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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?

November 22, 2014



Fun fact, I had to tell Google that mannen meant "the man" and männen meant "the men". It translated them as "art" and just plain "men" respectively.


The Swedish "ä" is pronounced like "a" in the English word "apple", while "a" is pronounced like "a" in the English word "father."

"Mannen" is pronounced like "mah-nen", and "männen" is pronounced like "Mann-nen."


<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>.


You could try looking at forvo.com... it's a good place to go and hear a variety of voices saying individual words.


There are recordings in the Wikipedia article on Swedish phonology: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swedish_phonology

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