https://www.duolingo.com/Zmrzlina

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

34 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Anrui

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

January 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/landsend

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.

January 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/hdcanis

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)

January 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/MarkBorkBorkBork

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

Good idea about having an alphabet lesson.

January 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/TwoWholeWorms

Whilst I'm inclined to agree with you, you could still make your point validly without being quite so abrasive about it.

From my perspective, I'm learning and typing several languages via Duolingo on a number of different computers, not all of which I have administrative access to. On my home Mac and Windows PC I have installed the Swedish, Spanish, French, and German keyboard layouts, and I try to use these as much as possible, both to get used to typing the languages in their native layouts and because those layouts provide me with everything I need to type those languages without, generally, having to invoke modifier keys or combinations (or where they do, those combinations are much, much simpler to invoke than they are on the two standard British English layout variants on which I am used to typing).

However, when I'm at work I don't have access to install additional layouts. I'm aware that the words have different meanings when the diacritics—and yes, whilst they are separate, equally important letters in the Swedish alphabet, diareses and overrings are both linguistically and historically diacritic marks—are omitted, but to be quite frank typing them on a non-International-variant UK keyboard layout is a pain in the arse. On Windows, you have to use alt+132 for ä, alt+134 for å, and alt+148 for ö, and even this doesn't work on all machines. Also, in timed tests the mouse-click buttons just don't cut it. Yeah, they're great for general lessons, but when you are on a timer and it chucks "Om ni har möjlighet att komma så är ni välkomna." at you then, sorry, but it's bye-bye diaereses and hello annoying typo warning.

I would welcome a checkbox which I can tick or untick at the start of a lesson or test which instructs Duolingo to enable or disable typos until I change it again (ie, it saves the state to my profile settings, but gives me the option to enable or disable it at the start of each lesson) however I doubt this will be implemented soon as there are many, many things which DL need to fix before they start thinking about that, so in the meantime I personally would be glad that the platform exists and that people are bothering to use it at all.

April 27, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/landsend

I disagree. Learning is repetition. If you constantly repeat things that are plainly wrong then you are not doing something helpful, you are doing something harmful. Duolingo should not support such. In fact the current typo rules are much, much too lenient now. Very often I get typo "warnings" where I simply choose the wrong form (e.g. kyssar instead of kysser). That's not a typo, that's wrong.

If you don't have the possibility to type them then you can't learn them. You can't learn to swim without water. Use your phone then.

The symbols may have developed from diacritics, of course, not the letters. The symbols were chosen quite arbitrarily in most cases. But after all their history doesn't matter at all. They are separate first-class letters now, and that is what you need to learn. Or at least that is what Duolingo needs to teach and check if it promises to teach a language. You can learn whatever you want. But mojlighet is a nonsense word and needs to be treated as such.

April 27, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/TwoWholeWorms

Indeed, and every time you type "mojlighet" it tells you that it's actually "möjlighet", and it's always displayed with the correct spelling when you read the Swedish sentence to translate it into English. The correct spelling still gets reinforced, even without actually typing the diareses or overrings.

The one that doesn't get reinforced (for me, at least) is the same example you just gave. I find myself constantly mixing up -er and -ar, and it doesn't seem to be very good at reinforcing the corrected version. It would be good, perhaps, to ask you to re-enter it with the correction immediately afterwards, but again I suspect they won't implement this.

April 28, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/airelibre

I agree, it's very difficult to learn a word on here without realising it is spelt with å ä or ö, yet I get mixed up between -er and -ar all the time. However, since the pronunciation is the same, I don't believe it is too big a deal, and I'm sure natives often make spelling mistakes mixing up -er and -ar.

I have no problem with the the current system for å ä and ö, I usually try to include them where necessary, but I like how I can leave them out say if I have a bad start in a timed exercise and the clock starts ticking!

Your suggestion for -er, -ar might work but I highly doubt it becoming a reality. Anyway, I think even those differences get eventually drilled into your head when you've seen enough typo messages.

April 28, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/landsend

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.

January 23, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/feanarosurion

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.

January 23, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/scarcerer

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.

January 23, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Skoldpaddor

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.

January 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/scarcerer

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).

January 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/landsend

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.

January 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/hdcanis

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.

January 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Skoldpaddor

I am not aware of that discussion, but I was referring to this: http://gizmodo.com/382026/a-cellphones-missing-dot-kills-two-people-puts-three-more-in-jail

January 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/landsend

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).

January 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/somelauw

I hope they will make this an optional setting. Some people might not care about spelling, be dyslectic or rely on a spell checker. Other people like me are perfectionists and want to learn how to write 100% correctly with accents and all. By default I think it should be set to the most lenient option, because setting it to strict might scare off now learners.

January 23, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/yarjka

Mac users:

Åå = option + a

Ää = option + u, then a

Öö = option + u, then o

January 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/kingthatcher

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

January 26, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/yarjka

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.

January 26, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/ekufi

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

January 26, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/hdcanis

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)...

January 27, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/dfpeterson

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.

January 23, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Coreopsis2943

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

January 23, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/feanarosurion

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.

January 23, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/dfpeterson

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"

January 23, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/sntindall

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.

January 23, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/feanarosurion

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.

January 23, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/sntindall

Awesome thank you! Have a lingot!

January 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/landsend

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.

January 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/kingthatcher

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

January 26, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/MissMuse

:) 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.

January 25, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/km1

Finally I shall learn to spell!

January 25, 2015
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