Is there any language that has a lateral consonant where air is allowed to pass by only one side of the tongue instead of both? This would be for example "l" but with the tongue moved to the left or right until it completely blocks one side. Is there an IPA symbol for this?

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    A lateral click [ǁ] as in isiXhosa is usually pronounced with one side of the tongue. Also, learners of languages like Welsh and Mongolian often tend to pronounce lateral fricatives that way, though I don't suppose any native speaker would do that. Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 17:42

2 Answers 2


"Sidedness" in laterals is not a linguistically distinctive property, so one could be right-lateral, left-lateral or bilateral, though behavior is speaker-governed. There may be a tendency for people to have the opening on the right: I don't know of any studies of sidedness of laterals correlating with handedness (I have suspicions), or even systematic articulatory studies of any kind of lateral.


The Early Arabic phoneme represented by the letter ض was a one-sided lateral, and is described as such by the father of Arabic grammar, Sībawayh. (The modern pronunciation is different).

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