Swedish: How to pronounce "å"

  • robbie_SWE

    Senior Member
    Trilingual: Swedish, Romanian & English
    Nope, that's not how it's pronounced.

    It's something like: (IPA /oː/) and it should be like "called" if you pronounce it like an American. To make it easier, try saying "a" but form your mouth as if you were to say "o". That strange "a/o" sound should be "å".

    Hope it helps!

    :) robbie
     

    robbie_SWE

    Senior Member
    Trilingual: Swedish, Romanian & English
    Hhmm...I think you have a point there Outsider. It is pronouced like that or close to that anyway.

    Greetings,

    :) robbie
     

    Lugubert

    Senior Member
    The description is OK for the long vowel, i.e. IPA [o:] (back, rounded), distinctly lower than the IPA [u:] in English 'brew, 'glue', but ever so slightly more closed than the [o:] vowel in English 'or', 'oar', 'awe',
    and no diphthong like the
    "ou" in English "pour", "tour".
    The sound example 'mål' in the link has, to my ears, a curious slight diphthongization that is non-standard, perhaps even personal. I can't place it on the Swedish map.

    A short å is lower still (IPA "turned c", but not quite as open in Swedish 'sång' as in English 'song'), and regionally (western Sweden) there's a short å which is very open and sometimes mistaken for an /a/ even by other Swedes. Still, the standard long å is [o:].
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    I don't normally notice a diphthong in the "ou" from English "pour", "tour".

    A short å is lower still (IPA "turned c", but not quite as open in Swedish 'sång' as in English 'song'), and regionally (western Sweden) there's a short å which is very open and sometimes mistaken for an /a/ even by other Swedes. Still, the standard long å is [o:].
    Ah! I was wondering whether there wasn't a short å. The article doesn't seem to have any examples of it. (That's the English "aw", more or less, by the way, except probably shorter.)
     

    Lugubert

    Senior Member
    I don't normally notice a diphthong in the "ou" from English "pour", "tour".
    Who's normal? In English "Received pronunciation", those ou's would be plus "schwa".

    Ah! I was wondering whether there wasn't a short å. The article doesn't seem to have any examples of it. (That's the English "aw", more or less, by the way, except probably shorter.)
    Fair enough. 'Law', 'paw' etc strike my ears as being kinda between our long and short å's, but perhaps closer to the short ones because of their being more open.
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Who's normal? In English "Received pronunciation", those ou's would be plus "schwa".
    Definitely not ! It's a very clear [o].
    I checked at the Merriam-Webster online and at Dictionary.com, and none of them had a schwa in "pour". Perhaps you've confused long vowel with vowel + schwa.
     

    TarisWerewolf

    Senior Member
    Canada (English)
    Definitely not ! It's a very clear [o].
    I checked at the Merriam-Webster online and at Dictionary.com, and none of them had a schwa in "pour". Perhaps you've confused long vowel with vowel + schwa.


    Depends on whose pronounciation you take as an example. "pour" and "tour", here, are being treated as if they rhyme. To some people, they do, but to me (in my Eastern Canadian dialect of English), they don't. "pour" has a diphthong: [o]+schwa, whereas "tour" is a monophthong . To insert the monophthong instead of the vowel of "pour" would give "poor".

    Just my $0.02 worth
     

    Fred Nicholson

    New Member
    English United States
    I have seen that a lot of Swedish families who immigrated to Minnesota (where I live) rendered their name "Håkansson" as either Hawkinson (perhaps from its similarity to the English name "Hawkins") or, in some cases, Hockinson. Would the first vowel sound in the English "Hawkins" be a good approximation of the "å" sound in "Håkan"?
     

    Red Arrow

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    I have seen that a lot of Swedish families who immigrated to Minnesota (where I live) rendered their name "Håkansson" as either Hawkinson (perhaps from its similarity to the English name "Hawkins") or, in some cases, Hockinson. Would the first vowel sound in the English "Hawkins" be a good approximation of the "å" sound in "Håkan"?
    No, definitely not. This is how it sounds like.

    A long å is pronounced like how Australians pronounce the vowel in thought, but it is mostly followed by a short schwa. (= the first vowel in about) Or like how Americans say ''know'', but with a schwa instead of a W.
     

    DerFrosch

    Senior Member
    I'm afraid I don't fully agree with you, Red Arrow. It does not sound anything like the vowel "know" as pronounced in American English. I suppose it's pretty similar to how the Aussies say "thought", but it's actually even closer to Hawkins – that is, the British pronunciation of that name, not the American.

    Here you can hear how Håkan is pronounced (Google Translate's robot voices can be misleading).
     

    Red Arrow

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    I'm afraid I don't fully agree with you, Red Arrow. It does not sound anything like the vowel "know" as pronounced in American English. I suppose it's pretty similar to how the Aussies say "thought", but it's actually even closer to Hawkins – that is, the British pronunciation of that name, not the American.
    The vowel in ''know'' is actually a diphtongue: /oʊ/
    If you remove the W-sound, like I said, you get: /o/
    That is exactly how a long å is pronounced. It is very close to the British pronunciation of Hawkins. But the American pronunciation isn't even close in my opinion.

    Here you can hear how Håkan is pronounced (Google Translate's robot voices can be misleading).
    I know how Håkan is pronounced. It is spelled the way it is pronounced :)
    Red Arrow, the å of Håkan is similar to Dutch single o as in Groningen: File:000 Groningen.ogg - Wikimedia Commons
    Yes, I know that :) A long Swedish å is like a long Dutch o, but with a short schwa.
    (I am a bit puzzled about that pronunciation, as I usually would hear it without the final -n.)
    Many people think it is incorrect to leave out the final -n in Standard Dutch.
    And in some dialects it is just natural the pronounce the final -n. (it is okay as long as you don't stress the schwa)

    Similar to how some Swedes think words like ''jag'' and ''och'' should end with a consonant in proper Swedish.
     
    Last edited:

    DerFrosch

    Senior Member
    I don't doubt that you know how å is pronounced, Red Arrow. (That link was really meant for Fred Nicholson, although I realize now it came across as being directed to you.)
    I fully agree with this:
    It is very close to the British pronunciation of Hawkins. But the American pronunciation isn't even close in my opinion.
    But I simply do not hear anything remotely similar to the å sound in the American pronunciation of "know", no matter what the International Phonetic Alphabet says.
    I don't understand how the diphthong in "know" can be described as /oʊ/; it's just not the same /o/ heard in å.

    At any rate, it's not a good example.
     

    Red Arrow

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    At any rate, it's not a good example.
    Then how would you explain the long å to an American who might not know how to speak with an Australian or British accent? Of course those two sounds are different, but is there any better alternative? If an American compares mål with mole, he should be able to figure out the right pronunciation.

    This reminds me of how many people in France find it okay to rhyme ''peux'' with ''stable'', but Dutch speaking people would never agree with this. eu and e are too different for that.
    Or like the difference between an aspirated K and an unaspirated K. In my opinion both sounds don't look like each other at all, but many people disagree with me. I guess the similarities between sounds are more subjective than we often think.
     

    DerFrosch

    Senior Member
    I simply think that bringing up "know" as an example will do more harm than good. The best approximation for American English (not perfect, but still far better in my opinion) that I can come up with is the vowel in the letter combination "or". I'm thinking of words such as "gore", "more", "lord".
    This reminds me of how many people in France find it okay to rhyme ''peux'' with ''stable''
    Is that really true? Seems very strange.
     

    Red Arrow

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    The best approximation for American English (not perfect, but still far better in my opinion) that I can come up with is the vowel in the letter combination "or". I'm thinking of words such as "gore", "more", "lord".
    Agreed :)
    Is that really true? Seems very strange.
    I've searched for it online but can't find proper sources. I hear it in French songs a lot.
    According to Wikipedia, some linguists consider the schwa to be identical with eu in phrase-final stressed position. (and in many other positions with oe)
     

    Dan2

    Senior Member
    US
    English (US)
    This reminds me of how many people in France find it okay to rhyme ''peux'' with ''stable'',
    You mean the French word "stable", right? When pronounced (as sometimes in singing) with two syllables, right?
    but Dutch speaking people would never agree with this.
    Depends on the style of speech, emphasis, etc. "J'ai dit le mot DEUX!" and "J'ai dit le mot DE!" can be hard or impossible to distinguish.
    I guess the similarities between sounds are more subjective than we often think.
    Yes, we see this over and over again in discussions about phonetics. And given that...
    1. finding a sound in language B that exactly matches a given sound in language A is often an exercise in futility, and
    2. these days, "you can find whatever you want on the internet", including sound samples, this whole discussion seems somewhat pointless. (Unless of course one is specifically interested in the question of how native language affects phonetic perception.)
     

    Red Arrow

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    You mean the French word "stable", right? When pronounced (as sometimes in singing) with two syllables, right?
    Yes.
    Depends on the style of speech, emphasis, etc. "J'ai dit le mot DEUX!" and "J'ai dit le mot DE!" can be hard or impossible to distinguish.
    I honestly think all French people use both sounds, but many of them just don't realize this and suppose it is the same.
     

    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    Nope, that's not how it's pronounced.

    It's something like: (IPA /oː/) and it should be like "called" if you pronounce it like an American. To make it easier, try saying "a" but form your mouth as if you were to say "o". That strange "a/o" sound should be "å".

    Hope it helps!

    :) robbie
    Beautiful.
    It is actually the position of the lips that are like an "a" and the rest of your mouth like speaking an "o".
     

    ThereIsNoUserName

    New Member
    Swedish - Sweden (Svenska - Sverige)
    Å (å) is pronounced as "oo" in poor.

    These are both good pronunciations of Å.
    The first pronunciation by "OziX" is more natural and the way you would say it in a normal conversation. The second one by "andralang", is a bit clearer and slower, but people will look at you a bit strange if you say it like that.
    Håkan pronunciation: How to pronounce Håkan in Swedish


    <Unapproved video links removed. Cagey, moderator. >


    Here is an "Introduction to Swedish" by Handelshögskolan in Stockholm
    On this page they pronounce all the letters and other sounds in the Swedish language
    Introduction to Swedish - A guide to pronounciation


    < Unapproved audio link removed. Cagey, moderator >
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    DBlomgren

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    I came to this thread looking for a way to explain to my American cousins how to say å and I find two things that are close in my opinion:
    1. Å sounds like the o in "mole."
    2. Å sounds like the o in "or".

    From Wikipedia I discovered:
    • Short å is pronounced /ɔ/.
    • Long å is pronounced /o:/.
    So since my California cousins don't know the International Phonetic Alphabet, I'll explain that the short version (gård, håll, lång) is pronounced like the "o" in "mole" [which I pronounce /mɔl/, not /mol/ or /moʊl/ or /məʊl/], and the long version (Småland, Svartån, Åke, Åsa) is pronounced like the first part of the o in "go" but you don't pronounce the last part of "o." In other words, start the sound but don't move your mouth to finish it. Another tip: it's like a long Spanish "o".

    Very non-technical but I hope non-linguists and monolingual people (who might have learned a little Spanish) will understand.

    Have I sorted the long and short Ås correctly? The rules as I remember them are:
    • vowels followed by two consonants = short
    • vowels followed by one consonant = long
    • vowels at the end of words = short?
     

    Red Arrow

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    From Wikipedia I discovered:
    • Short å is pronounced /ɔ/.
    • Long å is pronounced /o:/.
    It's the opposite, actually. Short /ɔ/, long /o:/.

    Have I sorted the long and short Ås correctly? The rules as I remember them are:
    • vowels followed by two consonants = short
    • vowels followed by one consonant = long
    • vowels at the end of words = short?
    No. The å in "gå" is long.

    1. All unstressed vowels are short.

    2. Stressed vowels are short if followed by a consonant cluster or a double consonant. Exception: the consonant cluster ln is preceded by a long vowel.
    x is obviously preceded by a short vowel, it's a cluster.

    3. The unvoiced rs and rt are also preceded by a short vowel. Voiced rn, rd and rl are preceded by long vowels. These are five separate sounds.

    4. Be careful with the letters n and m. They are rarely doubled at the end of a word, even if they are in fact long! Just make the word longer and then you will see whether it's n or nn.

    a man = en man => short a, long n
    the man = mannen => short a, long n
    a leg = ett ben => long e, short n
    the leg = benet => long e, short n
    come! = kom! => short o, long m
    I come = jag kommer => short o, long m
    song = sång => short å, long ng

    The good thing is: in native Swedish words, the m is always long after a stressed vowel, just like ng. So the only difficult spelling is n, which can be either short or long.

    5. Be careful with grammatical endings! They usually don't change anything.

    hel => long e
    helt => long e
    vaken => long a
    vakna => long a
    kavla => long a (from "kavel")
    seger => long e
    segra => long e

    Mostly these four endings and some verb conjugation stuff.
     

    AutumnOwl

    Senior Member
    -
    Swedish
    I'll explain that the short version (gård, håll, lång)
    Of these three words only håll have a true short å, the å in gård is long (as well as the å in gå and går), while I would say that the å in lång sounds semi-long, it's not possible to draw it out as long as the å in gå(ååå)rd, but it's neither as short as in håll.

    It's not only the å-letter that's pronounced as å, also the o-letter are sometimes pronounced as å, for example håll, boll, moll, såll, troll have have the same å-sound.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top