|Voiced palatal lateral approximant|
|Voiced alveolo-palatal lateral approximant|
The voiced palatal lateral approximant is a type of consonantal sound used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ʎ⟩, a rotated lowercase letter ⟨y⟩ (not to be confused with lowercase lambda, ⟨λ⟩), and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is
Many languages that were previously thought to have a palatal lateral approximant actually have a lateral approximant that is, broadly, alveolo-palatal; that is to say, it is articulated at a place in-between the alveolar ridge and the hard palate (excluded), and it may be variously described as alveolo-palatal, lamino-postalveolar, or postalveolo-prepalatal. None of the 13 languages investigated by Recasens (2013), many of them Romance, has a 'true' palatal. That is likely the case for several other languages listed here. Some languages, like Portuguese and Catalan, have a lateral approximant that varies between alveolar and alveolo-palatal.
There is no dedicated symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents the alveolo-palatal lateral approximant. If precision is desired, it may be transcribed ⟨l̠ʲ⟩ or ⟨ʎ̟⟩; they are essentially equivalent because the contact includes both the blade and body (but not the tip) of the tongue. There is also a non-IPA letter ⟨ȴ⟩ ("l", plus the curl found in the symbols for alveolo-palatal sibilant fricatives ⟨ɕ, ʑ⟩), used especially in Sinological circles.