Mistake #5: Heavy ‘L’s
When an “L” appears before a vowel sound, it is pronounced as a clear-sounding ‘light L’ in English, written as [l]. However, Russians then to pronounce it with a heavier sounding L (“л” as in “ладно”), similar to a ‘dark L’ or ‘hard L’ in English. This makes the speaker sound heavily accented.
To make the ‘light L’, the tip or blade of the tongue should be placed against the alveolar ridge just behind the upper teeth. Then breathe out, causing air to flow around the sides of the tongue and out of mouth, vibrating the vocal cords. ‘Light L’ sounds are used before a vowel, such as in “life” and “leaf”. In phonetic notation, it is written as [l].
Examples: large, learn, black, blog, learn, long, lay, like, low, flag.
The heavier sounding ‘dark L’ is almost the same as a ‘light L’ but with an additional secondary sound which is made at the same time. The secondary sound is made by having the back of the tongue high and close to the soft palate, or having the root of the tongue close to the back of the throat. ‘Dark L’ sounds are usually used after a vowel, such as in “sell” and “bull”. In phonetic notation, it is sometimes written differently as [ɫ].
Examples: full, milk, pool, kill, build, elbow, hold, billiard, help, circle.