/r/ and /l/ in English

This page contains examples of variants of the “liquid” consonants /l/ and /r/ in English speech. Liquid consonants are articulatorily complex sounds that show a great deal of variation in different accent varieties and in different syllabic and phonological contexts. They are among the most difficult sounds to acquire as a first or second language learner.

Videos are organized by phonetic descriptive category and contain multiple utterances from different accent varieties, with examples of the liquid segment in syllable-onset and syllable-coda position. This resource was created by Dr. Eleanor Lawson as part of an Economic and Social Research Council funded project: Changes in Space, Shape and Time

Clear coda /l/

Production of alveolar /l/ with a secondary palatal gesture
English Varieties: England, Newcastle; West Indies, Trinidad; England, Southampton.
Keywords: lull; real

Clear onset /l/, dark coda /l/

Production of alveolar /l/ with a secondary palatal gesture, or without a secondary velar gesture in syllable-onset position and with a secondary velar gesture in syllable-coda position.
English Varieties: N.Z., Christchurch; Rep. Ireland, Dublin; England, Manchester; U.S.A., N. Carolina; West Indies, Trinidad.
Keywords: level; little; lull

Dark coda /l/ (& dark onset /l/)

Productions of alveolar /l/ with a secondary velar gesture in both onset and coda position.
English Varieties: N.Z., South Island (West Coast); U.S.A. Rhode Island; Canada, Ontario; England, N. Yorkshire; N. Ireland, Co. Antrim; Scotland, S. Lanarkshire; England, Sheffield; Scotland, Perthshire; Canada, Ontario; U.S.A., Maryland; N. Ireland, Co. Antrim; U.S.A., Michigan;
Keywords: feel; girl; real; level; little; lull

Vocalised /l/ and /l/ with a reduced tongue-tip gesture

Vowel-like coda /l/ variants and velarized /l/s that have a reduced tongue-tip gesture and no alveolar contact.
English Varieties: Scotland, Fife; Scotland, W. Lothian; U.S.A, San Jose; U.S.A., Georgia; Scotland, Perthshire.
Keywords: level; little; muddle

Interdental /l/

/l/ produced with the tongue blade protruding between the teeth – nondisordered productions
English Varieties: N. Ireland, C. Antrim; Canada, Ontario.
Keywords: level

Composite coda /l/

Syllable-coda /l/ - different articulatory variants
English Varieties: England, Newcastle; Scotland, Perthshire; Scotland, Fife
Keywords: feel; real