approximant is a type of consonantal sound used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ʎ̥ (devoiced ʎ), and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is L_0.

If distinction is necessary, the voiceless alveolo-palatal lateral approximant may be transcribed as l̠̊ʲ or l̥˗ʲ (both symbols denote a devoiced, retracted and palatalized l) or ʎ̥˖ (devoiced and advanced ʎ); these are essentially equivalent, since the contact includes both the blade and body (but not the tip) of the tongue. The equivalent X-SAMPA symbols are l_0_-' or l_0_-_j and L_0_+, respectively. A non-IPA letter ȴ̊ (devoiced ȴ, which is an ordinary "l", plus the curl found in the symbols for alveolo-palatal sibilant fricatives ɕ, ʑ) can also be used.

It is found as a phoneme distinct from the voiced /ʎ/ in the Xumi language spoken in China.[1][2]


Features of the voiceless palatal lateral approximant:

  • 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.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Faroese[3] kjálki [ˈt͡ʃʰaʎ̥t͡ʃɪ] 'jaw' Allophone of /l/.[3] See Faroese phonology
Inupiaq[4] sikł̣aq [sikʎ̥˖ɑq] ˈpickaxeˈ Alveolo-palatal;[4] also described as a fricative [ʎ̥˖˔].[5] Contrasts with voiceless /ɬ/ and voiced /ʎ/ and /l/.
nuiŋił̣ł̣uni [nuiŋiʎ̥˖ʎ̥˖uni] 'because it did not appear'
Norwegian Trondheim subdialect of Trøndersk[6] alt [ɑʎ̥c] 'everything, all' Allophone of /ʎ/ before /c/.[6] See Norwegian phonology
Some subdialects of Trøndersk[6] tatle [tɑʎ̥] 'acting silly' According to some scholars,[7][8] it is a phoneme that contrasts with /ʎ/ (as in /tɑʎ/ 'softwood'.)[6] See Norwegian phonology
Xumi Lower[1] [Hʎ̥˖o] 'spirit' Alveolo-palatal; contrasts with the voiced /ʎ/.[1][2]
Upper[2] [Hʎ̥˖ɛ] 'flavorless'


  1. 1 2 3 Chirkova & Chen (2013), pp. 365, 367–368.
  2. 1 2 3 Chirkova, Chen & Kocjančič Antolík (2013), pp. 382–383.
  3. 1 2 Árnason (2011:115)
  4. 1 2 Kaplan 1981, p. 29.
  5. MacLean 1980, p. XX.
  6. 1 2 3 4 Vanvik (1979), p. 37.
  7. Such as Vanvik (1979)
  8. An example of a scholar disagreeing with this position is Scholtz (2009). On page 15, she provides a phoneme chart for Trøndersk, in which /ʎ/ is included. Under the phoneme chart she writes "Vanvik also lists /ʎ̥/ as an underlying phoneme, but that’s ridiculous." She provides no further explanation for that.


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