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Dictionary:About Swedish/Pronunciation

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I count life just a stuff to try the soul's strength on.
Robert Browning
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This is a guide to transcriptions of Swedish words. It's based mainly on Standard Swedish with focus on the variants spoken in and around Stockholm, which is the standard taught to foreign students and generally considered the most prestigious and neutral. All pronunciations are made by a 25-year old male speaking a reasonably colloquial form of Central Standard Swedish particular to the greater Stockholm region.

Consonants

Plosives

Phoneme (IPA) Pronunciation sample, phonemic transcription and translation
p  listenhelp, file pol, /puːl/, "pole"
b  listenhelp, file bok, /buːk/, "book"
t  listenhelp, file tok, /tuːk/, "fool"
d  listenhelp, file dop, /duːp/, "christening"
k  listenhelp, file kon, /kuːn/, "cone"
g  listenhelp, file god, /guːd/, "good"

/p, t, k/ are all aspirated and pronounced almost identical to the equivalent English sounds. /b, d, g/ are distinctly voiced, moreso than the English equivalents of most dialects.

Fricatives

Phoneme
(IPA)
Pronunciation sample, phonemic transcription and translation
f  listenhelp, file fot, /fuːt/, "foot"
v  listenhelp, file våt, /voːt/, "wet"
s  listenhelp, file sot, /suːt/, "soot"
ɧ  listenhelp, file sjok, /ɧuːk/, "chunk"
ɕ  listenhelp, file kjol, /ɕuːl/, "skirt"
j  listenhelp, file jord, /juːrd/, "soil"
h  listenhelp, file hot, /huːt/, "threat"

/ɧ/ (skjuta, fascist, garage) represents the "sje-sound", which also varies considerably, not just dialectally, but also individually and depending on where it occurs in a word. /ɕ/ represents the "tje-sound" (tjata, kisa, chips) which is much less varied, but which can alternate with /ɧ/ in some words (charter, chans, match).

/r/

Phoneme
(IPA)
Pronunciation sample, phonemic transcription and translation
r  listenhelp, file rov, /ruːv/, "prey"

The pronunciation of /r/ varies considerable in various parts of Sweden. Everything from more gutteral fricatives and trills in Southern Sweden to more forward taps and approximants in Central and Northern Sweden. Please note that rolled forward /r/ is today uncommon in colloquial speech, especially in the kind of Standard Swedish spoken in broadcast media. It is mostly reserved for articulate or formal speech.

In most dialects /s, t, d, n, l/ merge with /r/ into retroflex assimilations [ʂ, ɖ, ʈ, ɳ, ɭ]. These are transcribed /rs, rd, rt, rn, rl/.

Laterals

Phoneme
(IPA)
Pronunciation sample, phonemic transcription and translation
l  listenhelp, file lov, /luːv/, "tack"

Nasals

Phoneme
(IPA)
Pronunciation sample, phonemic transcription and translation
m  listenhelp, file mod, /muːd/, "courage"
n  listenhelp, file nod, /nuːd/, "node"
ŋ  listenhelp, file lång, /lɔŋ/, "long"

Vowels

Long vowels
Phoneme Sound file and example Comment
 listenhelp, file sil /siːl/ "sieve"
 listenhelp, file syl /syːl/ "awl"
ʉː  listenhelp, file ful /fʉːl/ "ugly"
 listenhelp, file hel /heːl/ "whole"
ɛː  listenhelp, file häl /hɛːl/ "heel" is lowered to [æː] before /r/ with most speakers  härhelp, file "here"
ɑː  listenhelp, file mat /mɑːt/ "food"
øː  listenhelp, file nöt /nøːt/ "nut" is lowered to [œ̞ː] before /r/ with most speakers  nördhelp, file "nerd"
 listenhelp, file bot /buːt/ "penance; fine"
 listenhelp, file mål /moːl/ "goal"
Short vowels
Phoneme Sound file and example Comment
ɪ  listenhelp, file sill /sɪl/ "herring"
ʏ  listenhelp, file syll /sʏl/ "sleeper (railroad)"
ɵ  listenhelp, file full /fɵl/ "full"
œ  listenhelp, file nött /nœt/ "worn" is lowered to [œ̞] or [ɵ] with most speakers  förrhelp, file "previously"
e  listenhelp, file hell /hel/ "hail (interjection)" lowered to [æ] before /r/ with most speakers  herrhelp, file "mister"
a  listenhelp, file matt /mat/ "listless; matte"
ɔ  listenhelp, file moll /mɔl/ "minor (music)" in free variation with ʊ in unstressed position
ʊ  listenhelp, file bott /bʊt/ "lived (supine)" in free variation with ɔ in unstressed position

Stress

  • Accent 1: ˈ
    ˈanden (nominative definite singular of and)
  • Accent 2: ˌ
    ˈanˌden (nominative definite singular of ande)

 Sample of Central Swedish pronunciation of the two accentshelp, file

Sample reading

The sample text is a reading of The North Wind and the Sun.

 A reading of the fable "The North Wind and the Sun".help, file

Broad transcription

nuːrdanvɪndɛn ɔ suːlɛn tvɪestadɛ ɛn goŋ ɔm vɛm ɑv dɔm sɔm vɑr starkast. jɵst do kɔm ɛn vandrarɛ vɛːgɛn fram ɪnsveːpt ɛn varm kapa. dɔm kɔm doː øvɛrɛns ɔm at dɛn sɔm fœrst kɵndɛ fo vandrarɛn at ta ɑv sɛj kapan, han skɵlɛ anseːs vɑra starkarɛ ɛn dɛn andra. doː bloːstɛ nuːrdnvɪndɛn hoːrt han nɔnsn kndɛ mɛn hoːrdarɛ han bloːstɛ dɛstʊ tɛːtarɛ sveːptɛ vandrarɛn kapan ɔm sɛj ɔ slʉːt gɑv nuːrdanvɪndɛn ɵp fœrsøːkɛt. doː lɛːt suːlɛn sɪna stroːlar ɧiːna helt varmt ɔ jènast tuːg vandrarɛn ɑv sɛj kapːan ɔ so nuːrdanvndɛn tvɵŋɛn atː eːrɕɛna at suːlɛn vɑː dɛn stàrkastɛ ɑv dɔm tvoː

Narrow transcription

nùːɖanvɪndən ɔ suːlɛn tvɪ̀stadə ɛŋ goŋ ɔm vɛm ɑv dɔm sɔm vɑr stàɹkast. ʝɵst d̥o kɔm ɛn vàndɹaɹə vɛːgən fram ɪ̀nsveːpt ɪ ɛn varm kàpa. dɔm kɔm do øvəɾəns ɔm at dɛn sɔm fœ̟ʂt kɵndə fo vàndrarən at ta ɑv sɛj kàpan, han skɵlə ànseːs vɑːra stàɾkaɾə ɛn dɛn àndɾa. doː blòːstə nùːɖnvɪndən hoːʈ han nɔ̀nsɪn kɵ̀ndə mɛn ʝʉ̟ hòːɖarə han blòːstə dɛstʊ tɛ̀ːtaɾə svèːptə vàndɹaɹən kàpan ɔm sɛʝ ɔ slʉ̟ːt gɑv nùːrdanvɪndən ɵp fœ̟ʂøːkət. do lɛːt suːlɛn sɪna stɹòːlaɹ ɧʷiːna heːlt vaɹmt ɔ ʝènast tuːg vàndrarən ɑv sɛj kapːan ɔ so nùːɖanvɪndən tvɵ̀ŋən atː èːɹɕɛna at suːlən vɑː dɛn stàɹkastə ɑv dɔm tvoː

Orthographic version

Nordanvinden och solen tvistade en gång om vem av dom som var starkast. Just då kom en vandrare vägen fram insvept i en varm kappa. Dom kom då överens om att den som först kunde få vandraren att ta av sej kappan, han skulle anses vara starkare än den andra. Då blåste nordanvinden så hårt han nånsin kunde, men ju hårdare han blåste desto tätare svepte vandraren kappan om sej, och till slut gav nordanvinden upp försöket. Då lät solen sina strålar skina helt varmt och genast tog vandraren av sej kappan och så var nordanvinden tvungen att erkänna att solen var den starkaste av dom två.