Mannen versus männen –or– A versus Ä
I wanted to open this discussion on the Plural part 3 test where it asks me to type what I hear. Since it's a test on plurals I guessed correctly that it wanted männen. For whatever reason the "Discuss sentence" button is not working, so I have to ask here: what is the difference in pronunciation between mannen and männen. Which, I guess, comes down to asking the difference between A and Ä.
To the best my ears can distinguish, it's the difference between an "ah" sound and an "eh" sound, yes? But I only have a robot voice to tell me, so I'm kind of wondering if there's somewhere we can go to hear real people say the words?
<ä> is pronounced as the "e" in English <get>, only before an /r/ is it pronounced like "a" in <apple>. Remember that <e> and <ä> are pronounced identically when short.
If you speak American English, I suppose the closest equivalent to Swedish short /a/ would be the "u" in "but" or the "o" in "come". If you speak French, Spanish or German, it's the same as their <a>.