Ł or ł, described in English language as L with stroke, is a letter of the West Slavic (Polish alphabet, Kashubian, and Sorbian alphabet), Łacinka (Latin Belarusian), Łatynka (Latin Ukrainian), Wymysorys, Navajo language, Dene Suline, Inupiaq language, Zuni language, Hupa language, and Dogrib language , several proposed for the Venetian language, and the ISO 11940 romanization of the Thai alphabet. In Slavic languages, it represents the continuation of Proto-Slavic non-palatal l (dark L), except in Polish language where it evolved further into /w/. In most non-European languages, it represents a voiceless alveolar lateral fricative or similar sound.
In 1440, proposed a letter resembling to represent clear L. For dark L he suggested with a stroke running in the opposite direction as the modern version. The latter was introduced in 1514–1515 by Stanisław Zaborowski in his Orthographia seu modus recte scribendi et legendi Polonicum idioma quam utilissimus. L with stroke originally represented a velarized alveolar lateral approximant , a pronunciation that is preserved in the eastern part of Poland and among the Polish minority in Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine. This pronunciation is similar to Russian language unpalatalised in native words and grammar forms.
In modern Polish, is normally pronounced (exactly as w in English as a consonant, as in will). This pronunciation first appeared among Polish lower classes in the 16th century. It was considered an uncultured accent by the upper classes (who pronounced as ) until the mid-20th century when this distinction gradually began to fade.
The shift from to in Polish has affected all instances of dark L, even word-initially or intervocalically, e.g. ładny ("pretty, nice") is pronounced , słowo ("word") is , and ciało ("body") is . Ł often alternates with clear L, such as the plural forms of and verbs in the past tense that are associated with masculine personal nouns, e.g. mały → mali ( → ). Alternation is also common in declension of nouns, e.g. from nominative case to locative case, tło → na tle ( → ).
Polish final Ł also often corresponds to Ukrainian word-final (Cyrillic) and Belarusian (Cyrillic). Thus, "he gave" is "dał" in Polish, "дав" in Ukrainian, "даў" in Belarusian (all pronounced ), but "дал" in Russian. The old pronunciation of Ł is still fully understandable but is considered theatrical in most regions.
Some examples of words with 'ł':
In contexts where is not available as a glyph, basic L is used instead. Thus, the surname Małecki would be spelled Malecki in a foreign country. Similarly, the stroke is sometimes omitted on the internet, as may happen with all diacritic-enhanced letters. Leaving out the diacritic does not impede communication for native speakers, but it may be confusing for those learning Polish.
In 1980-s, with western computers available in Poland which at that times lacked Polish diacritics, it was a common practice to use a pound sterling sign (£) for Ł. This practice vanished as soon as DOS-based or Mac computers came with a proper codepage.
In Navajo language, is used for a voiceless alveolar lateral fricative //, like the Welsh .
is used in orthographic transcription of [[Ahtna|Ahtna language]], an Athabaskan language spoken in Alaska; it represents a [[breathy|Breathy voice]] lateral fricative. It is also used in Tanacross, a related Athabaskan language.
In Venetian is used as substitution for in many words in which the pronunciation of L has become different for several varieties of the language, such as becoming mute, or becoming the sound of the shorter vowel corresponding to or . For example: "la gondoła" can be pronounced as (in Venetian dialects) "la góndola", or "la góndoa", or "la góndoea" with such shorter /ɛ̆/.
When writing IPA for some Scandinavian dialects where the pronunciation of a retroflex flap /ɽ/ exists, for example in Eastern Norwegian dialects, authors may employ .
| LATIN SMALL LETTER|
L WITH STROKE