Appendix:Norwegian Nynorsk pronunciation

This is a guide to the pronunciation of Norwegian Nynorsk and how to transcribe pronunciations on Wiktionary.

There is no centrally mandated pronunciation of Norwegian. In Wiktionary, the pronunciation given for Norwegian Nynorsk generally reflects the pronunciation in the parts of Norway where Nynorsk is mostly used, as well as which has the most phonemes. The phonemic transcriptions will ideally differentiate between phonemes that may have merged in some dialects. Other pronunciations may also be possible.

Consonants edit

Letter(s) Realisation Examples Other regional
b /b/, [b] bok, [bu̞ːk], book
d- /d/, [d] du, [dʷʉː], you (singular)
dd /dː/, [dː] breidd, [brɛ̝ɪ̯dː], width [ɟ] (Trøndsk, Northern Norwegian)
dj /ʝ/, [ʝ], [ɟ͡ʝ] rydja, [²rʏʷː.ʝɐ̞], clean up [j] many places
dk [kː] vidka, [²ʋɪk.kɐ̞], widen
f /f/, [f] fot, [fu̞ːt], foot
g /ɡ/, [ɡ] before a, o, u, å god, [ɡu̞ː], good
/ʝ/, [ʝ], [ɟ͡ʝ] before ei, i, y, øy geil, [ʝɛ̝ɪ̯ːl], cow trail [j] many places
gj /ʝ/, [ʝ], [ɟ͡ʝ] dagen, [¹dɐ̞ː.ʝən], the day [j] many places
h /h/, [h] han, [hɐ̞nː], he
j /j/, [j] jord [ju̞ːr], [ju̞ːɽ], soil
k /k/, [kʰ], [k] before a, o, u, å katt, [kʰɐ̞tː], cat
/ç/, [ç], [c͡ç] before ei, i, y, øy kyrkja [²çʏʷr.çɐ̞], church
kj /ç/, [ç], [c͡ç] kjapp, [çɐ̞pː], fast
l /l/, [l] land, [lɐ̞nd], [lɐ̞nː], country
/ɽ/, [ɽ] sol (regional), [su̞ːɽ], sun
m /m/, [m] mann, [mɐ̞nː], man
mf /mf/, [ɱf] heimferd, [²hɛ̝ɪːɱ.fɛ̝ˑr], [²hɛ̝ɪːɱ.fɛ̝ˑɽ], return homewards
n /n/, [n] nes, [nɛ̝ːs], headland
ng /ŋ/, [ŋ] lang, [lɐ̞ŋɡ], [lɐ̞ŋː], long
ngj /nʝ/, [ɲʝ] stengja, [²stɛ̝ɲ.ʝɐ̞], to close
p /p/, [pʰ], [p] par, [pʰɐ̞ːr], pair; couple
gapa [²ɡɐ̞ː.pɐ̞], to gape.
r /r/, [r], [ɾ] rud, [rʊː], [ɾʊː], clared forest
rd /r/, [r] gard, [ɡɐ̞ːr], farm
/ɽ/, [ɽ] gard, [ɡɐ̞ːɽ], farm
s /s/, [s] sol, [su̞ːl], [su̞ːɽ], sun
sj /ʃ/, [ʃ]
/sj/, [sʲj]
sju, [ʃʉː], [sʲjʉː], seven
skj /ʃ/, [ʃ]
/sç/, [sç], [sc͡ç]
ski, [ʃiː], [sçiː], [sc͡çiː], ski
t /t/, [tʰ], [t] tal, [tʰɐ̞ːl], [tʰɐ̞ːɽ], number
gods, [²ɡu̞ts], goods
v /v/, [ʋ] våt, [ʋo̞ːt], wet

/p, t, k/ are all aspirated and pronounced almost identically to the equivalent English sounds. /b, d, ɡ/ are distinctly voiced, moreso than the English equivalents of most dialects.

The pronunciation of /r/ varies in the various dialects. In eastern dialects the pronunciation is more forward, [ɾ] or [r] while the pronunciation in south western dialects is further back, [ʁ] [χ]. The northernmost dialects use [ɹ], akin to English and Faroese.

In some dialects /s, t, d, n, l/ merge with /r/ and /ɽ/ into retroflex [ʂ, ɖ, ʈ, ɳ, ɭ], or postalveolar [ʃ, t̠, d̠, n̠, l̠]. Some dialects further differentiate between /r/ and /ɽ/ and pronounce /rn/ like [n̠] (while /n/ is [n̪]), and /ɽn/ like [ɳ]. In some dialects, /rɽ/ also merge into [ɻ].

Eastern Norwegian realisation or /r/ + alveolars edit

  • /rs/[ɻʂ], [ʂ], (regional) [ɹʃ], [ʃ]: Lars, [lɐ̞ːɻʂ], [lɐ̞ːɹʃ] Lars, male given name
  • /rt/[ɻʈ], [ʈ], (regional) [ɹt̠], [t̠]: bart, [bɐ̞ɻʈː], [bɐ̞ɹt̠ː] moustache
  • /rd/[ɻɖ], [ɖ], (regional) [ɹd̠], [d̠]: når du, [¹no̞ɻ.ɖʉˑ], [¹no̞ɹ.d̠ʉˑ] when you; varde, [²ʋɐ̞ːɻ.ɖə], [²ʋɐ̞ːɹ.d̠ə] lasted
  • /rn/[ɻɳ], [ɳ], (regional) [ɹn̠], [n̠]: garn, [ɡɐ̞ːɻɳ], [ɡɐ̞ːɹn̠] yarn; farne, [²fɐ̞ːɻ.ɳə], [²fɐ̞ː.ɹn̠ə] gone (plural)
  • /rl/[ɻɭ], [ɭ], (regional) [ɹl̠], [l̠]: farleg, [²fɐ̞ːɻ.ɭə(ɡ)], [²fɐ̞ːɹ.l̠ə(ɡ)] dangerous

Old Norse /rs/ or /rn/ have commonly turned into /sː/ and /nː/, but some dialects retain /rs/ and /rn/. Loanwords or literary words with ⟨rs⟩ and ⟨rn⟩ have /rs/ and /rn/ in all dialects.

⟨rd⟩ is usually /r/ or /ɽ/ in native words, descending from Old Norse /rð/. Most loanwords, however, and some literary words, have /rd/.

/ɽ/ + alveolars edit

  • /ɽs/[ɻʂ], [ʂ]: hals, /haɽs/[hɐ̞ɻʂ] neck; gulsott, /²ɡʊːɽ.sutː/[²ɡʊːɻ.ʂu̞tˑ] jaundice
  • /ɽt/[ɻʈ], [ʈ]: gult, /ɡʊɽt/[ɡʊːɻʈ] yellow (neuter); måltid, /²mɔːɽ.tiː/[²mo̞ːɻ.ʈiˑ] meal, time for eating
  • /ɽd/[ɻɖ], [ɖ] || hulder, /¹hʊɽd.əɾ/[¹hʊɻ.ɖəɾ] hulder, elf; valde, /²vaɽ.də/[²ʋɐ̞ɻ.ɖə] chose; bordduk, /²buːɽ.dʉːk/[²bu̞ːɻ.ɖʉˑk] tablecloth
  • /ɽn/[ɻɳ], [ɳ]: garden, /¹ɡaːɽ.n̩/[¹ɡɐ̞ːɻ.ɳ̩] the farm; jordnær, /²juːɽ.næːr/[²ju̞ːɻ.ɳæˑɾ] down to earth
  • /ɽl/[ɻɭ], [ɭ]: mållag, /²mɔːɽ.laːɡ/[²mo̞ːɻ.ɭɐ̞ɡ] language organisation; nordleg, /²nuːɽ.lə(ɡ)/[²nu̞ːɻ.ɭə(ɡ)] northern
  • /ɽr/[ɻ]: gulrot, /²ɡʊːɽ.ruːt/[²ɡʊː.ɻuˑt] carrot

Alveolars following retroflexes may also become retroflex, for instance huldra /¹hʊɽd.ra/[¹hʊɻɖ.ɻɐ̞], hårstrikk /²ho̞ːr.strɪkˑ/[²ho̞ːɻ.ʂtɾɪkˑ][²ho̞ːɻ.ʂʈɻɪkˑ], and nummer tre /ˌnumːər ˈtreː/[ˌnu̞mˑəɻˈʈɻeː].

Vowels edit

Monophthongs
Letter IPA Example and translation
i [iː] ti, [tʰiː], ten
[i] tidt, [tʰitː], often
ì [ɪː] vìta, [²ʋɪː.tɐ̞], to know;
skrive, [²skrɪː.ʋə], written (past ptcpl.)
[ɪ] finna, [fɪn.nɐ̞], to find;
kiste, [çɪstə], chest
y [yʷː] ny, [nyʷː], new
[yʷ] nytt, [nyʷtː], new (neuter
[ʏʷː] yver, [¹ʏʷː.ʋər], over;
hỳl, [hʏʷːl], [hʏʷːɽ] pothole
[ʏʷ] bygd, [bʏɡd], village
u [ʉː] hus, [hʷʉːs], house
[ʉ] butt, [bʉtː], lived (past ptcpl.)
ù [ʊː] rug, [rʊːɡ], rye
[ʊ] full, [fʊlː], full;
upp, [ʊpʰː], up
e [eː] ser, [seːr], see
[e] rett, [retː], right; straight; correct
è [ɛ̝ː] vera, [²ʋɛ̝ː.rɐ̞], to be
[ɛ̝] hest, [hɛ̝st], horse
æ [æː] læra, [²læː.rɐ̞], to learn; to teach
a [ɐ̞ː] har, [hɐ̞ːr], have
[ɐ̞] mann, [mɐ̞nː], man
ø [øː] brød, [brøː], bread
[ø] søtt, [søtː], sweet (neuter)
[œ] øks, [œks], axe;
mjølk, [mjœl̥k], [mjœɽ̊k], milk
o [u̞ː] god, [ɡu̞ː], good
[u̞] skodd, [sku̞dː], shod, shoed
ò [ɞ̞ː] hòl, [hɞ̞ːl], [hɞ̞ːɽ], hole
[ɞ̞] golv, [ɡɞ̞lʋ], [ɡɞ̞ɽʋ], floor
å [o̞ː] låg, [lo̞ːɡ], low
[o̞] grått, [ɡro̞tː], [ɡrɔtː], grey (neuter)
[ɔ]

The phoneme /a/ is realised as a lowered near-open central vowel [ɐ̞], or centralised open back unrounded vowel [ɑ̈]. In the dialects of Solør and Hedmarka, it’s [ɑ].

In many Norwegian dialects, /y/ and /ʏ/ are different phonemes, such as in hyl [hyʷːl] scream and hỳl [hʏʷːl] river pothole. In other dialects, [ʏʷ] may merge with [ø] (compare the spelling høl from earlier hyl, hỳl), and leave [ʏʷ] as an allophone of [yʷ]. Most Norwegian phonologies, as a result of basing themselves on Urban East Norwegian, don’t treat [ʏʷ] as a phoneme, despite the presence in the Norwegian spoken language. This has not been the tradition with Nynorsk, and dictionaries like Norsk Ordbog by Ivar Aasen differenciate between the “open” [ʏʷ] and “closed” [yʷ]. This is similar to how one differenciates between e.g. [u̞] and [ɞ̞] in hól [hu̞ːl] low hillock and hòl [hɞ̞ːl] hole.

In some dialects, like the one of Setesdal, the “closed” y (< Old Norse ý, ȳ) has developed into a diphthong. A word like sky (< Old Norse ský) is therefore pronounced [ʃuy̯ʷː] or [sjuy̯ʷː]. The “open” y (< Old Norse y) is pronounced like [yʷ] or [yʷø̯]. Example: ON fyl[fyʷːl] foal; ON synir[²sʷyø̯ʷːnɪ] (sỳni) sons. The latter has also become [²sʷy̯øʷːnɪ] (sø̀ni).

The Norwegian /y/ and /ʏ/ are commonly realised as protruded [yʷ] and [ʏʷ], while it’s common to write them as [y] and [ʏ]. Some dialects, in Western Telemark and North Gudbrand Valley, use the non-protruded, or regular, y [yᵝ] and [ʏᵝ]. Example: syl [syᵝːl] awl. The distinction is therefore relevant, not only on an international level, but also on a national one.

Short å has commonly the more open pronunciation [ɔ], so that the neuter of grå [ɡro̞ː] is [ɡrɔtː] instead of [ɡro̞tː]. In Setesdal, the vowel retains its length even before long consonant sounds, and does not change quality. Grått is therefore [ɡro̞ːtː].

The vowel å (from Old Norse á) has some places become a diphthong, most prominently in Hardanger, Voss and Sogn, with the pronunciations [ɐ̞u̞̯], [ɐ̞ʊ̯] or [ɔ̞u̞̯]. The eye dialect spelling of this is commonly ao or åo, such as in sognamaol (sognamål, lit. ‘Sogn language’), the dialect of Sogn.

Diphthongs
Spelling IPA Transcription, example and translation
au [œʊ̯] sau, [sœʊ̯], sheep
ei [ɛ̝ɪ̯] nei, [nɛ̝ɪ̯], no
øy [œʏ̯ʷ] døy, [dœʏ̯ʷ], die

The diphthong au is pronounced in various ways, most commonly [œʊ̯] and [əʊ̯], but some places also [æ̞ʊ̯], [æʊ̯], [ɐʊ̯], [ɞ̞ʊ̯], [u̞ʊ̯] and [əɵ]. In Setesdal, Hallingdal, Valdres, and parts of Nordfjord and Sunnmøre, it is pronounced [ɐ̞ʉ̯], [a̝ʊ̯] and [ɔ̞ʉ̯].[1] Setesdal also has [a̝u̯] and [o̞u̯], and [œu̯] in the southern part.[2]

The diphthong ei has a smaller amount of variations, and is most commonly pronounced [æi̯] or [ɛ̝ɪ̯]. Other pronunciations are [a̝ɪ̯] in Setesdal, Hallingdal, Valdres, Hardanger, Voss, Inner Nordfjord and South Gudbrand Valley, and also [æ̞ɪ̯] in the latter two.[1] Setesdal also has [ɐ̞ɪ̯] and [æ̞ɪ̯].[2]

The diphthong øy is almost always [œʏ̯ʷ], with the most common exception being dialects where it’s merged with ei due to iotacism. Parts of Inner Hordaland, Sogn, Inner Nordfjord and Inner Sunnmøre have [o̞ɪ̹̯], and other places have [oy̯ʷ], [ɐ̞y̯ʷ], [ɔy̯ʷ], [ɶ̠y̯ʷ] and [œɪ̹̯]. In Setesdal, it’s [ɔ̞ʏ̯ʷ].[2]

Stress and tonemes edit

Most dialects of Norwegian separate between two distinct tonemes. The way they are realised differs considerably between different dialects. The table gives only a few examples.

Stress and tone
IPA Examples Examples of realisation
[¹] livet
[¹liː.ʋə]
Tone 1 / acute accent:
  • low-rising tone in Oslo and Trondheim: [ˈlìː.ʋə̌]
  • falling-low tone in Bergen: [ˈlíː.ʋə̀]
  • rising-falling tone in Stavanger: [ˈlǐː.ʋə̌]
  • simple primary stress in certain accents: [ˈliːʋə][3]
[²] live
[²liː.ʋə]
Tone 2 / grave accent:
  • falling-rising tone in Oslo and Trondheim: [ˈlíː.ʋə̌]
  • rising-falling tone in Bergen: [ˈlǐː.ʋə̂]
  • falling-falling tone in Stavanger: [ˈlîː.ʋə̂]
  • simple primary stress in certain accents: [ˈliː.ʋə][3]

References edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Hans Ross (1906) Norske bygdemaal[1], Kristiania: Det Norske Samlaget, page 32
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Hans Ross (1909) Norske bygdemaal[2], Christiania: Jacob Dybwad, page 40
  3. 3.0 3.1 A few dialects have a simple primary stress rather than a contrastive pitch accent. In those accents, livet (meaning ‘the life’) and live (dative of liv, such as in i live ‘alive’) are pronounced exactly the same.