As far as I can find the descriptions it appears that they're the same. Why would 2 different IPA characters used then?


2 Answers 2


/ʎ/ has the contact with the hard palate, /l̠ʲ/ has the contact with the alveolar ridge (albeit towards the back of the alveolar ridge, and with the body of the tongue raised towards the hard palate)

  • oh then my (Portuguese) /ʎ/ is a [l̠ʲ], never knew that. Commented Aug 4, 2021 at 7:14

Also note that even if they were the exact same thing, ʎ is a single symbol while l̠ʲ is a symbol with two diacritics; if a phoneme is common or high-profile enough, it will often get its own simplex symbol, even if it could already be represented by some combination of diacritics before.

By way of extreme example, remember that the IPA has diacritics for indicating voice (◌̬) and voicelessness (◌̥); there's no real reason /t/ couldn't be rendered as /d̥/, or /d/ as /t̬/.
/t/ resp. /d/ are obviously important enough that they get their own symbol nonetheless, and the redundancy doesn't bother anyone.

  • 7
    Danish plosives, all of which are unvoiced, are in fact often rendered [b̥ d̥ ɡ̊] (= b d g) and [b̥ʰ d̥ˢʰ ɡ̊ʰ] (= p t k) when transcribing phonetically, to emphasise that they are all lenis rather than fortis. Commented Aug 3, 2021 at 19:17
  • Additionally, the wedge is for stiff voice, and the ring used for slack voice.
    – T1nts
    Commented Aug 9, 2021 at 23:06

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