Voiceless palatal lateral approximant

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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⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is L_0.

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 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 palatal, which means it is articulated with the middle or back part of the tongue raised to the hard palate.
  • 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.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Faroese[3] kjálki [ˈt͡ʃʰaʎ̥t͡ʃɪ] 'jaw' Allophone of /l/.[3] See Faroese phonology
Norwegian Trondheim subdialect of Trøndersk[4] alt [ɑʎ̥c] 'everything, all' Allophone of /ʎ/ before /c/.[4] See Norwegian phonology
Some subdialects of Trøndersk[4] tatle [tɑʎ̥] 'acting silly' According to some scholars,[5][6] it is a phoneme that contrasts with /ʎ/ (as in /tɑʎ/ 'softwood'.)[4] See Norwegian phonology
Xumi Lower[1] [Hʎ̥o] 'spirit' Alveolo-palatal; contrasts with the voiced /ʎ/.[1][2]
Upper[2] [Hʎ̥ɛ] 'flavorless'


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Chirkova & Chen (2013), pp. 365, 367–368.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Chirkova, Chen & Kocjančič Antolík (2013), pp. 382–383.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Árnason (2011:115)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Vanvik (1979), p. 37.
  5. Such as Vanvik (1979)
  6. 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 as to why it is ridiculous.