Voiceless retroflex lateral approximant

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Voiceless retroflex lateral approximant
IPA number 156 402A
X-SAMPA l`_0

The voiceless retroflex 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 ⟨ɭ̊⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is l`_0.

It is found as a phoneme distinct from its voiced counterpart /ɭ/ in Iaai and Toda.[1] In both of these languages it also contrasts with more anterior /, l/, which are dental in Iaai and alveolar in Toda.[1]


Features of the voiceless retroflex lateral approximant:

  • Its manner of articulation is approximant, which means it is produced by narrowing the vocal tract at the place of articulation, but not enough to produce a turbulent airstream.
  • Its place of articulation is retroflex, which prototypically means it is articulated subapical (with the tip of the tongue curled up), but more generally, it means that it is postalveolar without being palatalized. That is, besides the prototypical subapical articulation, the tongue contact can be apical (pointed) or laminal (flat).
  • 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.


In the following transcriptions, diacritics may be used to distinguish between apical [ɭ̺̊] and laminal [ɭ̻̊].

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Iaai[1] [example needed] Contrasts with /ɭ/.[1]
Toda[1] [paɭ̊] 'valley' Contrasts with /ɭ/ (as in /paɭ/ 'bangle').[1]

See also[edit]