Jump to Vowels, Consonants, Certain combinations

As I said, the most difficult thing to start with, is the pronunciation. Therefore, you don't have to memorize all this at the beginning. You could just skim through it so as to get a rough idea of the basics. And then, as you expand your knowledge in Swedish, you could go back and try to make your pronunciation more Swedish. What you especially should look at is the tone and stress chapter and the phonems printed in bold.

The Swedish language has got two kinds of phonetical accents - the acute and the grave accents. The acute accent is the same as in many other languages. The tone is falling as in the English word speaker. This accent is employed in words of one syllable and in a few words of two or more syllables.

The grave accent is the one characteristic for the Swedish language, and it occurs in most words of more than one syllable. Here, the tone is falling too, on the first syllable, but the second syllable starts on a higher pitch than does the first, and a strong stress occurs. Most Swedish polysyllabic words have the main stress on the first syllable and the grave accent on one of the following syllables.

I will mark polysyllabic words employing the acute accent with an apostrophe (') behind the stressed syllable.

Words using the grave accent are marked with a star (*) on the main stress syllable, and if needed, an apostrophe behind the syllable with the higher pitch

The following curve illustrates the pitch of the grave accent with the Swedish word *tala = to speak.

Here are some a couple of endings, all of which use the acute accent, stressed on the last syllable. It's not important that you memorize these endings at the beginning. Just learn to recognize them as you come across them.

    -ang, -ant, -at, -ent, -eri, -ess, -ion, -ism, -ist, -log, -nom, -tris, -ur, -ör, -ös

Vowels: (all comparisons to English refer to the British pronunciation)

    as in father - ta = to take
    as the the o in brother - katt = cat
    no exact English counterpart, but somewhat like the u in German rufen - ko = cow
    like German u in und - hon = she
    no English counterpart, tongue position as for y but lips even more rounded - hus = house
    somewhat like English er in letter, but lips rounded - brunn = a well
    similar to English saw - båt = boat
    almost like English song - sång = song
    like the first part of the English here - se = to see
    like English net - fett = fat
    similar to English ee in see, mouth more straightened - fil = file
    almost like i in did - in = in
    similar to French rue and German müde, but lips more rounded and protruded - sy = to sew
    the same but shorter, somewhat like German müssen and French lu - sytt = sewn
    before r similar to the first part of English hair - där = there. Else less open like French chaise - träd = tree
    before r like a in English carry - stjärt = bottom. Else like [e] - lätt = easy
    before r almost like i in bird - för = for. Else similar to French deux - söt = pretty
    before r like [ö:] befor r but shorter - dörr = door. Else like [ö:] but shorter - röst = voice

Consonants (I only write those whose pronunciation differs from the same letter in English)

    d [d] as in English but put your tongue against the upper part of your teeth.
    as in great when preceeding a,o,u,å or unstressed e
    as English y in yes before e,i,y,ä,ö and after l and r
    j [j] as y in English yes
    as in English k before a,o,u and å
    Somewhat like the ch in choose without the initial t-sound, or similar to German Ich
    l [l] almost like English l, but with your tongue more to the front in your mouth
    q [k] as English k
    r [r] a roled r
    t [t] similar to English t but with your tongue against the back of your teeth
    w [v] as English v
    x [ks] never [gz] as in English example, always [ks]
    z, s [s] as English voiceless s

Certain combinations:

    ch, sk (before e,i,y,ä,ö), sj, sch
    si and ti (before -on), skj, stj, -ge and rs
    Either you could pronounce it as sh in shall, but you could also
    use another sound similar to German ch in nach but softer.
    [j] gj, lj, hj as y in English yes
    [k] tj, ch (sometimes) see k above
    [g] ng as in English sing
    [gn] gn as it says
    [gk] nk as it says
    [k] ck as ck in English sick
    [n] rn as n but with the tongue slightly further back in the mouth
    [t] rt as t but with the tongue slightly further back in the mouth

That's it, quite a lot to remember, wasn't it? But don't learn everything at once. Go back when you have finished a few lessons.

Back to the lessons, or jump to Top of document , or Go to lesson 1

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Last updated the 27th of March

Copyright Björn Engdahl 2008