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Approximants are speech sounds that involve the articulators approaching each other but not narrowly enough nor with enough articulatory precision to create turbulent airflow. Therefore, approximants fall between fricatives, which do produce a turbulent airstream, and vowels, which produce no turbulence. This class is composed of sounds like [ɹ] (as in rest) and semivowels like [j] and [w] (as in yes and west, respectively), as well as lateral approximants like [l] (as in less).
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