In the Russian language:

  • /ɫ/ is pharyngealized
  • /ɨ/ velarizes the preceding consonant.

In words such as лысый, /ˈɫɨsɨj/, is ɫ velarized, uvularized or pharyngealized?

I was unable to find any resources on this.

2 Answers 2


Natallia Litvin. "An Ultrasound Investigation of Secondary Velarization in Russian" (2014).

"To summarize, our study shows that Russian non-palatalized consonants [f, l, s, ʂ, x] are not pharyngealized. The Russian non-palatalized [f] and [l] exhibit secondary velarization, while [s] and [ʂ] can display either uvularization or velarization as a function of individual variation. Both secondary uvularization and velarization, however, perform a single phonological function: differentiation of non-palatalized/hard consonants and their palatalized/soft counterparts".


Here are some resources. Proctor (2009) Gestural Characterization of a Phonological Class: the Liquids talks about the question, citing three pertinent articulatory studies (Skalozub, Larisa Georgievna. 1963. Palatogrammy i rentgenogrammy soglasnykh fonem russkogo literaturnogo iazyka, vol. 3. Kiev: Izdatel’stvo Kievskogo universiteta; Bolla, Kalman. 1981. A conspectus of Russian speech sounds, vol. Bd. 32. Koln: B̈ohlau. and Kedrova et al. (2008). The latter study, however, does not study /l/ specifically, and does not assign specific phonological labels to hard and soft consonants.

The literature does contain all three claims. As far as I know, there is no definitive articulatory study which compares Russian dark l with a known pharyngealized /l/. Proctor models dark /l/ with "dorsal retraction and raising towards the velarized tongue body constriction location". I would also recommend Esling et al 2019, because numerous ideas about back-of-tract articulations are based on an inadequate model of "larynx" (they argue that the "larynx" is bigger than traditionally thought).

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    – MCCCS
    Commented Mar 23, 2021 at 16:42

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