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Albanian has a digraph letter "ll" which is described as being similar to English "dark l".

But how similar is it and how different? My native Australian English has dark l and to me it tends to turn into a "w" or "u" sound at the end of words and I'm not sure it's the same, maybe it varies a lot.

Then there are some more or less exotic sounds I know of but imperfectly in other languages, some which are also spelled with a version of "l" or "ll".

Polish also has a "w-ish l" that is spelled with the letter "ł". But my hunch is that this one maybe used to be a kind of "l" but is now firmly a "w".

I also speak Spanish but learned in Mexico where "ll" mostly sounds the same as "y" so that's also difficult to compare.

Welsh also has a special letter they spelled with an "ll" digraph. It's said to be unique though and the way I produce it is very raspy so it would seem the least likely to be similar. But maybe I'm not doing it right since most Welsh people I meet can't speak Welsh anyway and are probably just humouring me.

So which if any of these is Albanian "ll" most like?

  • Isn't this way too localized for this site? – Louis Rhys Sep 23 '11 at 12:25
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    @Louis, I fail to see how a question referring to so many unconnected languages and comparing so many different ways of pronouncing the ll digraph can be deemed "too localised". hippietrail, your Australian "dark l" is probably the closest to the Albanian ll. Especially considering that the Australian "dark l" also occurs within words (i.e. not just in final position), just as in Albanian or Catalan. If you meet some native speaker, you can ask him to pronounce this proverb: "Në prill, mbill" (in April, sow). I don't think the Welsh ll is velarised. Mexican Sp. /ʎ/, Argentina Sp. /ʃ/. – Alain Pannetier Sep 23 '11 at 13:30
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    Oh I thought about including something in my question saying I realized it looks like I'm asking about the digraph but I'm really asking about the sounds which coincidentally seem to often be written with the same digraph. It's probably partly related I guess. I'm always aware my questions tend to be too long as it is but maybe I leave the wrong things out (-: Oh in my experience /ʎ/ is not common in Mexico, I mostly heard /j/ but some few speakers use /ʒ/ like Argentines, which I wouldn't describe as /ʃ/. – hippietrail Sep 23 '11 at 13:39
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    @hippietrail. The variations of the pronunciation of the ll digraph in the various dialects of Spanish is probably worth a question of its own, and is actually already looming on the horizon ;-). As for now, you might want to refer to the rioplatense WP article. Y también darle una mirada a este artículo en lengua española ;-). – Alain Pannetier Sep 23 '11 at 18:58
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    FYI, Welsh "ll" is a lateral fricative, not a liquid. Pretty sure its realized as /ɬ/. – Adele C Mar 29 '12 at 19:18
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According to this Wikipedia page, it's similar to the English dark L (as "ll" in ball).

To be precise, we are talking about a velarized alveolar lateral approximant (an audio file is available); its IPA symbol is ɫ.

The Albanian word "halla" (aunt), for example, is transcribed as [ˈhaɫa].


Regarding the Polish one, it has a "w" sound, such as in mały (small) and łaska (grace) in the Consonants section, see the table called "Example words".

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    The same Wikipedia article notes that some Eastern dialects of Polish still use the sound [ł] for ł (where standard Polish uses [w]): en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… – musicallinguist Oct 18 '11 at 14:53
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That would be incorrect, as an albanian speaker surrounded by Albanian speakers, I can testify that 'll' is actually an interdental lateral consonant.

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    That's an interesting description. I've never heard of an interdental lateral before; but it's certainly possible, and flattening the blade of the tongue laterally against the dorsum does produce velarization as well. But it's not necessarily rounded, like the tendency with English postvocalic (dark) /l/ to decay to a /w/, especially word-finally. Is it rounded in your speech community? – jlawler Aug 14 '15 at 17:25
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    In Albanian it's not rounded, but I did remember it is also still velarized. Though, when Albanian pronunciation is taught to students, there's no mention of velarization, as that seems to be the most natural consequence of any interdental consonant in my opinion. – Laz Aug 15 '15 at 17:10

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