Introduction to Nynorsk/Alphabet, spelling and pronunciation

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Nynorsk uses a variant of the latin alphabet; the same one that both Bokmål and Danish also use. Note, however, that the use of the alphabet varies from language to language; such as when and how often variants of the letters are used, and how phonetic the spelling is.

Alphabet[edit]

The alphabet has 29 letters. Below they are listed with their main pronunciation(s); deviations do exist, as is demonstrated by the two following subsections.

letter pronunciation (IPA) notes
A a /a/
B b /b/
C c /k/ and /s/ only found in loanwords and names
D d /d/
E e /e/ and /ɛ/ [1]
F f /f/
G g /g/
H h /h/ and silent not pronounced in some inherited words, such as hjort ('deer')
I i /i/ and /ɪ/ [1]
J j /j/
K k /k/
L l /l/
M m /m/
N n /n/
O o /u/ and /ɔ/ [1]
P p /p/
Q q /k/ only found in loanwords
R r e.g. /r/ or /ʁ/ or /ɾ/ varies a lot from dialect to dialect; but only one variant per dialect
S s /s/
T t /t/
U u /ʉ/ and /ʊ/ [1]
V v /ʋ/
W w /ʋ/ only found in loanwords
X x /ɛks/ at the start of words; /ks/ otherwise only found in loanwords
Y y /y/ and /ʏ/ [1]
Z z /s/ only found in loanwords
Æ æ /æ/
Ø ø /ø/
Å å /ɒ/
  1. a b c d e Many of the vowels have two distinct forms of pronunciation. There is no failsafe way to predict which form is being used when and where; and there is considerable variation from dialect to dialect as well.

Variants of letters[edit]

Some of the vowels in the alphabet are occasionally modified with different diacritics, sometimes indicating a special pronunciation.

letter pronunciation notes
À à pronounced as a regular a; found e.g. in the expression à la
É é Indicates the pronunciation /e/ (as opposed to /ɛ/) in inherited words (such as lét); indicates stress in loanwords (such as armé)
È è Indicates the pronunciation /ɛ/ (as opposed to /e/) in inherited words (such as lèt)
Ê ê Indicates in inherited words that the Old Norse origin contained a ð immediately after the e; has no (?) impact on pronunciation (example: vêr)
Ó ó Indicates the pronunciation /u/ (as opposed to /ɔ/) in inherited words (such as fór)
Ò Ò Indicates the pronunciation /ɔ/ (as opposed to /u/) in inherited words
Ô ô Indicates in inherited words that the Old Norse origin contained a ð immediately after the o; has no (?) impact on pronunciation (example: fôr)

Letter combinations[edit]

The first batch of letter combinations represent unique sounds that no letter in isolation represents. These sounds could in other words be represented by their own letters. For instance, the sound /ʃ/ (represented by sj and skj in Norwegian, sh in English) has its own letter in many alphabets, like the Russian Cyrillic letter ш; a letter which is indeeed transliterated as sj in Norwegian.

letter combinations that produce unique sounds
combination pronunciation (IPA) English equivalent notes
sj /ʃ/ shot
skj
sk /sk/ unless followed by ei, i, y or øy, in which case /ʃ/
kj /ç/ or /cç/  ? varies from dialect to dialect; pronounced as /ʃ/ in some dialects
tj
ki /çi/ or /cçi/  ? same as with kj

The second batch of letter combinations typically represent etymological spellings, the way (or closer to the way) the word was pronounced a long time ago. But not always; for instance the word gje ('give') is pronounced /je/, but its Old Norse origin was spelled gefa (and pronounced /geva/?); lacking j completely.

other letter combinations
combination pronunciation (IPA) notes
dj /j/
gj
hj
nd often /n/ (short vowel), but occasionally simply /nd/