Introduction to Swedish/Spelling

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Grammar[edit]

The ng-sound[edit]

Normal case: tung, tvinga, sväng

Spelled gn when the ng-sound is followed by a n-sound: regn, lugn, ugn, inhägna

An exception to above is tvungna as the ng-spelling of this word is herited from the adjective tvungen.

Spelled nk when the ng-sound is followed by a k-sound: bank, vinkel, dunkel

The tj-sound[edit]

Uppsala domkyrka

English examples of the tj sound: wash, fish, flush, shallow, ship

Before hard vowel, (at the beginning of words), the tj-sound is spelled tj.

tjusa, tjäna, tjalla, tjog

Before soft vowel, (at the beginning of words), the tj-sound is often spelled k, but sometimes tj.

Kina, kela, kind, kärlek, kyrka, körsbär¨ Tjej, tjäna, tjära

Exceptions with tj-sound kjol, kiosk

The skj-sound[edit]

Due to the development of the spoken language since the Middle Ages, this sound is complex, not only in terms of spelling but also in terms of pronunciation. In "standard" Swedish without any strong social or regional marker this sound is pronounced in a way very similar to German "Buch" or Scots "loch". However, it can also be pronounced in a way midway between the "tj" sound and "sh-" in English and then carries a strong upper-class social marker, except in Northern Sweden where a similar pronunciation is very widespread without social connations. The social marker can elicit mildly to violent reactions whereas the regional marker is usually thought of as attractive.

The standard spelling is sj.

sju, sjö, sjal, sjåpig, själ

Before soft vowel the skj-sound is often spelled sk.

Regalskeppet Vasa, Stockholm

skepp, skinn, sky, skärm, sköld

Before 'o' and 'u' the skj-sound is sometimes spelled skj.

skjorta, skjul, skjuta

Before the soft vowel ä the skj-sound is sometimes spelled stj.

stjärna, stjärt, stjälk

In central and northern Sweden, the combination rs is also pronounced this way, except in formal recitals and by some elderly speakers. Particularly in Western Sweden (and there more clearly in lower-class sociolects) the combinations "rs" and "rt" are pronounced "s" and "t".

fors, färsk, kurs

For some exceptions in beginning of loan words, before a soft vowel the skj-sound is spelled g.

generell, generös, giraff

Before hard vowel in some borrowed words spelled ch.

choklad, chock, chans

Before o in some borrowed words spelled ti.

station, situation, aktion

In a few words, the spelling is sch.

schack, schampo; dusch

The j-sound[edit]

jord, boj,

djup, djungel, djärv, djur

gärna, ge

gjuta, gjorde

hjärna, hjälp

ljuvlig, ljus

The rd and rt-sounds[edit]

Pronounced with soft r and long preceding vowel in a manner reminiscent of Hindi or Urdu ṭ and ḍ; in certain rural dialects "lt" is pronounced in a similar way.

ord, börda

kort, art

The r-sound[edit]

This sound depends strongly on dialect. There are five variants.

The s-sound[edit]

sång, stilla, bas

cykel, cyklop, cyanid, Cecilia

Z is pronounced like s.
zink, zoo, zon

Example Sentences[edit]

Många ugnar görs i Kina. Many ovens are made in China.

Hjärnan är jättestor. The brain is huge.

I djungelns djup finns många djärva djur. Deep in the djungle there is a lot of brave animals.

I skjulet finns skjorta. In the shed there is shirt.

Example Text[edit]

Drottning Kristinas far, Gustav II Adolf, lät bygga regalskeppet Vasa år 1628. Skeppet sjönk på sin jungfrufärd eftersom det var för rankt byggt. Anders Franzén återfann det sjunkna skeppet 1956. Det bärgades och konserverades och finns nu på Vasamuséet i Stockholm.

The father of Queen Christina, Gustav II Adolf, built the warship Vasa in the year 1628. The ship sank on its maiden voyage as it was too unstable. Anders Franzén found the sunken ship in 1956. It was brought up and preserved and is now exposed at the Vasa museum in Stockholm.

Exercises[edit]

Pronounce these words

A) juni, hjul, jul, djur, gjuta, gubbe, galt, hjort, hjässa, ge, ljuvlig

B) kurva, tjusig, köra, kärv, kär, tjäle, tjockis, varsel, mars, kjol

C) skalle, sjal, stjälpa, skjorta, sko, skinn, generad, gumma, gäst, ljus

D) vart, färd, fart, hord, rabbla, borra, bura in, barrikad

E) vagn, dunge, djungel, ting, stygn, tvungna, ringla

F) bastu, vass, central, Barsebäck, morsning, kross, brons

Translate into English
1. Ett skepp med körsbär kommer från Kina.
2. Cecilia är en schackspelare.
3. Djur ska inte tvättas med schampo.
4. Giraffer och zebror är afrikanska djur.
5. Kring jul tänder man många ljus.

Translate into Swedish
6. You will gain on it!
7. There is a shot giraffe in the shed.
8. Venus is bright, but it is not a star!
9. I bought two skirts in a kiosk.
10. A lot of species have brains.

Answers to exercises

Glossary[edit]

en aktion, flera aktioner a political action, several political actions
en art, flera arter a species action, several species
en bank, flera banker a bank, several banks
en bas, flera basar a base, several bases
en boj, flera bojar a buoy, several buoys
en chans, flera chanser a chance, several chances
en chock, flera chocker a chock, several chocks
en choklad, flera choklader a chocolate, several chocolates
en cykel, flera cyklar a bike, several bikes
en djungel, flera djungler a jungle, several jungles
djup, djupare, djupast deep, deeper, the deepest
ett djup, flera djup a depth, several depths
ett djur, flera djur an animal, several animals
djärv, djärvare, djärvast brave, braver, the bravest
dunkel, dunklare, dunklast dark, darker, the darkest
en dusch, flera duschar a shower, several showers
en fors, flera forsar a stream, several streams?
färsk, färskare, färskast ripe, riper, the ripest
(att) ge, ger gav, givit to give, gives, gave, given
(att) göra, gör, gjorde, gjort to do, does, did, done
generell, mer generell, mest generell general, more general, the most general
generös, mer generös, mest generös generous, more generous, the most generous
en giraff, flera giraffer a giraffe, several giraffes
en hjälp, mycket hjälp a help, much help
(att) inhägna to fence off
(att) kela to caress
en kind, flera kinder a cheek, several cheeks
ett Kina, flera Kina a China, several China
en kiosk, flera kiosker a kiosk, several kiosks
en kjol, flera kjolar a shirt, several shirts
en kurs, flera kurser a course, several courses
en kyrka, flera kyrkor a church, several churches
en kärlek, flera kärlekar a love, several loves
ett körsbär, flera körsbär a cherry, several cherries
ljuvlig, ljuvligare, ljuvligast sweet, sweeter, the sweetest
ett ord, flera ord a word, several words
ett schack, flera schack a chess, several chesses
ett schampo, flera schampo a shampoo, several shampoos
den sjätte the six:th
ett skinn, flera skinn a skin, several skins
en situation, flera situationer a situation, several situations
en skjorta, flera skjortor a shirt, several shirts
ett skjul, flera skjul a shed, several sheds
en station, flera stationer a station, several stations
stilla, mer stilla, mest stilla calm, calmer, the calmest
en stjälk, flera stjälkar a stem, several stems
en stjärna, flera stjärnor a star, several stars
en stjärt, flera stjärtar a but, several buts
en sång, flera sånger a song, several songs
ett tjog, flera tjog an amount of twenty, several amounts of twenty
en stjärt, flera stjärtar a but, several buts
(att) tjäna to earn
(att) tjusa to amaze
lugn, lugnare, lugnast calm, calmer, the calmest
ett regn, flera regn a rain, several rains
ett skepp, flera skepp a ship, several ships
en sväng, flera svängar a turn, several turns
tung, tyngre, tyngst heavy, heavier, the heaviest
(att) tvinga to force
en ugn, flera ugnar a owen, several owens
usch! yeuk!
en zon, flera zoner a zone, several zones
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