Swedish: How do Swedish people read abbreviations?

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by temblor, Jun 24, 2018.

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  1. temblor Senior Member

    Chinese Goetlands
    WU CHINESE
    My institute is going to work with the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences(IVA), so I want to learn some basic Swedish.
    One question is, how do they read abbreviations? For instance, "IVA". Do they just say in English "EYE-VEE-AY", or they read it as Swedish alphabets "EE-VAY-AH", or they spell it in Swedish "EE-VAH"?
     
  2. Segorian Senior Member

    Icelandic & Swedish

    If only uppercase letters are used, this generally signifies that the abbreviation should be read letter-by-letter. Therefore, IVA would be read approximately ‘ee-veh-ah’ (Swedish, not English, pronunciation). By contrast, acronyms (in the sense of “abbreviation pronounced as a word”) are usually spelled with only the first letter in uppercase (example: Ikea).
     
  3. MattiasNYC Senior Member

    New York
    Swedish
    If I may add - and I hope Segorian can correct me if it's wrong: I think the pronunciation of the abbreviation might be sensitive to popular usage. If a certain group or demographic or region is prone to use English words in English when speaking to each other in Swedish I'm guessing that it also applies to abbreviations. For example, I've heard some of my friends and family refer to an "IPA" (Indian Pale Ale (beer)) as both an 'ee-peh-ah' or 'ee-pah' (both Swedish with the second being first letter + second two letters), and on the other hand the normal English pronunciation of the letters.

    (apparently I'm terrible at writing how letters sound... apologies)
     
  4. Parlons Suédois Member

    Swedish
    With three-letter abbreviations there seems to be a lot of variation. Some are always pronounced one way or the other, where as others may vary. For me, IVA would be a toss-up between "ee-veh-ah" (i.e, reading the letters out in Swedish) or as word, "ee-vah". Same for Inspektionen för vård och omsorg, IVO. The national council for crime prevention, Brottsförbyggande rådet, BRÅ, is always pronounced "braw", never "beh-err-aw". The defence research institute *used* to be called FOA, always pronounced "foo-ah" (saying "eff-oo-aah" would probably have led to puzzled looks and people not understanding), but then changed their name to FOI and pronunciation now varies between "eff-ooh-ee" and "foo-ee" (but never "foy"!). PRO is always pronounced "peh-err-oo", never "pro". SAF was always pronounced "saff", never "ess-ah-eff" (but then they changed their name to "Svenskt Näringsliv"). The airline SAS us usually "suss", but you occasionally hear "ess-ah-ess". The beer type is always "ee-pah" for me, never "ee-peh-ah" but hearing that would not surprise me.

    Obviously, combinations which are hard or impossible to pronounce as words get read letter by letter.

    If I had to form a hypothesis, I'd say that the older and more established an abbreviation is, the higher the probability that it is pronounced as a word.

    (You can probably find counterexamples to all my "always"es and "never"s; apply a grain of salt where appropriate...)
     
  5. Segorian Senior Member

    Icelandic & Swedish
    I agree with everything that MattiasNYC and Parlons Suédois have written above. I simplified excessively in my answer and left out way too much information.

    I think we have to say that there is a very strong tendency to pronounce abbreviations as words whenever reasonable. That is how we get ‘braw’ for BRÅ, ‘suss’ for SAS, and ‘ee-kah’ for ICA, etc. (keeping in mind that all of these are very approximate pronunciations). The upshot of this is, first, that there are several exceptions from the rule I gave for acronyms, expecially when the abbreviation only contains three letters (although ICA is often written Ica, and BRÅ as Brå, for example) and, second, that to know how to pronounce the abbreviation of a particular organisation’s name, it is probably wise to ask someone at that very organisation. As Parlons Suédois points out, IVA is definitely one of those abbreviations that can be proncounced either way.
     
  6. MattiasNYC Senior Member

    New York
    Swedish
    Agreed.
     
  7. temblor Senior Member

    Chinese Goetlands
    WU CHINESE
    Thanks for all explanations.
     

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