my native language (Georgian) is said to have velarized [ɫ] and plain [l] as the allophones of the /l/ phoneme, [ɫ] appears before back vowels /ɑ ɔ u/ and [l] appears before front vowels /i ɛ/.

I'm asking this question because in my speech at least I can't tell difference between an /l/ sound before a front vowel and an /l/ sound before a back vowel.

  • It sounds velarised to me, but quite weakly so – more than a ‘pure’ /l/ such as that found in French, Irish (slender) or Danish, but less than the dark l found in English, Irish (broad), Catalan or Russian. Aug 5 at 23:20
  • isn't Russian /ɫ/ actually pharyngealized [lˁ]? Aug 6 at 0:44
  • I’m not an expert on Russian, but Wikipedia says it’s both been described as velarised and pharyngealised. The symbol /ɫ/ covers both the velarised and pharyngealised variants. Aug 6 at 7:33

1 Answer 1


Yes, it sounds velarized, but you really need a standard of comparison. Within the language, you should compare /la/ and /le/. Since there is no contrast in Georgian, it's not surprising that you can't hear a difference. Compare plain l and the velarized diacritic on the IPA chart here – your performance in that token is closer to the velarized tokens esp. of House and Wells.

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