I am a bit confused about this.
Question: Is this the main difference between L-vocalization and the Dark L?
- Vocalised L - The tip of the tongue DOES NOT touch the roof of the mouth.
- Dark L - The tip of the tongue DOES touch the roof of the mouth.
Linguistics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional linguists and others with an interest in linguistic research and theory. It only takes a minute to sign up.Sign up to join this community
There is an unfortunately confusing term "L-vocalization" which refers to the process where l becomes one of w, u, o, e.g. in Serbo-Croatian final l → o. Some dialects of English have this process, so that "milk" is [mɪwk]. The essential difference between one of the vocoids w, u, o and dark l is tip raising, so yes to those two questions. However, "vocalic" can also used to describe syllabic consonants (this was common in older studies of Indo-European).
The syllabic l (IPA [l̩]) is no different than the ordinary consonant [l] in place of articulation, but takes the place of a vowel in a syllable.
The dark l (IPA [ɫ]) is a velarized (or pharyngealized) form of the consonant [l], meaning that back of the tongue simultaneously articulates an [l] and is raised at the velum (or pharynx).
Each can exist independently of each other. Neither has to do with whether the tip of the tongue touches the roof of the mouth (which is the distinction between apical/laminal consonants).
In English, every syllabic l is also a dark l (and could therefore be written [ɫ̩] in IPA), e.g. "apple" [æpɫ̩]. However, a dark non-syllabic l exists at the coda (end) of a syllable, as in "pool" [pu:ɫ].
The term L-vocalisation is often far divorced from the term dark L, in that they are two totally independent processes. Vocalisation of a consonant is its change into a vowel — any vowel. Aside from the typical English vocalisation of preconsonantal dark L to [u̯], many other avenues of vocalisation exist; Serbo-Croatian vocalisation makes it into a syllabic [o̞] (as has been mentioned), and Austro-Bavarian varieties typically vocalise their L into a high front [i], rather than a back vowel.
In essence, L-vocalisation is a sound change, while dark L is a term for a specific sound