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What happens to 'l' in between words?

For example in "Neal Evans, is the extra /l/ sound extended to "Evans"? So that "Neal Evans" becomes /niːl levəns/ in British pronunciation?

In the case of "will have", it seems that the /h/ sound would be replaced by the /l/ sound in British English: /wɪl ləv/.

Could this be the same case as the connected or extended /n/ in "an apple"? So, instead of saying /ən 'æpəl/, it would be /ən næpəl/?

What is the technical term for this extended /l/ sound?

And are there any other cases? For example, would you extend the /l/ for "pull over", "peel off" or "fill in"?

If so, what is the pattern? (knowing the pattern could be important to language learners)

Does it apply to all the phrases with a similar consonant and vowel allocation?

I understand that when the dark l sound is followed (without pause) by a vowel as the first sound of the next word, it becomes a clear l. Could this rule be applied to every case?

For example in:

"civil engineering",

"chill out",

"chill overnight",

"cool air",

"intellectual elite",

"legal advice",

"legal aid",

"legal entity",

"tell us",

"tell everyone"

In British English, would you pronounce

"intellectual elite" as

/ˌɪntəlˈektʃu.ɔ:liˈliːt/ or /ˌɪntəlˈektʃu.ə.liˈliːt/?

Then,

Would you pronounce "legal advice" as

/ˈliːgə.lədˈvaɪs/

or

/ˈliːgɔ:.lədˈvaɪs/

instead of /ˈliːgəl ədˈvaɪs/

when all the cases are pronounced in connected speech?

The "." within the IPA symbols was used to indicate that the clear l sound may be a little bit closer to the second word.

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – tchrist
    Jun 2, 2022 at 1:00

1 Answer 1

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In most English accents, there are two l-sounds: clear and dark. The dark l is used before a consonant (e.g. "milk", "pull down") or before a pause (e.g. just "pull"). The clear l is used before a vowel (e.g. "lemon", "clever"). What you noticed is the clear l being used when it's a word's last sound, and the next word follows with no pause and starts with a vowel (as in your examples "pull over" etc.).

It's not that the l sound is extended. You'd get an extended l sound in e.g. "pull levers". Rather, the l sound is spoken in the following word's first syllable.

It's one of the ways that in which a word's pronunciation can be different depending on the context, in particular, whether it's spoken in connected speech or in isolation.

(There is variation in this phenomenon among several English accents. I haven't given the whole picture, just enough to answer the OP's question.)

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    Thank you for your answer, you have helped me to understand the misheard dark l sound. Also thanks for explaining why the /l/ is not extended and that it shifted to the start of the second word as a clear l sound. I am, however, very curious about the pattern of the shifted /l/. You mentioned that this can occur before a vowel when the next word follows without a pause. Does it apply to most similar cases? For example, "civil engineering", "chill out", "chill overnight", "cool air", "intellectual elite", "legal advice", "legal aid", "legal entity", "tell us", "tell everyone" ...... Jun 2, 2022 at 10:00
  • Will there be a set of rules? Or have the rules been affected by the influence of borrowed words? Jun 2, 2022 at 10:04
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    @AnonymooseUser Yes it does apply to the cases you mention. Those are good examples. I don't see any way that the rules have been affected by borrowed words. It's an artefact of English phonology.
    – Rosie F
    Jun 2, 2022 at 10:12
  • Wow, thank you that is mind-blowing for me. So, would you pronounce the "intellectual elite" as /ˌɪntəlˈektʃu.əl liˈliːt/ or /ˌɪntəlˈektʃu.ɔ: liˈliːt/ instead of /ˌɪntəlˈektʃu.əl iˈliːt/? Then, for "legal advice" would be /ˈliːgəl lədˈvaɪs/ or /ˈliːgɔ: lədˈvaɪs/ instead of /ˈliːgəl ədˈvaɪs/, when two of these cases are pronounced in the connected speech? What about "cool air", would you drop the /l/ sound or shift it to the start of "air"? Jun 2, 2022 at 10:37
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    @AnonymooseUser You are misunderstanding how English phonology works. There is no gemination of a final consonant to the next word when it begins with a vowel. There is simply connected speech without glottal stops.
    – tchrist
    Jun 2, 2022 at 14:47

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