Pronunciation of Y

All the web sites I see give the pronunciation of Norwegian y as IPA:[y] (as French u or German ü), making a special point to remind the reader that the lips should be extended rather than compressed. However, in every Norwegian medium I have heard, y sounds exactly like [i]. In one of the Duolingo phrases, it even gets shortened to [ɪ]!

Does this vary with dialect (e.g., pronunciation closer to [i~ɪ] being more common in, say, vestnorsk or Trøndersk), or is it simply my untrained ear not hearing the difference?

July 21, 2015


That first piece of advice is spot-on. Your mouth is more closed than it is when pronouncing [i], so it does indeed sound like "ü" but with extended lips. It takes some time to get used to.

Y and I are indeed quite similar sounding, it could also be that the robotic voice does a poor job distinguishing the two sounds.

It get's really obvious once you look at someone's mouth pronouncing the two. So I wouldn't worry, you will spot the difference sooner or later.

Thinking of the Y more like the German ü should help quite a bit, as they are fairly similar sounds.

To my knowledge, the pronunciation of Y does not vary with dialect.

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