Lambdacism : Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Last Updated: 18/08/2022

Lambdacism is a phonetic disorder, expressed in the abnormal pronunciation of [Л] and [Л']. It is manifested by distortion (interdental, nasal, bilabial, labio-dental) or the absence of these speech sounds. It occurs in the structure of dyslalia, dysarthria syndrome, rhinolalia. Defective sound pronunciation is detected during a speech examination. Speech therapy correction of lambdacism is carried out using articulatory gymnastics, logo massage, differentiated sound production techniques, special exercises for automating the evoked sound.

The soft sonor [L'] appears in the child's speech in the second or third year of life, the hard [L] - at the age of 5-6, which is associated with more complex articulation, requiring strong muscles of the tip of the tongue and its upper lift. In the absence or distorted pronunciation of the phoneme, lambdacism is diagnosed, and when it is replaced by other speech sounds, paralambdacism is diagnosed. Along with sigmatisms and rotacisms, pronunciation defects [Л-Л'] are among the most frequent sound distortions among preschool children with speech disorders (from 10% with dyslalia to 46.7% with erased dysarthria).

Causes of Lambdacism

Disadvantages of pronunciation [L-L '] are typical for children suffering from functional and mechanical dyslalia, dysarthria disorders, open rhinolalia. Organic defects of peripheral speech organs, violation of muscle innervation, functional insufficiency of sound pronunciation can lead to lambdacism:

  • Shortened hyoid ligament. It does not allow lifting the tongue up, which is necessary for the formation of the desired articulation structure. As a result, the child finds an accessible compensatory position (interdental, labio-dental, etc.), which replaces the correct articulation.
  • Macroglossia and microglossia. With the underdevelopment of the language, it becomes impossible or difficult to pronounce all linguistic phonemes, including dental ones [L-L ']. The small size of the organ makes it impossible for the tongue to approach the upper incisors. With a massive tongue, both its upper rise and the narrowing of the tip are difficult.
  • Change in muscle tone. With dysarthria, the tongue can be sluggish, paretic or tense, spastic. These factors significantly distort articulation. The tone of the circular muscle of the mouth is also disturbed, which is accompanied by difficulties in arbitrarily opening and holding the lips.
  • Palate clefts. Compensatory features in rhinolalia are the high rise of the root of the tongue, the displacement of articulation into the depths of the oral cavity, and the non-participation of the tip of the tongue in the formation of sounds. [L] is usually absent or appears to be bilabial.
  • Hearing loss. Hearing loss can be accompanied by both mixing and sound substitutions due to impaired acoustic differentiation, and distorted pronunciation due to inaccuracy, blurred articulation.
  • Other reasons. Lack of formation of correct speech kinesthesias as a result of speech deprivation, soreness of children can lead to lambdacism. Another reason is the copying of incorrect sound pronunciation, including dialect features in a bilingual environment.

Phonetic characteristics of sounds [L] and [L ']

The sound [L] is a consonant, stop-passing, oral, anterior lingual. With its articulation, the lips take on the position of a half-smile, the teeth open. The tongue is saddle-shaped, with a narrow tip resting against the base of the upper incisors. The edges of the tongue form a gap with lateral teeth through which air escapes. The vocal folds are brought together and vibrate to form the voice. This is the only phoneme in Russian that is pronounced in a narrow language.

When pronouncing [L'], the tip of the tongue is raised to the alveoli and is more tense. The anterior-middle sections of the back of the tongue are close to the palate, giving softening (palatalization).

The position of the tongue when pronouncing the sound [L]


Types of lambdacism

Hard [L] is articulatory the most complex, therefore it is violated much more often than its soft pair. In speech therapy, the following varieties of lambdacism are described:

  • Bilabial (labial-labial). The most common phonetic defect. The tongue does not participate in articulation, the sound is formed by close lips, resulting in a semblance of English [W].
  • Labio-tooth. The lower lip comes close to the upper teeth, as a result of which a sound similar to [B] is heard.
  • Interdental. The tip of the tongue is inserted between the lower and upper incisors, however, the interdental [L] does not differ by ear from the correctly articulated one.
  • Nasal. The back of the back of the tongue closes with the soft palate, while the air exits through the nasal cavity, which makes the sound resemble [N] or the combination “NG”.
  • Side. Pronunciation is accompanied by swelling of the cheeks (sometimes on one side) and additional noisy overtones. Often combined with lateral rotacism and sizzling sigmatism.
  • Softened. Instead of a hard phoneme, its semi-softened version is pronounced.

In addition to the listed types of lambdacism, the sonor [L] may be completely absent in speech. There is also a lower pronunciation variant in which the tip of the tongue does not rise up. In the latter case, the sound is not distorted, so such a violation may not be corrected. Paralambdacisms include replacements of [L] with [Y], [U], [B], [J], [P].


The task of determining the causes and type of lambdacism is implemented in the course of speech therapy diagnostics. If it is necessary to clarify the medical aspects of the pathology, consultations of a pediatric dentist, maxillofacial surgeon, neurologist, otolaryngologist are appointed. To study the speech status is carried out:

  • Inspection of peripheral speech organs. The speech therapist visually assesses the structure of the tongue, palate, lips, pays attention to muscle tone. The child is asked to perform certain exercises that allow one to judge the mobility of the speech organs, the accuracy and switchability of movements. As part of such an examination, possible causes of lambdacism are established, and a diagnostic hypothesis is put forward.
  • Analysis of phonemic hearing. Necessary for the purpose of differentiating lambdacism and paralambdacism. To test speech hearing, speech therapy techniques of repetition, naming, and display are used. Phoneme discrimination is tested in syllables and words.
  • Assessment of the phonetic aspect of speech. At this stage, the pronunciation of all sounds is checked: the type of lambdacism is determined, and accompanying sound defects are identified. Based on the results of the survey, a plan and sequence of correction is outlined.

Articulation gymnastics



Health care

The participation of medical specialists may be required for lambdacism due to dental problems, neurological pathologies (ICP), and hearing loss. So, with a shortened frenulum, in some cases, preliminary frenuloplasty is necessary, with a cleft palate - uranoplasty. Hearing loss requires an adequate fitting of a hearing aid. In case of violation of muscle innervation, speech therapy work is preceded by a complex of medical, physiotherapeutic treatment, massage.

Logopedic help

Before proceeding with the formulation of normative sound pronunciation, preparatory work is carried out to form the correct articulatory posture, the development of phonemic hearing. At the first stage of correction of lambdacism, the following speech therapy techniques are used:

  • Articulation gymnastics. Includes exercises for the development of the circular muscles of the lips ("Smile", "Tube"), the muscles of the tongue ("Needle", "Watch"), stretching the hyoid ligament ("Horse", "Fungus"), developing the upper position of the tongue ("Malyar" , "Swing", "Turkey"), etc. It is also necessary to pay attention to the correct speech exhalation (exercise "Steamboat").
  • Development of basic sounds. The reference phonemes for [L] are [T] - gives the correct position of the tongue and [Ы] - ensures the correct supply of the air stream.
  • Logopedic massage. It is indicated for insufficient mobility of the tongue, weakness of the tip and lateral edges, spasticity of the back. Usually such problems are observed with dysarthria. The most effective in this case is the probe logomassage.

Sound production starts after the completion of the preparatory stage. In various forms of lambdacism, differentiated methods and techniques are used: by imitation, based on basic sounds, with the help of staging probes.

As soon as the sound [L] is received, they move on to fixing it in syllables (direct, reverse, with a combination of consonants), words, tongue twisters, stories. The differentiation step is only necessary in cases of paralambdaicism. The duration of corrective speech therapy classes depends on the cause and mechanism of lambdacism, the presence of other phonetic defects that need to be corrected.

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