Swedish: Pronunciation _rt in årtal (and in compound words)

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by gvergara, Jul 4, 2011.

  1. gvergara

    gvergara Senior Member

    Santiago, Chile

    I'd like to know what is/ should be the right (or standard) pronunciation of [rt] which originates when the first word of a compund word ends in [r] and the second one begins in [t] I'm asking because I thought the /t/ sound in årtal followed the "general rule" of pronunciation after an _r (as in fjorton, hårt, hjärta, osv), but apparently it doesn't. Could you please confrim that for me? Thanks in advance

  2. Tjahzi

    Tjahzi Senior Member

    Umeå, Sweden
    Swedish (Göteborg)
    In my dialect (Modern Gothenburgish) as well as in the majority of dialects (including Standard Swedish), this cluster is realized as a retroflex alveolar, that is /rt/ -> [ʈ].

    As far as I know, årtal isn't treated any differently. Where did you hear/read it?
  3. Tjahzi

    Tjahzi Senior Member

    Umeå, Sweden
    Swedish (Göteborg)
    Well, your observation is certainly correct.

    I can only imagine the speaker, eager to be clear, over simplifies the pronunciation and the deciding factor telling these two examples apart indeed seems to be the fact that årtal is a compound. However, I doubt you would hear it in a natural context.

    It's worth knowing that while Swedes are generally aware of that they don't pronounce köra or göra with a [k] and [g], the retroflex assimilation that occurs after /r/ (and the subsequent omission of [r]) is quite subconscious.
  4. Tazzler Senior Member

    American English
    Quite interesting really. Retroflex dentals/alveolars are much more typical of Indian languages, who would have thought that they would occur in the Nordic languages! Do you happen to know their history?
  5. Tjahzi

    Tjahzi Senior Member

    Umeå, Sweden
    Swedish (Göteborg)
    Hehe, indeed.

    Well, their occurrence is so extremely regular and predictable that their origin must be equally predictable. The rules go as follows:

    If a coronal consonant ([t], [d], , [n] or [l]) follows an /r/ (and that /r/ is realized as either [r] or [ɾ], and not [ʀ] or [ʁ] (which are dominating in southern varieties)), the coronal consonant is replaced by its retroflex counterpart ([ʈ], [ɖ], [ʂ], [ɳ], [ɭ]). If this retroflex coronal is also followed by another coronal, that coronal also becomes retroflex. This process continues until another consonant or vowel intervenes. Meanwhile, the /r/ is mute.
    As such, årstid (season, "year-time") is pronounce [oːʂʈiːd] and varning (varning) as [vɑːɳɪŋ].

    Given these facts, it seems reasonable to conclude that this is simply a case of assimilation that has arisen over the last few centuries. (We do use a few other assimilations, most notably the fricativization of [k] and [g] before front vowels (mostly in initial position)).
  6. Lugubert Senior Member

    Interesting development. When I grew up in the southern parts of Göteborg, fjorton, hårt, hjärta were fjotton, hått, jätta with a rather alveolar 't' like the Standard English 't'.

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