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How to Pronounce Norwegian Words

Although it looks complex to the newcomer, written Norwegian has simple rules that
make correct pronunciation easy.
Although it is linguistically similar to the other Germanic languages, Norwegian has its
own pronunciation system that can trip up the unwary. However, the rules for
pronouncing Norwegian Bokml words are few and easy to remember with a little
Pronouncing Norwegian Vowels
Like in English, Norwegian vowels come in long and short forms. In general, vowels are
long at the end of a word or when followed by a single consonant, and short when
followed by a double consonant.
Although it is not always the case, it can be useful to remember that where written
English would use a double vowel, spoken Norwegian will generally use a long vowel.
There are nine vowels in Norwegian, pronounced as:

a like the a in far, when both long and short.

e long: like the ai in hair, and short: like the e in sled.

i long: like the ea in ear, and short: like the i in list.

o long: like the extended oo sound in book, and short: like the or in

u long: like the u sound in true, and short: like the u in full.

y in both long and short form, like is most like an ee sound in English.

although it looks like it should be ae, it is actually more like a clipped

a, as in hat.

in both long and short forms, this is like the ir in third.

long: like the aw in law, and short: like the o in pot.

Norwegian also splits vowels into hard and soft, which can change the pronunciation of
a following consonant.

Hard vowels: a, o, u,

Soft vowels: e, i, y, ,

Pronouncing Norwegian Diphthongs

There are three diphthongs in Norwegian:

ei pronounced like the i in sight.

y pronounced like ir-ee. Although Brits may be tempted to read it as oi!,

this would be incorrect.

au pronounced as the clipped a of hat followed by a short u.

Pronouncing Consonants in Norwegian

The majority of Norwegian consonants are pronounced like their English counterparts.
However, those that may need special attention are:

c pronounced like an s when in front of a soft vowel and like a k when in

front of a hard vowel (as in English).

g pronounced as g in front of hard vowels and consonants, but as y in

front of soft vowels.

k pronounced as k in front of hard vowels and consonants and as an

aerated h in front of soft vowels.

q pronounced similar to the kw sound in quell, and only found in foreign


w pronounced as a v and only found in foreign loanwords.

x pronounced as an s and only found in foreign loanwords.

z pronounced as an s and only found in foreign loanwords.

How to Pronounce Consonant Combinations

There are six consonant combinations that may change the sound of the letters in

ng pronounced like the ng in sing, although the g is mostly silent.

gn pronounced like the back of the tongue n in rain.

sk pronounced sh when before soft vowels.

skj pronounced sh.

rs often pronounced sh.

sl pronounced shl.

As a general rule of thumb for these consonant combinations, drop the g and say sh
where there's an s.
Silent Letters in Norwegian
Finally, there are five occasions where a letter will be silent in Norwegian. This mostly
occurs at the end of a word.

A d at the end of a word will usually be silent, although it is not in ned

(down) and sted (place);

A g is silent in adverbs and adjectives that end in -ig;

An h will be silent when it precedes a j or a v;

A t is silent at the end of a definite neuter noun (e.g. skjrtet, meaning the
skirt) and in det (it); and

A v is silent at the end of some words, but not all.

Norwegian Bokml is a reasonably straightforward system where pronunciation closely

matches the written word. With practice and by remembering these simple rules, being
understood when pronouncing Norwegian should be easy.
Copyright Zoe Kirk-Robinson