Lateral liquid /l/

The ‘l’ sound also can serve as a vowel, as in the word “bottle” It is not a nasal, such as ‘m’ and ‘n’ because the air is not flowing through your nose when you make the sound. /l/ is called a lateral sound because when you make it, the air flows along the sides of your tongue.  There are several

Listen to the /l/ sounds in each of these three words, “led” [lɛd], “bill” [bIɫ], “bottle” [bɑɾlɫ̩].

The three ‘l’ sounds are different. In the first one, you stop the air with your tongue at the ridge between the roof of your mouth and your teeth (the avelar ridge), the second you lift your tongue, and the third you sort of lower your tongue. The third ‘l’ is a vowel.

Say the sentences in the next subsection along with the audio and try to place your tongue in different places to make the three different sounds.  Remember, in each case, the air is escaping on the sides of your tongue.

Some Example Sentences with the Lateral Liquid /L/

  1. Bill led the battle [bɪɫ bɪɫ lɛd ðə bæɾɫ̩]
  2. Sell the useful lead [sɛɫ ðə jusfɫ̩ lɛd]
  3. All leaves settle slowly [ɑɫlivz sɛɾɫ̩ sloʊlɪ]