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Norwegian pronunciation

 

This is a quick pronunciation guide for Norwegian. We recommend you to read through this and practice the sounds before you start the lessons.

Three reasons for learning the pronunciation:

  • The spoken language is the origin of the written language.
  • If you don't know to pronounce a language, you are not able to talk to people, only to write them.
  • If you don't know how to pronounce the letters, it will be very difficult to learn the words. You'll not be able to remember the words as sounds, only as a combination of letters.

This is the Norwegian alphabet: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

We can group the letters like this:

Vowels: a e i o u y
Consonants: b d f g h j k l m n p r s t v
Consonants used only in foreign loan words: c q w x z

Keep in mind that the pronunciation of some of the letters vary notably from one region to another in Norway. This guide focuses on the pronunciation in the south eastern part of the country, i.e. the capital Oslo and surrounding areas.

The written examples from other languages in the tables below are just approximate. For some of the letters we have included examples from more than one language (since we are aware of having a multilinguistic audience), but this doesn't mean that the letter has two different pronunciations.

(You need to have installed a Unicode font in order to display some of the phonetic symbols.)

Vowels:

The Norwegian vowels may be long or short. In most cases, the vowel is long when followed by one or no consonants, while it's normally short when followed by two consonants (identical or different). That means that in the following words, the vowel a is long in (1) and (2), and short in (3) and (4):

  1. ha (long)
  2. hat (long)
  3. hatt (short)
  4. hast (short)

There are, however, some exceptions, especially in one-syllable words.

Click on the phonetic symbols to hear the Norwegian pronunciation.

Letter

Long

Short

a a: a in British English "bath" a o in American English "hot";
a in French "pas"
e e: ai in American English "air" e e in English "bet";
e in Spanish "me"
i i: ee in English "see" ı i in English "sit";
i in Spanish "mis"
o u: in Spanish "msica", but longer;
o in French "o", but longer
o o in British English "not";
o
in Spanish "soy"
u u: oo in English "choose" u ou in English "you", but shorter;
u before k, m, n: u in Spanish "muy"
y y: similar to in German "ber" y u in French "chute"
: a in American English "bad" a in British English "bat"
: in German "schn";
similar to i in English "bird"
eu in French "peu"
o: aw in English "yawn" o o in British English "not";
o
in Spanish "soy"

Diphthongs:

Click on the phonetic symbols to hear the Norwegian pronunciation.

Letters Phon. Norwegian example Approximate pronunciation
ei j hei -
ai aj hai y in English "my"
y j ty -
au v sau -

Consonants:

Click on the Norwegian words to hear the pronunciation.

Letter   Phon. Norwegian example Approximate pronunciation
b   b bo b in English "be"
d   d du d in English "do"
f   f f f in English "for"
g normally: g g g in English "go"
before i or y: j gikk y in English "yes"
h normally: h hus h in English "house"
before a consonant: - hva silent
j   j ja y in English "yes"
k normally: k kom k in English "key"
before i or y: kino ch in German "ich";
x in Mexican Spanish "Mxico"
l   l le l in English "let", but with the tip of your tongue raised
m   m m m in English "more"
n   n nei n in English "nice"
p   p p p in English "post"
r   r ro r in Spanish "toro"
s   s se s in English "see"
t   t ta t in English "top"
v   v vi v in English "velvet"

Letter combinations and exceptions:

Click on the Norwegian words to hear the pronunciation.

Letters   Phon. Norwegian pronunciation Approximate pronunciation
sj   ʃ sj sh in English" she"
skj   ʃ skjre sh in English "she"
kj   kjre ch in German "ich";
x in Mexican Spanish "Mxico"
ng   ŋ ting ng in English "thing"
sk before i or y: ʃ ski sh in English "she"
tj beginning of words: tjre ch in German "ich";
x in Mexican Spanish "Mxico"
er before a consonant: r sterk -
eg end of words: j jeg -
ig end of words: ı deilig y in English "nicely"
ld end of words: l kald l in English "all"
nd end of words: n sand n in English "man"
rs   ʃ mars sh in English "she"
rl   ɭ perle l with the tip of your tongue curled backwards
rn   ɳ barn n with the tip of your tongue curled backwards
rt   ʈ fart t with the tip of your tongue curled backwards
  • In many cases, the consonants t and d are not pronounced at the end of a word
  • The r is often not pronounced before p, b, f, v, k and g.

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