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Look at Å Ä Ö ye mighty, and rejoice!

After some time in despair, longing for those sweet dots of our wonderful Nordic language, they're now available during exercises.

We're happy that this important part of the Swedish language is finally available to you learners. Their implementation makes me want to stress their importance in Swedish spelling.

Å, Ä and Ö are, in Swedish, considered letters in their own right, taking up the final three places of the Swedish alphabet. They are not in any way variants of A or O. As a learner, please try your best to remember spelling, especially Å and Ä (which might get mixed up).

That said, I wish you all a continued joyous time learning Swedish!

Take care! /Emil

January 23, 2015



For all of those who do not believe us when we say that å, ä ö are important I would like to give an example. There are many different situations where the choice of letter will have a great impact on the meaning (and of course pronunciation) of a word, this is one such case:

Kar - Tub or vat
Kär - In love
Kår - Corps (usually military, a fire brigade or a student association)
Kor - Cows
Kör - Drive (or choir depending on how you pronounce the K)

Let's look at another example as well:

Har - Have/Has
Här - Here
Hår - Hair
Hor - Adultery
Hör - Hear


I am honestly shocked by the amount of "those are elitist fancy-shmancy artworks that in reality no one cares about"-comments around here.

If you don't want to learn a language, then don't. But if you want to then you can't cherry-pick the rules that you like and ignore the rest. Especially if it is as basic as the alphabet.

I guess Russian will have it easier as you don't have "just" a few new letters (that some mistake for letters with diacritics) but a completely new alphabet. Maybe there needs to be an extra "The Swedish Alphabet" lesson to point out the importance.


There are some rules that tend to be a bit relaxed in terms of whether natives always follow those or not bgut it can be assured that use of å, ä and ö is not one of them because indeed they change the meaning of far too many words...

(in Finnish some consonants can be a bit interchangeable especially in dialects, and for example c, q and g are basically just fancy-shmancy versions of k but do I insist that in English "quick" could be spelled as "kuik"? No, I don't)


Indeed. It seems some people want a gold star (or skill?) for halfhearted effort.

Good idea about having an alphabet lesson.


Finally. Now that it is possible for everyone to enter the letters it should be a hard error when the wrong one is used. It isn't just a wrong accent, after all.


Agree with this completely. In terms of training learners to be correct with their spelling, it's one of the easiest ways to get people used to the letters with accents. I hope it takes effect with Swedish, and in similar future languages such as Finnish. The thing to remember is definitely that they are separate letters as opposed to simple diacritics, and they affect meaning regularly and significantly.


As has been discussed before, that's unlikely to happen. We already have an example of that (the Spanish ñ) and we will see it again when Turkish comes out (for example I vs i). These are not just accents, ñ comes after n in dictionaries and i comes after I but Duo (or the teams) still treat them as equals. You might also want to check Selcen's reasoning here.


Thanks for the link. I still disagree. But then I am just a customer using a free product.

In my view learning something wrong is worse than not learning something. Gamification, motivation, fun are all important and relevant but at the core it is about learning things that we can't change here, rules of languages. Getting a fuzzy warm feeling of affirmation is always nice for everyone. But getting it unjustified is misleading, at its best. In a "normal" game you at least know that you just spent time; here people think they learned something when in reality they just learned nuggets (without the ability to recognize which are good nuggets).


Have you heard the story of the guy who got killed over the Turkish I vs i? I think that should be a hard error right there.


Are you referring to the wife discussed in the Turkish AMA? Some people are idiots, some have a short temper. I'm sure people have been killed over wrong letters that don't resemble each other.

I wouldn't mind requiring correct letters but typing with those small buttons would be a pain in timed practice. For example, consider this Finnish sentence: Töölön sairaalan lääkäri söi jäätelöä hääyönään (a doctor from Töölö hospital ate ice cream on his/her wedding night).


If you really want to learn a language then you find the ways: Either buy a keyboard (they are available everywhere via internet and they are not expensive) or at the spot by switching the keyboard layout. And all those people using tablets (or phones) have it much easier without hassle, they normally can enter the letters directly without configuration.

Is Toolon sairaalan laakari soi jaateloa haayonaan a correct Finnish sentence meaning A doctor from Töölö hospital ate ice cream on his/her wedding night? If I pronounce it this way will I be understood?

Learning a dumbed down version is worse than not learning at all.


Pronouncing "haayonaan" would take some effort since it goes against vowel harmony and that exists for a reason (Finnish y is pronounced like German ü, and in the same word only other front vowels ä, ö, e or i can be used).

Of the example words, only "soi" changes meaning, it means "rings" when "söi" means "ate": longer words are safer, in written text they are often recognizable and suggest the writer is somewhere without a proper keyboard, or uses a program that doesn't function with scands (nobody would write like that on purpose).

Spoken these would probably be understandable but expect to get puzzled looks and be asked to repeat what you said.


Mac users:

Åå = option + a

Ää = option + u, then a

Öö = option + u, then o


Or you could just use the swedish keyboard layout by going to sys preferences -> language(or keyboard or whatever y'all have on mac -- I forget) -> add layout -> swedish


Right, but then you have to toggle back and forth between Swedish and English. I prefer not to bother with that. To each his own, of course.


On mac, it's easy to switch keyboard settings just by setting up a hotkey for it. That's how I roll with Japanese.


I vaguely recall a poem by IIRC Claes Andersson about someone having stolen åäö from his typewriter and how he is then no longer able to write about love (kärlek), friendship (vänskap) or justice (rättvis)...


:) It might be a little hard at first since you let A, for example, stand for the two special letters that look like A. But I'm glad this happened as it makes the learning process more true to the actual language.


I'm starting to realize how coddled I was being allowed to type ar instead of är even though I have had alt-0228, 0229 and 0246 memorized for a while. Maybe it's time to turn on the intl keyboard.


It is very very easy to turn on international keyboards, and then you just learn where those keys are.


I suggest the proper Swedish keyboard. It gives ä, ö, and å their own letters next to 'l' and 'p'. I use it (the Finnish keyboard actually but they're effectively identical) 95% of the time and it's easy to get used to, especially just for Swedish lessons.


The hardest part is now figuring out where the punctuation and other non-alphanumeric keys are without switching back and forth to type "isn't"

[deactivated user]

    Is this something I can install or is there a Chrome extension or something like that? I'm finding it very annoying to click on each letter, instead of typing it out.


    In most operating systems you should be able to go to either keyboard settings and find settings for layouts or international settings and set it there. In Windows 7 you get to it through Control Panel > Region and Language > Keyboards and Languages > Change Layout. Then you can switch back and forth between keyboards from the new icon that'll show up on the lower right. Should be a two-letter abbreviation of the language of the current keyboard.

    [deactivated user]

      Awesome thank you! Have a lingot!


      Just switch to the swedish keyboard layout. I do it for any language I speak, since it makes more sense.


      Yes, use the US International keyboard (if US layout is your base layout). You have all the extra letters available via RightAlt combinations and no disadvantages; all the rest stays the same, e.g. punctuation.

      • 34

      Finally I shall learn to spell!

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