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The final in some Slovenian words in the nominative can be pronounced as U or L. This can be tough to guess for someone who is learning the language, so I will give a few tips when to pronounce the final L as L or as U.

The words where we always pronounce L as U at the end:

  • masculine participles ending in -L in singular: delal [dela], šel [še], živel [žive] …
  • some masculine adjectives ending in -L: vesel [vese], bel [be], debel [debe], topel [topə], mrzel [mrzə], svetel [svetə], cel [ce], votel [votə], gnil [gni], zrel [zre], gol [go]

L pronounced as U:

  • žal [ža] – unfortunately
  • žival [živau̯] – animal, F
  • stol [stou̯] – chair
  • sol [sou̯] – salt, F  
  • fižol [fižou̯] – bean
  • piščal [piščau̯] – whistle, F
  • del (telesa, hiše …) [deu̯] – part of the body, house
  • pekel [pekəu̯] – hell
  • misel [misəu̯] – thought, F
  • zmrzal [zmrzau̯] – frost, F
  • vogal [vogau̯] – corner
  • vol [vou̯] – ox
  • orel [orəu̯] – eagle
  • osel [osəu̯] – donkey
  • plevel [pleveu̯] – weed
  • pepel [pepeu̯] – ash
  • posel [posəu̯] – business
  • smisel [smisəu̯] – meaning, sense
  • pol (picetortekilograma, litra …) [pou̯] – half a pizzacakekilogram, liter(Half of something!)

L pronounced as L:

  • šal [šal] – scarf
  • val – wave
  • predal – drawer
  • kopel – bath, F
  • pokal – cup
  • pomol – pier
  • spol – gender, sex
  • sokol – falcon
  • glagol – verb
  • glavobol – headache
  • zobobol – toothache
  • words of foreign origin: hotel, model, gel, portal, angel, kanal – canal, channel, tunel – tunnel, gol – goal (sport), alkohol – alcohol, skalpel – scalpel, kristal – crystal, simbol – symbol
  • pol (treh, petihsedmih …) – half past two, foursix… (When expressing time!)

ə = semivowel, F = feminine

bel stol [be sto] – white chair

When we change the ending of the noun in different cases we pronounce the letter L in any case.

Žival: Nimam domače živali [živali]. – I don’t have a pet.

Sol: Brez soli [soli] hrana nima okusa. – The food has no taste without salt.

Fižol: Ne maram fižola [fižola]. – I don’t like beans.

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  1. Dear Valentina,

    Is there a name of this phenomenon when Slovenes pronounce L as and U? Like a grammatical name.

    All the best, Stian

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