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Thread: Pronouncing "L"


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    #1

    Pronouncing "L"

    Hi! I am a little confused about pronouncing the letter 'L' in English. While for example in German 'L' is always pronounced softly, in English that's not the case.
    Is there any rule, which tell us whether L should be pronounced soft or hard? I have had the following case, when I pronounce 'low' with a hard L, it sounds as if I am saying 'wow' and people don't quite understand what I mean.

    Thanks a lot (lot with a hard or soft L at all ? )
    Mitko

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    #2

    Re: Pronouncing "L"

    Im not familiar with the term hard or soft as applied to the consonant sound of the letter l. I think you might be talking about light (clear) v.s. dark l. A light l is voiced alveolar lateral approximant; a dark l is a velarized one. Whether you pronounce low [lo] with either of the allophones, I cant imagine it could turn into sounding like wow [wa]. I utter it with a light l. I believe while most Americans use dark l for all ls regardless of its position in a word, Irish and Welsh use clear 'l' in all positions.

    As a guide, use light l before a vowel (E.g. low), dark l after a vowel, before a consonant (E.g. bottle).


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    #3

    Re: Pronouncing "L"

    Thanks a lot for the help, I would try to mark me your comments!

    Greetings,
    Mitko

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    #4

    Re: Pronouncing "L"

    Quote Originally Posted by Buddhaheart View Post
    I can’t imagine it could turn into sounding like ‘wow’
    I can. This is exactly what happened in standard Polish pronunciation: what was once a velarized alveolar lateral approximant, spelled "Ł", is now pronounced /w/. (The original pronunciation is still heard in dialects in eastern Poland and Polish minorities in other countries.)


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    #5

    Re: Pronouncing "L"

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss View Post
    I can. This is exactly what happened in standard Polish pronunciation: what was once a velarized alveolar lateral approximant, spelled "Ł", is now pronounced /w/. (The original pronunciation is still heard in dialects in eastern Poland and Polish minorities in other countries.)
    I can imagine it as well. In fact, during my pronunciation classes, I've heard recording with dark [l] sounding in that way.
    By the way: I am wondering how can You know such details about my language, Rewboss?

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    #6

    Re: Pronouncing "L"

    Quote Originally Posted by seba_870701 View Post
    By the way: I am wondering how can You know such details about my language, Rewboss?
    Study.


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    #7

    Re: Pronouncing "L"

    Japanese students have a very tough time with these sounds, too. There isn't an /l/ sound in the Japanese language. Although students can learn to make the sound correctly, hearing it proves a bit more difficult.

    On pronunciation, there's quite a good series of articles at the British Council site:

    http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/think/pron.shtml

    I've also put together a minimal pairs activity for the /l/ and /r/ sounds on my website, Heads Up English. There are other activities for improved pronunciation, too.

    http://www.headsupenglish.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=category&section id=7&id=33&Itemid=82

    Have a great class!

    Chris Cotter
    Heads Up English - English materials based on current events. Just print, and teach!
    English Lesson Plans | Heads Up English | ESL EFL

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