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Swedish alphabet

The Swedish alphabet (Swedish: Svenska alfabetet) is a basic element of the Latin writing system used for the Swedish language. The 29 letters of this alphabet are the modern 26-letter basic Latin alphabet (⟨a⟩ to ⟨z⟩) plus å, ä, and ö, in that order. It contains 20 consonants and 9 vowels (⟨a e i o u y å ä ö⟩). The Latin alphabet was brought to Sweden along with the Christianization of the population, although runes continued in use throughout the first centuries of Christianity, even for ecclesiastic purposes, despite their traditional relation to the Old Norse religion. The runes underwent partial "latinization" in the Middle Ages,[1] when the Latin alphabet was completely accepted as the Swedish script system, but runes still occurred, especially in the countryside, until the 18th century, and were used decoratively until mid 19th century.[1]

Letters

The pronunciation of the names of the letters (that does not necessarily coincide with the sounds the letters represent) is as follows:

Å, Ä and Ö

In addition to the basic twenty-six letters, A–Z, the Swedish alphabet includes Å, Ä, and Ö at the end. They are distinct letters in Swedish and are sorted after ⟨z⟩ as shown above.[2]

Uncommon letters

The letter ⟨q⟩ is rare. ⟨q⟩ was common in ordinary words before 1889, when its replacement by ⟨k⟩ was allowed.[3] Since 1900, only the forms with ⟨k⟩ are listed in dictionaries.[4] Some proper names kept their ⟨q⟩ despite the change to common words: Qvist, Quist, Husqvarna, Quenby, Quinby, Quintus, Quirin and Quirinus. Other uses include some loanwords that retained ⟨q⟩, including queer, quisling, squash, and quilting; student terms such as gasque; and foreign geographic names like Qatar.

The letter ⟨w⟩ is rare. Before the 19th century, ⟨w⟩ was interchangeable with ⟨v⟩ (⟨w⟩ was used in Fraktur, ⟨v⟩ in Antiqua). Official orthographic standards since 1801 use only ⟨v⟩ for common words. Many family names kept their ⟨w⟩ despite the change to common words.[citation needed] Foreign words and names bring in uses of ⟨w⟩, particularly combinations with webb for (World Wide) Web. Swedish sorting traditionally and officially treated ⟨v⟩ and ⟨w⟩ as equivalent, so that users would not have to guess whether the word, or name, they were seeking was spelled with a ⟨v⟩ or a ⟨w⟩. The two letters were often combined in the collating sequence as if they were all ⟨v⟩ or all ⟨w⟩, until 2006 when the 13th edition of Svenska Akademiens ordlista (The Swedish Academy's Orthographic Dictionary) declared a change.[5][6][7][8][9] ⟨w⟩ was given its own section in the dictionary, and the ⟨w⟩ = ⟨v⟩ sorting rule was deprecated.[10] This means Swedish books printed before 2006 would group ⟨w⟩ with ⟨v⟩ in the index, and most Swedish software published before 2006 would treat the two as variations of a single character when sorting text.

The letter ⟨z⟩ is rare, used in names and a few loanwords such as zon "zone". ⟨z⟩ historically represented /ts/. By 1700, this had merged with /s/. As a result, ⟨z⟩ was replaced by ⟨s⟩ in 1700. ⟨z⟩ was instead used in loanwords for historical /z/. ⟨z⟩ is the second least used letter in Swedish, before ⟨q⟩.[11]

Foreign letters

The characters ⟨à⟩ (which is used only in a few rare non-integrated loanwords such as à, from French) and ⟨é⟩ (used in some integrated loanwords like idé and armé, and in some surnames such as Rosén or Löfvén) are recognised but regarded as variants of ⟨a⟩ and ⟨e⟩, respectively.

The umlauted ü is recognised but is only used in names of German origin, and in German loanwords such as müsli. It is otherwise treated as a variant of y and is called "German ⟨y⟩".

For foreign names, ⟨ç, ë, í, õ⟩ and many others might be used, but are usually converted to ⟨c, e, i, o⟩, etc.

The letters ⟨æ⟩ and ⟨ø⟩, used in Danish and Norwegian, are considered variants of ⟨ä⟩ and ⟨ö⟩, and are collated as such. Unlike letters with diacritics like ⟨à⟩, ⟨ë⟩, ⟨í⟩, etc. ⟨æ⟩ and ⟨ø⟩ are not easily available on Swedish keyboards, and are thus often replaced with ⟨ä⟩ and ⟨ö⟩. The news agency TT follows this usage because some newspapers have no technical support for ⟨æ⟩ and ⟨ø⟩,[12] although there is a recommendation to use ⟨æ⟩ and ⟨ø⟩. The letter ⟨æ⟩ was used in earlier Swedish script systems, when there was in general more similarity between the Scandinavian languages.

The ligature ⟨æ⟩, used in Latin as a variant of ⟨ae⟩, is used in some Swedish surnames. It is then considered equivalent with ⟨ae⟩ and collated accordingly. However, sometimes it is collated as ⟨ä⟩: in the 14th edition of the Svenska Akademiens ordlista, the words læstadian, læstadianer, læstadianism (from the surname Læstadius) are sorted between lästa and lästeknik.

Handwritten cursive alphabet

Swedish handwritten alphabet

The Swedish traditional handwritten alphabet is the same as the ordinary Latin cursive alphabet, but the letters ⟨ö⟩ and ⟨ä⟩ are written by connecting the dots with a curved line, identical to a tilde ⟨◌̃⟩, hence looking like ⟨õ⟩ and ⟨ã⟩. In text the dots should be clearly separated, but in handwriting writers frequently replace them with a macron ⟨◌̄⟩: ⟨ō⟩, ⟨ā⟩.

Sound–spelling correspondences

Vowels
Letter Pronunciation (IPA) Notes
Long Short
a /ɑː/ /a/
e /eː/ /ɛ/ Some speakers distinguish two short sounds: /ɛ/ and /e/. The former sound is usually spelled ⟨ä⟩, but some words exceptionally have ⟨e⟩, among them words with ⟨ej⟩, numerals, proper names and their derivations, and loanwords. Before 1889, ⟨e⟩ for /ɛ/ and /ɛː/ was also used for many other words, in particular words with ⟨je⟩ now spelled ⟨jä⟩.
The sound /eː/ at the end of loanwords and in the last syllable of Swedish surnames is represented by ⟨é⟩.
i /iː/ /ɪ/
o /uː/,

/oː/

/ɔ/, /ʊ/ The phoneme /ʊ/ is relatively infrequent; short ⟨o⟩ more often represents /ɔ/. Long ⟨o⟩ usually represents /uː/ in native words.
u /ʉː/ /ɵ/
y /yː/ /ʏ/
å /oː/ /ɔ/ Most words with /ɔ/ and some words with /oː/ are spelled with ⟨o⟩.
ä /ɛː/ /ɛ/ Some words with /ɛ/ are spelled with ⟨e⟩.
ö /øː/ /œ/ The short ⟨ö⟩ is, in some dialects, pronounced as /ɵ/.

Short vowels are followed by two or more consonants; long vowels are followed by a single consonant, by a vowel or are word-final.

Consonants
Grapheme Sound (IPA) Notes
b /b/
c /k/, /s/ /s/ before front vowels ⟨e i y⟩ (not used before ⟨ä ö⟩), otherwise /k/ (not used before ⟨å⟩). The letter ⟨c⟩ alone is used only in loanwords (usually in the /s/ value) and proper names, but ⟨ck⟩ is a normal representation for /kː/ after a short vowel (as in English and German).
ch /ɧ/, /ɕ/ In loanwords. The conjunction och (and) is pronounced /ɔkː/ or /ɔ/.
d /d/
dj /j/
f /f/
g /ɡ/, /j/ /j/ before front vowels ⟨e i y ä ö⟩, otherwise /ɡ/
gj /j/
gn /ɡn/, /ŋn/ /ɡn/ word-initially; /ŋn/ elsewhere
h /h/
hj /j/
j /j/
k /k/, /ɕ/ /ɕ/ before front vowels ⟨e i y ä ö⟩ except for a kör, otherwise /k/
kj /ɕ/
l /l/
lj /j/
m /m/
n /n/
ng /ŋ/, /ŋɡ/, /ng/
p /p/
r /r/ Is pronounced as [ɾ] in some words. Considerable dialectal variation, often pronounced as an approximant [ɹ] or fricative [ʐ]. Southern dialects are noted for their uvular realization of /r/; that is, a uvular trill [ʀ], a fricative [ʁ] or [χ], or an approximant [ʁ̞].
rd /ɖ/
rl /ɭ/
rn /ɳ/
rs /ʂ/
rt /ʈ/
s /s/
sj /ɧ/
sk /sk/, /ɧ/ /ɧ/ before front vowels ⟨e i y ä ö⟩ and in the words människa and marskalk, otherwise /sk/
skj /ɧ/
stj /ɧ/
t /t/
tj /ɕ/
v /v/ Before 1906, ⟨fv, hv⟩ and final ⟨f⟩ were also used for /v/. Now these spellings are used in some proper names.
w /v/ Rarely used (loanwords, proper names). In loanwords from English, may represent /w/.
x /ks/
z /s/ Only used in loanwords and proper names.

Spellings for the ⟨sje⟩-phoneme /ɧ/

Due to several phonetic combinations coalescing over recent centuries, the spelling of the Swedish sje-sound is very eclectic. Some estimates claim that there are over 50 possible different spellings of the sound, though this figure is disputed. Garlén (1988) gives a list of 22 spellings (⟨ch⟩, ⟨che⟩, ⟨g⟩, ⟨ge⟩, ⟨gi⟩, ⟨ige⟩, ⟨j⟩, ⟨je⟩, ⟨sc⟩, ⟨sch⟩, ⟨sh⟩, ⟨shi⟩, ⟨si⟩, ⟨sj⟩, ⟨sk⟩, ⟨skj⟩, ⟨ssi⟩, ⟨ssj⟩, ⟨stg⟩, ⟨sti⟩, ⟨stj⟩, ⟨ti⟩), but many of them are confined to only a few words, often loanwords, and all of them can correspond to other sounds or sound sequences as well. Some spellings of the sje-sound are as follows:

  • ⟨ch⟩ in most French loanwords, but in final position often respelled ⟨sch⟩. English loanwords with this spelling usually use the tje-sound
  • ⟨g⟩ in words mainly from French, for example generös (generous) and gentil (generous, posh, stylish)
  • ⟨ge⟩ mostly in the end of the word in many French loanwords, like garage, prestige
  • ⟨gi⟩ in for example religiös (religious)
  • ⟨j⟩ in French loanwords, e.g. jalusi (jalousie window)
  • ⟨sc⟩ in fascinera (fascinate)
  • ⟨sch⟩ in all positions in many German loanwords, like schack ("chess")
  • ⟨sh⟩ in all positions in many English loanwords
  • ⟨sj⟩ in many native Swedish words
  • ⟨sk⟩ in native Swedish words before the front vowels ⟨e, i, y, ä, ö⟩
  • ⟨skj⟩ in five words only, four of which are enumerated in the phrase I bara skjortan skjuter han skjutsen in i skjulet (In just his shirt he pushes the vehicle into the shed). The fifth word is skjuva (shear). It is also used in an old word skjura (Eurasian magpie) and dialectic derivations of the same
  • ⟨ssj⟩ in four words only: hyssja, hässja, ryssja, ässja
  • ⟨stg⟩ in three words only: västgöte, östgöte, gästgiveri. These are not common and are often pronounced as /stj/. All of them are compound words: väst+göte (person from Västergötland) öst+göte (person from Östergötland) and gäst+giveri (inn)
  • ⟨sti⟩ occurs only in the words digestion, indigestion, kongestion, suggestion, the place-name Kristianstad, and in the pronunciation of the name Christian when used about Danish kings
  • ⟨stj⟩ in five words only, all enumerated in the phrase Det är lättare att stjäla en stjälk än att stjälpa en stjärna med stjärten (It is easier to steal a stalk than to overturn a star with your behind)
  • ⟨-tion⟩, ⟨-sion⟩, ⟨-ssion⟩ (/ɧuːn/) in many words of Latin origin, e. g. station, information (in a few of these words, the sje-sound is preceded by a /t/, e. g. nation, rationell); also ⟨ti⟩ for /ɧ/ is used before vowels in some adjective derivations (e. g. pretentiös, infektiös)
  • ⟨xj⟩ for the sequence /kɧ/ occurs only in the place-name Växjö

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b "Runic alphabets / Runes / Futhark". www.omniglot.com. Archived from the original on April 3, 2020. Retrieved February 28, 2020.
  2. ^ Swedish: A Comprehensive Grammar Archived January 23, 2023, at the Wayback Machine by Philip Holmes and Ian Hinchliffe; section 12.1.3
  3. ^ "195 (Svenska Akademiens ordlista / Sjätte upplagan (1889))". runeberg.org. Archived from the original on June 17, 2022. Retrieved June 17, 2022.
  4. ^ "219 (Svenska Akademiens ordlista / Sjunde upplagan (1900))". runeberg.org. Archived from the original on June 17, 2022. Retrieved June 17, 2022.
  5. ^ "Svenska Akademiens ordbok – Trettonde upplagan av SAOL" (in Swedish). Swedish Academy. Archived from the original on June 28, 2011. Retrieved June 21, 2011. Trettonde upplagan inför slutligen något så ovanligt som ytterligare en självständig bokstav, nämligen w ("dubbel-v") som inte längre sorteras in under enkelt v utan – som i många andra språk, även nordiska – blir en bokstav med egen placering efter bokstaven v.
  6. ^ Svenska Akademien (April 10, 2006). Sven-Goran Malmgren (ed.). Svenska Akademiens ordlista över svenska språket (in Swedish). Stockholm: Norstedts Akademiska Förlag. pp. IX. ISBN 978-91-7227-419-8. Archived from the original on June 13, 2011. Retrieved June 21, 2011. Trettonde upplagan inför slutligen något så ovanligt som ytterligare en självständig bokstav, nämligen w ("dubbel-v") som inte längre sorteras in under enkelt v utan – som i många andra språk, även nordiska – blir en bokstav med egen placering efter bokstaven v.
  7. ^ Boldemann, Marcus (April 21, 2006). "Alfabetet blir längre – växer med W". Dagens Nyheter (in Swedish). Archived from the original on August 10, 2011. Retrieved June 21, 2011. Alfabetet består inte längre av 28 bokstäver, utan 29. Det betyder att ett stort antal läroböcker måste skrivas om. Att det blivit så här beror på att Svenska Akademiens ordlista (SAOL) i sin nya upplaga särskiljer W från enkelt V. Äntligen – för det är internationell praxis.
  8. ^ "Veckans språkråd". Veckans språkråd 2006 v. 28 (in Swedish). Språkrådet Swedish Language Council. July 10, 2006. Archived from the original on October 16, 2016. Retrieved June 21, 2011. Om särsortering av v och w slår igenom i fler sammanhang, t.ex. i ordböcker, innebär det att det svenska alfabetet kan sägas ha 29 bokstäver, inte som tidigare bara 28. Behöver man ange denna uppgift, bör man tills vidare ge en förklaring i stil med: "det svenska alfabetet har 29 bokstäver (om man räknar w som en bokstav med egen plats i alfabetet)". Har man inte plats för sådana nyanserade tillägg, är det säkrast att uppge antalet till 29.
  9. ^ Aniansson, Eva (January 11, 2010). "3 mars 2011 — bokstaven 'W' 6 år: HURRA!". E-mail: Subject: Bokstaven W (in Swedish). linkli.st. Archived from the original on October 21, 2011. Retrieved June 21, 2011. Den rimligaste 'födelsedagen' är nog 3 mars 2005. Då fattade nämligen Svenska Akademiens sitt beslut att föra in W som bokstav i alfabetet. Den direkta anledningen var, som du själv påpekar, att den kommande upplagan av SAOL skulle sära på V och W. Själva bokstaven har ju funnits i långliga tider, men det var alltså i SAOL13, som kom ut våren 2006, närmare bestämt den 10 april 2006, som Akademiens ordlista för första gången hade W som 'en bokstav med egen placering efter bokstaven V'.
  10. ^ "W Joins the Swedish Alphabet". Sveriges Radio. April 24, 2006.
  11. ^ "Practical Cryptography". Archived from the original on November 1, 2013. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 6, 2007. Retrieved September 11, 2008.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

References

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Swedish alphabet
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