IPA phoneme /l/

From Teflpedia

l

look /lʊk/

In English, both in Received Pronunciation and in General American, the IPA phonetic symbol /l/ (lower case L) corresponds to the initial consonant sound in words like "look" and "last" and the final one in "school" and "girl".

When /l/ occurs at the end of a syllable or before a consonant, the tongue usually comes towards the back of the mouth (IPA [ɫ]).[1] Some speech pronunciation coaches call it a "dark L".

In Estuary English /l/ in final position is a vowel. For example milk is pronounced [mɪok] and middle is [ˈmɪdo].

Common words

Initial pronunciation of /l/:

  • large - last - late - leave - let - life - like - little - live - long - look - lot - love

Medial pronunciation of /l/:

  • As "l": also - child - clear - help - include - old - only - place - problem - world
  • As "ll": actually - allow - challenge - college - dollar - follow - really - village

Final pronunciation of /l/:

  • As "l": control - deal - feel - level - school - several - social - total - travel - until
  • As "ll": all - call - cell - fall - full - kill - sell - skill - small - still - tell - wall - well - will
  • With magic e: file - mile - module - role - rule - sale - smile - style - while - whole
  • With silent e: able - available - couple - example - little - people - possible - table

Anticipated pronunciation difficulties depending on L1

Preconceived ideas and other interferences from L1 obviously interfere in many cases with how students perceive - and pronounce - sounds/words in English. The following section aims to point out some of the most typical difficulties teachers and students may encounter regarding pronunciation.

Chinese

Chinese speakers have difficulty with the dark l sound in general. As for the light l, Southern Chinese often mispronounce /l/ as a nasal /n/ sound but most Northern Chinese have no issues with the light l.

Japanese

Japanese speakers often confuse /l/ and /r/.

See also

References

  1. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Velarization.