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Svenska Alfabetet

I just started learning Swedish, literally an hour ago, so that is most likely the reason why I'm having trouble hearing the difference between some vowels in the alphabet. For example, "e" and "i" sound really similar, as well as "u" and "o". Is there any way I can help this, any tips that people used when they were learning the alphabet? Or perhaps I'll just get it over time? Thanks.

May 20, 2017



I'd suggest getting familiar with basic phonetics of the language. Swedish has one of the more complex phonetic systems and it's very easy to get lost in it, so a systematised introduction is a great thing (although one should do it before starting any language actually). This introduction is exceptionally good. Especially try the videos 2, 3, 4, 5, and if you don't feel strong with specific topics, watch the rest. And as for any language, classic Wikipedia's IPA for... (as a summary/review, even if you hadn't known the International Phonetic Alphabet, you should be introduced to its symbols for Swedish in the videos) and phonology. The phonology for Swedish is one of the best so I highly recommend reading it. It's pretty technical so if you see symbols or words you don't know in a paragraph, you can easily skip it. It has a lot of audio samples. Unless you feel really confident with the IPA, you can skip all the technical paragraphs and only look at the tables with audio next to the IPA symbols.


Thank you so much, this is very informative.


As a native speaker I can understand that there could be confusion between o and å, as well as e and ä. Among Swedish speakers we learn it by heart. My advice is to keep practicing until you have learned it. If you started today then you are certainly excused to make these kind of mistakes.


I am doing the Norwegian course and have a similar problem. You do get used to it eventualy but it nearly made me give up the course. Even worse is the fact that several letters are not pronounced at all when at the end of a word e.g. G and T. Plus I am still trying to understand how to differentiate between S, SK and SKJ or the various combinations of them.


In all the information about Swedish vowels, including keyboards, you don't see a discussion of é - e with an acute accent above. However you do see this in Swedish for example Saga Norén is the main Swedish character in the Swedish/Danish TV series The Bridge. Can somebody explain?


In order to get "é" with a Swedish keyboard, press the key to the left of [backspace ←] and then add the "e".


Thanks. I know how to type this on my Mac keyboard - hold down the e and choose from the popup - but I'm really asking, why is this letter absent from lists of Swedish vowels? For example, are the words that use it all borrowed from another language?


"É" is a "e" with a diacritical mark, not a letter of the alphabet by itself (unlike å, ä, ö, which are the last three letters of the Swedish alphabet). In Italian all the vowels can be accented in some cases (à, è, é, ì, ò, ù), but there are only five vowels (a, e, i, o, u). Swedish has nine vowels: a, e, i, o, u, y, å, ä, ö. In Swedish "é" is mostly used in French loanwords and in names.


I was using tinycards to remember some of the verbs, and there the verb "to stand" was written as "att stá". Is it normal to write it with "á" or should it be written as "att stå"? From what I understand, swedish "å" evolved from old norse "á" (or aa), but I'm not sure if there is any relation here.


It's actually more complicated that that. Each of the nine vowels in Swedish has a short and a long version (which are not only differentiated by length) . So to master Swedish you'd have to learn 18 different vowel sounds. My wife has been fluent in Swedish in many years, but she still has problems with some of the vowel sounds.


You'll get over it. I just popped into the Swedish corner to check if the course is "any good" (and noticed that the Duolingo computer voice has a funny pronounciation sometimes).

If you say "fet fisk" or "fettfri fil" you hear that there is a distinct difference between the long/short e and the long/short i. The same goes for u and o, if you say "gul ost", or "mjuk ostkaka" respectively "gullig ko" or "buss till zoo" you'll similarly hear a noticeable difference between long/short u and long/short o.

A much more interesting feature is to separate the two words "stegen" = "the ladder" and "stegen" = "the steps". The first is pronounced 'steh-genn' with equal emphasis on both syllables, the latter 'steee-gn" with the emphasis on the first syllable, swallowing the second.

Here are two videos you can listen to when you're learned a bit more, and see that there is not one way to pronounce the language (which makes it more difficult): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLAPABL4fLM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9FWQ8uZvqw


probably get used to it after a while like me

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