I found the extract below on a website:

The Dark L is the sound English speakers (the vast majority, anyway) make when an L follows a vowel, and it’s articulated in what we might call two ways at the same time: 1. The tongue-tip presses against the alveolar ridge – some people even slide it onto the back of their teeth. 2. Using the tip of the tongue for support, push the back of the tongue up, at the very back of the mouth, while voicing.

So according to the above extract: The order of dark-l articulation is,

  1. First, the tongue tip rises to touch the alveolar ridge.
  2. Then the back of the tongue raises. (Velarization)

I thought it was the other way around:

  1. First, the back of the tongue raises.(Velarization)
  2. Then the tip of the tongue rises to touch the alveolar ridge.

1 Answer 1


Your interpretation is more or less correct, as long as you are speaking of the initiation of those articulatory gestures and not their completion (the events are roughly simultaneous). Sproat & Fujimura's study using x-ray microbeam tech found that dorsal retraction and lowering begins earlier in dark l compared to light l. The article has a number of informative details about how dark l is actually produced.

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