Retroflex lateral approximant

The 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 ⟨ɭ⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is l`.

The retroflex lateral approximant contrasts phonemically with its voiceless counterpart /ɭ̊/ 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]

Retroflex lateral approximant
IPA number156
Entity (decimal)ɭ
Unicode (hex)U+026D
Braille⠲ (braille pattern dots-256)⠇ (braille pattern dots-123)
Audio sample
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Features of the retroflex lateral approximant:


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

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Bashkir ел [jɪ̞ɭ]  'wind' Apical retroflex lateral; occurs in front vowel contexts.
Enindhilyagwa marluwiya [maɭuwija] 'emu'
Faroese árla [ɔɻɭa] 'early' Allophone of /l/ after /ɹ/. See Faroese phonology
French Standard[2] belle jambe [bɛɭ ʒɑ̃b] 'beautiful leg' Allophone of /l/ before /f/ and /ʒ/ for some speakers.[2] See French phonology
Kannada ಎಳ್ಳು [ˈeɭɭu] 'sesame' Represented by a ⟨
Khanty Eastern dialects пуӆ [puɭ] 'bit'
Some northern dialects
Korean 하늘 [hɐnɯɭ] 'sky' Represented by a ⟨⟩. May also be pronounced as /l/. Pronounced as /ɾ/ syllable-initial
Malayalam മലയാളി [mɐl̪əjɐ̞ːɭ̺ɪ]  'Malayalam people' Represented by a ⟨⟩. Apical. Never word-initial and long and short forms are contrastive word-medially[3]
Mapudungun[4] mara [ˈmɐ̝ɭɜ] 'hare' Possible realization of /ʐ/; may be [ʐ] or [ɻ] instead.[4]
Marathi बाळ [baːɭ] 'baby/child' Represented by a ⟨⟩. Pronounced as /ɭə/. See Marathi phonology.
Miyako Irabu dialect 昼間
[pɭːma] 'daytime' Allophone of /ɾ/ used everywhere except syllable-initially.
Norwegian Eastern and central dialects farlig [ˈfɑːɭi] 'dangerous' See Norwegian phonology
Rajasthani [pʰəɭ] 'fruit' Represented by a ⟨ळ⟩.
Punjabi ਤ੍ਰੇਲ਼ [t̪ɾeɭ] 'dew' Represented by a ⟨ਲ਼⟩. Mostly found in rural dialects
Vedic Sanskrit गरु [gɔruɭɔ] 'the mythological bird who Is the vahana of Lord Vishnu' Represented by a ⟨⟩. Pronounced as /ɭɔ/.This consonant was present in Vedic Sanskrit but had become ड/ड़ in classical Sanskrit. See Vedic Sanskrit and Sanskrit Phonology.
Swedish sorl [soːɭ]  'murmur' (noun) See Swedish phonology
Tamil[5] ஆள் [äːɭ] 'person' Represented by a ⟨ள்⟩. See Tamil phonology
Telugu నీళ్ళు [niːɭːu] 'water' Represented by a ⟨

See also


  1. ^ a b Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), p. 198.
  2. ^ a b Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), p. 192.
  3. ^ Jiang (2010), pp. 16–17.
  4. ^ a b Sadowsky et al. (2013), p. 90.
  5. ^ Keane (2004), p. 111.


  • Jiang, Haowen (April 2010), Malayalam: a Grammatical Sketch and a Text, Department of Linguistics, Rice University
  • Keane, Elinor (2004), "Tamil", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 34 (1): 111–116, doi:10.1017/S0025100304001549
  • Ladefoged, Peter; Maddieson, Ian (1996). The Sounds of the World's Languages. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-631-19815-4.
  • Sadowsky, Scott; Painequeo, Héctor; Salamanca, Gastón; Avelino, Heriberto (2013), "Mapudungun", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 43 (1): 87–96, doi:10.1017/S0025100312000369
  • Shimoji, Michinori (December 2008), "Phonology", A Grammar of Irabu, a Southern Ryukyuan Language, The Australian National University

External links

Approximant consonant

Approximants are speech sounds that involve the articulators approaching each other but not narrowly enough nor with enough articulatory precision to create turbulent airflow. Therefore, approximants fall between fricatives, which do produce a turbulent airstream, and vowels, which produce no turbulence. This class of sounds includes lateral approximants like [l] (as in less), non-lateral approximants like [ɹ] (as in rest), and semivowels like [j] and [w] (as in yes and west, respectively).


balabodha (Marathi: बाळबोध, bāḷabōdha, Marathi pronunciation: [baːɭboːd̪ʱ], Translation: Understood by Children) is a slightly modified style of the Devanagari script used to write the Marathi language and the Korku language. What sets balabodha apart from the Devananagari script used for other languages is the more frequent and regular use of both ळ /ɭ/ (retroflex lateral approximant) and र्‍ (called the eyelash reph/raphar).

Garhwali language

Garhwali language (गढ़वळि ट्वाटी) is a Central Pahari language belonging to the Northern Zone of Indo-Aryan languages. It is primarily spoken by over 2.5 million Garhwali people who are from the Garhwal Division of the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand in the Indian Himalayas.The Central Pahari languages include Garhwali and Kumauni (spoken in the Kumaun region of Uttarakhand). Garhwali, like Kumauni, has many regional dialects spoken in different places in Uttarakhand. The script used for Garhwali is Devanagari.Due to a number of reasons, Garhwali is one of the languages which is shrinking very rapidly. UNESCO's Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger designates Garhwali as a language which is in the unsafe category and requires consistent conservation efforts.Almost all people who can speak and understand Garhwali can also speak and understand Hindi, one of the most commonly spoken languages of India. As per a study, Garhwali is only 50% intelligible for Hindi speakers and there is one-way full intelligibility of Hindi for Garhwali speakers because of the high rate of Hindi literacy in Uttarakhand and the popularity of Hindi in Northern India.

IPA Extensions

IPA Extensions is a block (0250–02AF) of the Unicode standard that contains full size letters used in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). Both modern and historical characters are included, as well as former and proposed IPA signs and non-IPA phonetic letters. Additional characters employed for phonetics, like the palatalization sign, are encoded in the blocks Phonetic Extensions (1D00–1D7F) and Phonetic Extensions Supplement (1D80–1DBF). Diacritics are found in the Spacing Modifier Letters (02B0–02FF) and Combining Diacritical Marks (0300–036F) blocks.

With the ability to use Unicode for the presentation of IPA symbols, ASCII-based systems such as X-SAMPA or Kirshenbaum are being supplanted. Within the Unicode blocks there are also a few former IPA characters no longer in international use by linguists.

Japanese phonology

The phonology of Japanese features about 15 consonant phonemes, the cross-linguistically typical five-vowel system of /a, e, i, o, u/, and a relatively simple phonotactic distribution of phonemes allowing few consonant clusters. It is traditionally described as having a mora as the unit of timing, with each mora taking up about the same length of time, so that the disyllabic [ɲip.poɴ] ("Japan") may be analyzed as /niQpoN/ and dissected into four moras, /ni/, /Q/, /po/, and /N/.

Standard Japanese is a pitch-accent language, wherein the position or absence of a pitch drop may determine the meaning of a word: /haꜜsiɡa/ "chopsticks", /hasiꜜɡa/ "bridge", /hasiɡa/ "edge" (see Japanese pitch accent).

Unless otherwise noted, the following describes the standard variety of Japanese based on the Tokyo dialect.

Lateral consonant

A lateral is consonant in which the airstream proceeds along the sides of the tongue, but it is blocked by the tongue from going through the middle of the mouth. An example of a lateral consonant is the English l, as in Larry.

For the most common laterals, the tip of the tongue makes contact with the upper teeth (see dental consonant) or the upper gum (see alveolar consonant), but there are many other possible places for laterals to be made. The most common laterals are approximants and belong to the class of liquids, but lateral fricatives and affricates are also common in some parts of the world. Some languages, such as the Iwaidja and Ilgar languages of Australia, have lateral flaps, and others, such as the Xhosa and Zulu languages of Africa, have lateral clicks.

When pronouncing the labiodental fricatives [f] and [v], the lip blocks the airflow in the centre of the vocal tract, so the airstream proceeds along the sides instead. Nevertheless, they are not considered lateral consonants because the airflow never goes over the tongue. No known language makes a distinction between lateral and non-lateral labiodentals. Plosives are never lateral, but they may have lateral release. Nasals are never lateral either, but some languages have lateral nasal clicks. For consonants articulated in the throat (laryngeals), the lateral distinction is not made by any language, although pharyngeal and epiglottal laterals are reportedly possible.

List of Latin-script letters

This is a list of letters of the Latin script. The definition of a Latin-script letter for this list is a character encoded in the Unicode Standard that has a script property of 'Latin' and the general category of 'Letter'. An overview of the distribution of Latin-script letters in Unicode is given in Latin script in Unicode.

List of consonants

This is a list of all the consonants which have a dedicated letter in the International Phonetic Alphabet, plus some of the consonants which require diacritics, ordered by place and manner of articulation.

Marathi language

Marathi (English: ; मराठी Marāṭhī; Marathi: [məˈɾaʈʰi] (listen)) is an Indo-Aryan language spoken predominantly by around 83 million Marathi people of Maharashtra, India. It is the official language and co-official language in the Maharashtra and Goa states of Western India, respectively, and is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India. At 83 million speakers in 2011, Marathi ranks 19th in the list of most spoken languages in the world. Marathi has the third largest number of native speakers in India, after Hindi & Bengali. The language has some of the oldest literature of all modern Indian languages, dating back to around 900 AD. The major dialects of Marathi are Standard Marathi and the Varhadi dialect. Koli and Malvani Konkani have been heavily influenced by Marathi varieties.

Marathi distinguishes inclusive and exclusive forms of 'we' and possesses a three-way gender system that features the neuter in addition to the masculine and the feminine. In its phonology, it contrasts apico-alveolar with alveopalatal affricates and alveolar with retroflex laterals ([l] and [ɭ] (Marathi letters ल and ळ respectively).

Parkari Koli language

The Parkari Koli language (sometimes called just Parkari) is a language mainly spoken in the province of Sindh, Pakistan. It is spoken in the southeast tip bordering India, Tharparkar District, Nagar Parkar. Most of the lower Thar Desert, west as far as Indus River, bordered north and west by Hyderabad, to south and west of Badin.

Retroflex consonant

A retroflex consonant is a coronal consonant where the tongue has a flat, concave, or even curled shape, and is articulated between the alveolar ridge and the hard palate. They are sometimes referred to as cerebral consonants, especially in Indology. Other terms occasionally encountered are apico-domal and cacuminal.

The Latin-derived word retroflex means "bent back"; some retroflex consonants are pronounced with the tongue fully curled back so that articulation involves the underside of the tongue tip (subapical). These sounds are sometimes described as "true" retroflex consonants. However, retroflexes are commonly taken to include other consonants having a similar place of articulation without such extreme curling of the tongue; these may be articulated with the tongue tip (apical) or the tongue blade (laminal).

Saisiyat language

Saisiyat (sometimes spelled Saisiat) is the language of the Saisiyat, a Taiwanese indigenous people. It is a Formosan language of the Austronesian family. It has approximately 4,750 speakers.

Sardinian language

Sardinian or Sard (sardu/sadru [ˈsaɾdu/'sadru], limba sarda [ˈlimba ˈzaɾda] or lìngua sarda [ˈliŋɡu.a ˈzaɾda]) is the primary indigenous Romance language spoken by the Sardinians on most of the island of Sardinia. Many Romance linguists consider it the closest genealogical descendant to Latin. However, it also incorporates a Pre-Latin (mostly Paleo-Sardinian and, to a much lesser degree, Punic) substratum, as well as a Byzantine Greek, Catalan, Spanish and Italian superstratum due to the political membership of the island, which became a Byzantine possession followed by a significant period of self-rule, fell into the Iberian sphere of influence in the late Middle Ages, and eventually into the Italian one in the 18th century.

In 1997, Sardinian was recognized by a regional law, along with other languages spoken on the island; in 1999, Sardinian was also granted recognition by the national Law no. 482/1999 with other eleven minoranze linguistiche storiche ("historical linguistic minorities"), among which Sardinian stands out as the numerically biggest, even if continously decreasing.However, the vitality of the Sardinian-speaking community is threatened, and UNESCO classifies the language as "definitely endangered", although an estimated 68.4 percent of the islanders reported to have a good oral command of Sardinian in 2007. While the level of language competence is in fact relatively high among the older generation beyond retirement age, it has been estimated to have dropped to less than 13 percent among children, with Sardinian being kept as a heritage language.

Trigraph (orthography)

A trigraph (from the Greek: τρεῖς, treîs, "three" and γράφω, gráphō, "write") is a group of three characters used to represent a single sound or a combination of sounds that does not correspond to the written letters combined.

Vedic Sanskrit

Vedic Sanskrit is an Indo-European language, more specifically one branch of the Indo-Iranian group. It is the ancient language of the Vedas of Hinduism, texts compiled over the period of the mid-2nd to mid-1st millennium BCE. It was orally preserved, predating the advent of Brahmi script by several centuries. Vedic Sanskrit is an archaic language, whose consensus translation has been challenging.Extensive ancient literature in the Vedic Sanskrit language has survived into the modern era, and this has been a major source of information for reconstructing Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Indo-Iranian history. Quite early in the pre-historic era, Sanskrit separated from the Avestan language, an Eastern Iranian language. The exact century of separation is unknown, but this separation of Sanskrit and Avestan occurred certainly before 1800 BCE. The Avestan language developed in ancient Persia, was the language of Zoroastrianism, but was a dead language in the Sasanian period. Vedic Sanskrit developed independently in ancient India, evolved into classical Sanskrit after the grammar and linguistic treatise of Pāṇini, and later into many related Indian subcontinent languages in which are found the voluminous ancient and medieval literature of Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism.

Voiceless retroflex lateral approximant

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. In both of these languages it also contrasts with more anterior /l̥, l/, which are dental in Iaai and alveolar in Toda.


The Extended Speech Assessment Methods Phonetic Alphabet (X-SAMPA; , /%Eks"s{mp@/) is a variant of SAMPA developed in 1995 by John C. Wells, professor of phonetics at the University of London. It is designed to unify the individual language SAMPA alphabets, and extend SAMPA to cover the entire range of characters in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). The result is a SAMPA-inspired remapping of the IPA into 7-bit ASCII.

SAMPA was devised as a hack to work around the inability of text encodings to represent IPA symbols. Later, as Unicode support for IPA symbols became more widespread, the necessity for a separate, computer-readable system for representing the IPA in ASCII decreased. However, X-SAMPA is still useful as the basis for an input method for true IPA.

Retroflex lateral approximant (vector)
IPA topics

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