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Lesson Transcript

Michael: Does Swedish use the same alphabet as English?
Jesper: And do Swedish letters sound the same as English ones?
Michael: At SwedishPod101.com, we hear these questions often.
In the following situation HEDDA HÅKANSSON, a kindergarten student, is studying the alphabet with her teacher, Molly Malm. She sees an unfamiliar letter and asks, "What letter is that?"
Hedda Håkansson: Vilken bokstav är det?
Hedda Håkansson: Vilken bokstav är det?
Molly Malm: Det är ö.
Michael: Once more with the English translation.
Hedda Håkansson: Vilken bokstav är det?
Michael: "What letter is that?"
Molly Malm: Det är ö.
Michael: "It's /øː/."

Lesson focus

Michael: Swedish uses the Swedish alphabet, which is the Latin alphabet plus three additional letters. These additional letters might look familiar to English speakers, but they have been altered with diacritics — marks that have been added to the base character to change their pronunciation.
The three distinct letters are the vowels
Jesper: /ɛː/ pronounced å
Ä pronounced Ä,
Michael: and,
Jesper: Ö pronounced Ö.
Michael: The first letter,
Jesper: Ä
Michael: looks like an a with two dots above, and it sounds like the "a" in "apple" or "and." It's the first letter of the Swedish word for egg,
Jesper: ägg.
Michael: This letter is pronounced /ɛː/ when long, as in
Jesper: ära
Michael: Meaning "honor"and /ɛ/ when short, like in
Jesper: ärta
Michael: meaning "pea." The letter,
Jesper: å
Michael: looks like an a with a ring above it. It's a letter in its own right and is the third to last letter in the Swedish alphabet. It sounds a lot like the English "o" in "orange" or "orangutan." It's pronounced /oː/ when long, as in
Jesper: hål
Michael: Meaning "hole" or "pit," or as /ɔ/ when short, like in
Jesper: hålla,
Michael: meaning "keep." The third letter,
Jesper: ö
Michael: is often difficult to pronounce unless you know what sound to mimic. It sounds very close to "ea" in "Earth" or "ea" in "early." It's pronounced /øː/ when long like in
Jesper: röt,
Michael: meaning "roared" or /œ/ when short like in
Jesper: rött
Michael: meaning "red,"
Michael: So far we have learned that Swedish uses the same alphabet as English, plus three distinct characters. Does it mean that the two alphabets also sound alike?
Let's listen together to the Swedish alphabet.
Jesper: a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, z, å, ä, ö.
Michael: Out of the 29 letters, 20 are consonants, or
Jesper: Konsonanter
Michael: And nine are vowels, or
Jesper: vokaler.
Michael: Five of the letters do not have their own pronunciation, these are:
Jesper: C (se) pronounced "K" or "S,"
W pronounced "V,"
Q pronounced "K,"
X pronounced "KS"
Michael: and
Jesper: Z pronounced "S."
Michael: Moreover, just like in English, many Swedish words sound different than you'd expect from their written form. One example that many young Swedish children struggle with when they learn to read and write, is the word:,
Jesper: mig
Michael: Meaning "me." Despite the way it sounds, it's spelled
Jesper: M-i-g.
Michael: This is just one out of many exceptions that have to be learned by memorization.
Cultural Insight/Expansion
Michael: Remember, all 29 Swedish letters are written differently in lowercase and uppercase, just like in English.


Michael: Great job. Now you know about the Swedish alphabet. That's all there is to it!
Be sure to download the lesson notes for this lesson at SwedishPod101.com — and move onto the next lesson!

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