Since this is a compound word you pronounce it as fläsk and kött but with no pause in-between them.
K in the beginning of a word may have the 'sh' sound, but there is no definite rule, and there are actually words where Swedes dispute on the pronunciation.
There are also words that are spelled exactly the same but are pronounced differently.
- kex - is in dispute
- kön - meaning gender or sex is pronounced with 'sh'
- kön - meaning the queue is pronounced more like the k in king.
- köra - meaning drive is pronounced with 'sh'
- köra - meaning sing in chorus is pronounced with a k
Gerard, from what I read English has "sh" /ʃ/ but has no /ɕ/ while Swedish has soft "k" /ɕ/ but has no /ʃ/. Some Swedish speakers place their soft k at different points along the spectrum between /ʃ/ and /ɕ/. Also, it looks like the /ʂ/ you mentioned is actually just /s/, except in certain dialects, so I don't think it's meaningfully a "distinct sound" as you feared. I don't think their is an ambiguity created by referring to all the soft k sounds as "sh" when teaching an English speaker. Native English listeners will only hear "sh" anyway.
Here's a wiki excerpt I thought of interest:
"The Swedish fricatives /ɕ/ and /ɧ/ are often considered to be the most difficult aspects of Swedish pronunciation for foreign students. The combination of occasionally similar and rather unusual sounds as well as the large variety of partly overlapping allophones of /ɧ/ often presents difficulties for non-natives in telling the two apart. The existence of a third sibilant in the form of /s/ tends to confuse matters even more, and in some cases realizations that are labiodental can also be confused with /f/. In Finland Swedish, /ɕ/ is an affricate: [t͡ɕ] or [t͡ʃ]. The Swedish phoneme /ɧ/ (the "sje-sound" or voiceless postalveolar-velar fricative) and its alleged coarticulation is a difficult and complex issue debated amongst phoneticians. Though the acoustic properties of its [ɧ] allophones are fairly similar, the realizations can vary considerably according to geography, social status, age, gender as well as social context and are notoriously difficult to describe and transcribe accurately. Most common are various [ɧ]-like sounds, with [ʂ] occurring mainly in northern Sweden and [ɕ] in Finland. ".
Lastly, the example you have of the English "zh" sound isn't true, because that sound does occur in our language and we have no problem hearing it. /ʒ/ is in equation, pleasure, vision, beige, and others.
Thank you for your answer. I don't understand your remark on the "zh" sound though. This bawn-ZHOOR I mentioned is a "pronounciation" of French bonjour I've found on some website. You can find its variations (like Bohn-zhoor) everywhere where they don't treat phonetics seriously (just google "bonjour pronounciation" if you still don't believe me, but you can find it also in many textbooks and phrasebooks, too). This is quite a popular example of what "Englishy phonetic transcription" and equating everything to English really does.
I've started the Swedish tree only recently so I don't know much about Swedish phonology. And I don't try to argue how it can be pronounced. What I criticise is explaining the sound as "you know, something like an English sh but not really not so much" or "it's an English sh" when I clearly hear that at least TTS pronounces it like /ɕ/ (the sound suggested by most sources), so it's definitely not true saying things like that. It's like you said that German r is an English or Spanish r "because you know it's quite similar, it's a good approximation ifor beginners and even some people in southern dialects pronounce it almost like that, so why learn it??". This way you often harm people you're trying to help because they become less sensitive to the sounds of the language, will have problems understanding normal speech etc.
I'm totally against such approximations (I'd somewhat understand explaining similarities but not calling it a 'sh' sound) especially if you have, like I said, two phonemic sounds with /ʂ/, that you can call 'something like a sh sound'. I have the same pair in my language and I know from my own experience how great difference it can make. Thank you for the confirmation anyway.
I am trying to understand when to use dem, and when to use de. It has been my understanding to use dem when it is the active subject, and de when it is the subject being acted upon. But in this instance, I wrote dem äter fläskkött, and it said that was incorrect.
Can anyone explain what this rule is supposed to be?