Description[from Freebase]

L (named el or ell /ˈɛl/) is the twelfth letter of the ISO basic Latin alphabet. It is used to represent 50 in Roman numerals. Lamedh may have come from a pictogram of an ox goad or cattle prod. Some have suggested a shepherd's staff. In English, L can have several values, depending on whether it occurs before or after a vowel. The alveolar lateral approximant (the sound which the IPA uses the lowercase [l] to represent) occurs before a vowel, as in lip or please, while the velarized alveolar lateral approximant (IPA [ɫ]) occurs in bell and milk. This velarization does not occur in many European languages that use L; it is also a factor making the pronunciation of L difficult for users of languages that either lack, or have different values, for L, such as Japanese or some southern dialects of Chinese. L can occur before almost any obstruent (stop, fricative, or affricate) in English. Common digraphs include LL, which has a value identical to L in English, but has the separate value voiceless alveolar lateral fricative (IPA /ɬ/) in Welsh, where it can appear in an initial position.

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