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Pronunciation - Prosody

Intro

In Norway you find several dialects that are quite different. When it comes to pronunciation the differences are related to consonant inventory and intonation.

There is no standard spoken Norwegian. It is common in teaching Norwegian as a second language to approach the Bokmål writing system, but the teacher often retains the intonation of her/his everyday speech, that is; dialect.

In the description below you find a general overview over Norwegian prosody.

Long or short vowels

Norwegian vowels may be long or short:

Click on this audio to hear the pronunciation.

vin /’viːn/ wine
vinn /’vin/ win
vind /’vin/ wind
vink /’viŋk/ hand signal, hint

In general, the duration is indicated through the orthography.

If a vowel is followed by one consonant, it is long, if it is followed by double consonants or a consonant cluster, it is short.

The long vowel is indicated in phonemic writing by using colon < ː >.

Stress

In general, the first syllable of Norwegian words is stressed.

In phonemic writing stress is indicated by an apostrophe < ‘ >:

The stress pattern can be different, and you will find words stressed on the first, second, penultimate and ultimate syllable.

Click on this audio if you want to hear the stress on the following words:

Norge /’norge/ Norway
spise /’spiːse/ eat
telle /’tele/ count
fortelle /fo’ʈele/ tell
studere /stʉ’deːre/ study
spandere /spɑn’deːre/ treat, stand treat
repetere /repe’teːre/ repeat
student /stʉ’dent/ student
produsent /prudʉ’sent/ producer
prosent /pru’sent/ percent

However, there are some rules for stress placement in loanwords:

  • Norwegian verbs ending in «-ere» are stressed on the penultimate syllable:
studere /stʉ’deːre/ study
spandere /spɑn’deːre/ treat, stand treat
repetere /repe’teːre/ repeat
  • Nouns ending in «-ent» are stressed on the ultimate syllable
student /stʉ’dent/ student
produsent /prudʉ’sent/ producer
prosent /pru’sent/ percent

Compounds

In compounds, each of the constituting parts carries its original stress.

The two stresses in the word are labeled primary and secondary stress respectively.

The primary stress is found in the first part of the compound, the secondary stress is found in the second part.

Click on this audio if you want to hear the pronunciation of the following compounds:

engelsk /’eŋelsk/ English
lærer /’læːrer/ teacher
en engelsk lærer /’eŋelsk ‘læːrer/ English teacher (teacher from England)
engelsklærer /’eŋelskˌlæːrer/ teacher of English

Do you want to give it a try?

On CALST you can find good prosody exercises in your dialect of choice…why not try Bergen or Trondheim for a change?

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This article is from the free online course:

Norwegian for Beginners 2

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)