Swedish pitch accent

lukis421

Senior Member
Polish - Poland
Hello!

I've just started learning Swedish and I've been having some problems figuring out which pitch accent a word has. I've tried wiktionary but they don't seem to differentiate between the two pitch accents in their IPA transcriptions. I've also noticed that apparently words, when declined, can change pitch accent. For example 'pojke' is supposed to be pronounced with the grave accent, whereas its declined form 'pojken' seems to have the grave accent on it.

Another problem with the pitch accent marking is that as far as I know it always concerns two syllables, but somehow it also exists in words that consist of more than two syllables. How do I know how to pronounce them given that the IPA pitch accent marking seems to be written always at the beginning of the transcription?

My question is: do you know any resources that would help me systematically and reliably check the full pronunciation of Swedish words, including their declined and conjugated forms? I'd be very thankful for you help.
 
  • Svenke

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    Svensk ordbok (SO) provides the pronunciation of all words in the citation forms, but unfortunately not the inflected forms: svenska.se – Akademiens ordböcker
    The inflected forms receive their toneme (pitch accent) in a quite regular manner, but I'll leave it to the Swedes to account for the rules.

    About tonemes and syllable number:
    The toneme contour begins on the syllable with primary stress.
    The opposition between tonemes can only be realized if there is at least one unstressed syllable after the primary stress. If the word has only one syllable, or the primary stress is on the last syllable of a longer word, the tone is like toneme 1 (acute).
    If there is at least one unstressed syllable after the primary stress, there is a possible opposition between tonemes (acute vs. grave). When there are more than one unstressed syllable, the toneme contour is "stretched". Listen to "tekniker" (acute) and "resande" (grave) in Svensk ordbok.

    If the primary stress and toneme is not on the first syllable, this should be marked in good transcriptions. You'll see that for instance "betala" (acute on second syllable) and "veranda" (grave on second syllable) have toneme marking on the second syllables in Svensk ordbok.
     

    lukis421

    Senior Member
    Polish - Poland
    Svensk ordbok (SO) provides the pronunciation of all words in the citation forms, but unfortunately not the inflected forms: svenska.se – Akademiens ordböcker
    The inflected forms receive their toneme (pitch accent) in a quite regular manner, but I'll leave it to the Swedes to account for the rules.

    About tonemes and syllable number:
    The toneme contour begins on the syllable with primary stress.
    The opposition between tonemes can only be realized if there is at least one unstressed syllable after the primary stress. If the word has only one syllable, or the primary stress is on the last syllable of a longer word, the tone is like toneme 1 (acute).
    If there is at least one unstressed syllable after the primary stress, there is a possible opposition between tonemes (acute vs. grave). When there are more than one unstressed syllable, the toneme contour is "stretched". Listen to "tekniker" (acute) and "resande" (grave) in Svensk ordbok.

    If the primary stress and toneme is not on the first syllable, this should be marked in good transcriptions. You'll see that for instance "betala" (acute on second syllable) and "veranda" (grave on second syllable) have toneme marking on the second syllables in Svensk ordbok.
    Thank you kindly, your explanation is very clear and makes a lot of sense to me. Very helpful!
     

    Silverc

    New Member
    Italian - Italy
    Svensk ordbok (SO) provides the pronunciation of all words in the citation forms, but unfortunately not the inflected forms: svenska.se – Akademiens ordböcker
    The inflected forms receive their toneme (pitch accent) in a quite regular manner, but I'll leave it to the Swedes to account for the rules.

    About tonemes and syllable number:
    The toneme contour begins on the syllable with primary stress.
    The opposition between tonemes can only be realized if there is at least one unstressed syllable after the primary stress. If the word has only one syllable, or the primary stress is on the last syllable of a longer word, the tone is like toneme 1 (acute).
    If there is at least one unstressed syllable after the primary stress, there is a possible opposition between tonemes (acute vs. grave). When there are more than one unstressed syllable, the toneme contour is "stretched". Listen to "tekniker" (acute) and "resande" (grave) in Svensk ordbok.

    If the primary stress and toneme is not on the first syllable, this should be marked in good transcriptions. You'll see that for instance "betala" (acute on second syllable) and "veranda" (grave on second syllable) have toneme marking on the second syllables in Svensk ordbok.
    Svenke, I know a bit of Swedish, and am interested in all Nordic Germanic languages. What are the similarities and differences between Norwegian and Swedish tones? I am aware that there are a lot of regional differences in both Sweden and Norway (and across the borders!), but I'd like to get only a general idea, referring to the (more or less) standard "riksspråken" in the 2 countries. To me, they sound similar, I am Italian, and I assure you that the intonations between the various regions of Italy, even when speaking more or less standard Italian, sound more different to me than the difference between Oslo Norwegian and Stockholm Swedish (a few words can be different, but not many, and I refer more to the melody in this comment of mine)!
     
    Last edited:

    raumar

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    We seem to be talking about two different things here. The first three posts discussed the fact that Norwegian and Swedish use two different tonemes for pronunciation of words with more than one syllable (known as the "bønder-bønner" distinction in Norway). As far as I know, these two tonemes are used in most varieties of Norwegian and Swedish, even though it happens that one specific word is pronounced with one toneme in Norwegian and the other in Swedish, or with one toneme in one dialect and the other in another dialect.

    Your question is not about the pronunciation of single words, but about the intonation throughout a whole sentence - the sentence melody. It is true that there is great variation between Norwegian dialects in that respect. When a Norwegian speaks English, for example, the intonation usually reveals if he/she comes from Eastern, Western or Northern Norway (unless he/she speaks very good English). I think there are differences between the sentence melodies of Oslo Norwegian and Stockholm Swedish as well, but I don't know how to describe it. Maybe others can help?
     

    Silverc

    New Member
    Italian - Italy
    We seem to be talking about two different things here. The first three posts discussed the fact that Norwegian and Swedish use two different tonemes for pronunciation of words with more than one syllable (known as the "bønder-bønner" distinction in Norway). As far as I know, these two tonemes are used in most varieties of Norwegian and Swedish, even though it happens that one specific word is pronounced with one toneme in Norwegian and the other in Swedish, or with one toneme in one dialect and the other in another dialect.

    Your question is not about the pronunciation of single words, but about the intonation throughout a whole sentence - the sentence melody. It is true that there is great variation between Norwegian dialects in that respect. When a Norwegian speaks English, for example, the intonation usually reveals if he/she comes from Eastern, Western or Northern Norway (unless he/she speaks very good English). I think there are differences between the sentence melodies of Oslo Norwegian and Stockholm Swedish as well, but I don't know how to describe it. Maybe others can help?
    You are right, am not referring to the pronunciation, or written form, of individual words, but the question is: the tone system of individual words, I assume shared between Norwegian and Swedish (with minor differences), will certainly affect the sentence melody of both Norwegian and Swedish in similar ways (the tones of single words are a "constraint" of the phrase melody, I would assume). They are termed the only European languages with two distinct "tones" (different from "stress accents", of course), at least they are described so in the 2 grammar books of the Swedish language (one in Italian, very precise, another in English, they both describe Swedish a "tone anguage, along with Norwegian, the only ones in Europe"). I also have a grammar book of the Norwegian Language in English, that says the same thing as regard Norwegian and Swedish sharing similar patterns of intonation. They all seem to concur to the fact that Swedish and Norwegian have similar melody systems. I give you an example. A few months ago I happened to overhear a conversation in a bar here in Genoa (Italy) among some Scandinavian tourists. There was an exchange of communication in English, then I said, "you must be Swedish, I can talk some (which I like)". They said no, they were Norwegians (3 persons) and a Finnlandssvenska (they communicated in Scandinavian among themselves, not in English, note)! I kept on speaking Swedish to them, and we understood all each other in an admittedly simple communication exchange. I also found a reference that says that the Danish stød is a relatively recent development of the peninsular Scandinavian melodies (the Øresund bridge was not there yet!), and shows how to parallel them (the Danish stød and the Swedo-Norwegian tones). Very interesting, maybe not from the practical point of view, but maybe at least at the historical linguistical level, which could also help informed people in the various Scandinavian countries to presereve their common linguistic Heritage (and help them to continue the tradition to communicate in their respective languages, without resorting to English, so that they could continue to have a common reference in the literatures: Ibsen in Norwegian, Strindberg in Swedish, Kierkegaard in Danish ...).
     
    Last edited:

    George VII

    New Member
    English - Nigeria
    Svensk ordbok (SO) provides the pronunciation of all words in the citation forms, but unfortunately not the inflected forms: svenska.se – Akademiens ordböcker
    The inflected forms receive their toneme (pitch accent) in a quite regular manner, but I'll leave it to the Swedes to account for the rules.
    The rules for what accents the inflected forms get are described in Volume 2 of Svenska Akademiens grammatik Grammatik – svenska.se. Search for "accent 1" and "accent 2" in the PDF.

    SO usually explicitly includes the accents for inflected forms when they are exceptions. Compare:

    fegisar (accent 1, implicit in SO)
    fegis | SO | svenska.se

    rötter (accent 1, explicit in SO)
    rot | SO | svenska.se

    söner (accent 2, implicit in SO)
    son | SO | svenska.se

    termer (accent 1, explicit in SO)
    term | SO | svenska.se
     
    [...] For example 'pojke' is supposed to be pronounced with the grave accent, whereas its declined form 'pojken' seems to have the grave accent on it. [...]
    Some words and forms are unstable as to grave or accute accent—there are regional and other variations. The word pojke is very often pronounced with the accute, although the grave is perhaps more common nowadays. I would never dream of saying en pojke with grave accent. (I don't understand what you're saying above. It says grave in both places.)
     
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