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So are "vi" and "de" pronounced like "vir" and "dom"?

March 25, 2015



I'm going to try to cover all of the discussions above in this reply.

First of all, <vi> is pronounced /viːʲ/. When i is long, there's a weak final /j/ sound (English y in 'yes') following it, that might be what you're hearing.

As for de/dem. They're both pronounced /dɔm/ in standard Sweden Swedish. In standard Finland Swedish they're pronounced /diː/ and /dɛm/ respectively. In older standard Swedish they were pronounced /diː/ and /dɔm/ (sometimes /dɛm/), and you can still find this pronunciation with older people. Pronouncing <de> as /de:/ has never been the casual pronunciation of that word (at least not in the last 500 years or so), and I've personally never once heard it used in natural speech - it's always been a markedly formal pronunciation. I've only ever heard it when (young) people read things aloud in classes, and to me it doesn't even sound formal, it just sounds like the person in question is trying to follow the spelling blindly. But I may be biased... The people who I know that pronounce <de> as anything but /dɔm/, all pronounce it /diː/ (and they're generally born in the 1920-30s).

Pronuncing <de> as /dɔm/ (or more technically, using <dem> as a subject form) has been common in Central and Northern Sweden for at least 300 years. In Standard Swedish it has been the norm for maybe 75 years? A hundred years ago virtually all of Southern Sweden still distinguished between di and dom. No traditional dialect pronounced <de> as /deː/.

The change /dɛm/ > /dɔm/ is indeed because of the /m/ (it's an instance of labialization). This shift is about 6-700 years old in Swedish (yes, really), and also happened in the word <som>, which in Icelandic, that lacks this change, is <sem>. The pronoun det might have played a part in helping shifting de to di, but more likely it was due to analogy with the other plural pronouns vi and (n)i. The traditional (as in historical) pronunciation of <det> is not /de:t/, but /dɛ:/ ().


Excellent reply! Thanks for that.


That's weird, I don't think I've ever heard anyone pronounce de /diː/, outside of what sounds like pretty odd dialects to me, but I've heard /deː/ occasionally.


When I took a couple years of public school Swedish in the Pacific Northwest back in the mid 1960s, both my teachers used /di/ and /dɛm/, a decade later when I took Swedish at UCSB and first heard the /dɔm/ business to me it sounded like saying 'them' or 'dem' for 'they' in English and it was hard for me to believe that it had emerged as the standard.

Should I try to switch to the new standard, or will my age let me get away with the old forms?



Maybe it is regional, the first pronunciation of "de" by itself sounds like "dom" to me too, but the rest of them with other words,don't. http://www.forvo.com/search-sv/de/


In your list, many of the de are not cases of the pronoun de. de facto is a latin expression, de Geer is a name and so on. In two cases, there are instances of 'reading pronunciation', the speakers who say I de blindas rike … and miljöpartiet de gröna are trying to speak clearly, and since they're reading, they're pronouncing the words as they are written, not as they (probably) normally would.

There are some regions where de is pronounced as if it were written di, but in most of Sweden (and increasingly, in Finland too), it is always pronounced dom. When reading aloud however, people can easily happen to say it as it is written.


I'm not certain of what you mean by vir, but de and dom are not pronounced the same. Dom is actually a colloquialism that can be used in place of either de or dem. It's actually so common that I've found that many people don't even know the difference between the the two of them (i.e. de dem).

Anyway, that was a bit of a tangent, but the answer, at least in regards to de/dom: no, they are not pronounced the same ^^

Edit: I just did a search and found that /dɔm/ is actually an acceptable pronunciation, and that /deː/ is considered at least somewhat formal. I would rather see that people differentiated properly between them in writing as well as speech, but there you go~~


de and dem are definitely pronounced the same in all but formal language, and very often not there, either. I don't think even one out of a thousand Swedes pronounce them differently in everyday speech. However, dom is another word which means judgment and isn't pronounced like de/dem.

I definitely agree that it would be nice if people were better at differentiating between them in writing though. :)


First, I would like to say that the mere fact everyone here shares such a bond in their zeal for language learning just sets my nerdy polyglot heart to giddy delight. Thank you for this forum; for, as a novice learner of Swedish, I was quite curious about the pronunciation of the pronoun "de." Your responses were most helpful and quite entertaining.


I can't really hear any difference in de/dem,i hear both pronounced as dɔm.Would i be mistaken if i pronounced it like /diː/ and /dɛm/ ? In the spoken exercise i had trouble differentiating those,as they both sounded the same to me.So could i pronounce it like that,or do i just have to learn in which context is each used ? Actually pronouncing it like that wouldn't help with the fact that the Swedish pronounce it both the same,but i'm still curious.


They are exactly the same in spoken Swedish. Both are /dɔm/.

You shouldn't pronounce it /diː/ and /dɛm/, it'll just sound weird and overly literal.

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