The letter L can represent a few different sounds.
This sound is same as the English L.
- land, heili, gulur, lamb
This sound is a whispery L that’s pronounced without using the voice.
To pronounce you have to create turbulent airflow behind your premolar teeth (the teeth that are next to your canine teeth). To do so you can either:
- Make the tip of your tongue touch the roof of your mouth. Lift your tongue slightly so it comes close to touching your premolar teeth as well. Now blow air out of your mouth, directing it around your premolar teeth.
- Make your tongue touch your premolar teeth only on the right side of your mouth. Create a small opening between your tongue and your premolar teeth and blow air out through that opening.
This sound appears in the following situations:
- When the next letter is t:
- gult, salt, vilt
- When the next letter is p:
- In “hl” – There is no “h” in this sound, instead this letter cluster represents the breathy L sound.
- hlaupa, hlægja
- At the end of sentences. A normal L becomes a voiceless breathy L at the end of sentences.
- hjól, vil
No similar sound exists in English, but you may recognize it from the Welsh, Nahuatl, and Greenlandic languages.
A double L can represent three possible sounds.
1. Clicky double L
This is the most common sound that double L represents. It sounds vaguely similar to a click sound and is made up of two sounds:
- First you do a d sound (remember that d in Icelandic is pronounced without using the voice)
- After that you do a breathy L sound
You can see it in words such as:
- fullur, allur, fjöll, sæll
2. Breathy L
A double L can also represent a breathy L like in the word “salt”.
This sound appears when a double L is followed by a t:
- fullt, allt
3. Normal L
And lastly, a double L can represent just a normal L sound.
It appears in the following situations:
- When a double L is folllowed by an s:
- fulls, alls, fjalls
- In words that are foreign loanwords:
- halló, milljón, brilljant, kanilbollur, núll
- In words that are supposed to be cute, such as nicknames:
- Solla (short for Sólveig), Kalli (short for Karl), Villi (short for Vilhjálmur)
- sl – The letter cluster “sl” is pronounced “sdl”, same as the clicky double L in “allir”.
- slaka ([sdlaka]), rusl ([rusdl]), slys ([sdlis]), versla ([versdla])
The letter itself is known as “ell” (with a clicky double L at the end).