Pronunciation Chapter 1

The Norwegian alphabet

The Norwegian alphabet contains 29 letters, 9 vowels and 20 consonants:

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
Æ
Ø
Å

Below you will find each letter in upper and lower case as well as the pronunciation of the Norwegian "name" of the letter. The pronunciation is given with reference to The International Phonetic Alphabet, IPA. A colon after a vowel indicates a long speech sound. Absence of colon after the vowel indicates a short speech sound, cf. the long vowel /e:/ used to name the letter, and the short vowel /e/ in /ef/, to name the letter.

Below, brackets, < >, surround symbols that are to be regarded as letters, while slashes, / /, surround symbols that indicate speech sounds.

A B C D E F G H I J
a b c d e f g h i j
/ɑː/ /beː/ /seː/ /deː/ /eː/ /ef/ /geː/ /hoː/ /iː/ /jeː/
 
K L M N O P Q R S T
k l m n o p q r s t
/koː/ /el/ /em/ /en/ /uː/ /peː/ /kʉː/ /ær/ /es/ /teː/
 
U V W X Y Z Æ Ø Å
u v w x y z æ ø å
/ʉː/ /veː/ /2dobeltˌveː/ /eks/ /yː/ /set/ /æː/ /øː/ /oː/

The three last letters, the vowels < æ, ø, å > are rare among languages that are using the Latin alphabet. If necessary, users of foreign keyboards can replace each of them with a combination of two vowel letters:

<æ> - <ae> "sær"   "saer"   weird
<ø> - <oe> "sør" "soer" south
<å> - <aa> "sår" "saar" wound, sore

Of the remaining letters, <c, q, w, x, z> in general only occur in loanwords (camping, quiz, watt, xylofon, pizza).

The Norwegian and English letters compared

Below is a short overview comparing the pronunciation of the Norwegian alphabet compared to English.

The overlap between English and Norwegian speech sounds is smaller than what the list below seems to indicate as the list only refers to the letters. There are several consonant sounds that are expressed through consonant clusters (consequently they are not included in the alphabet, but they will be discussed in Chapter 5). The alphabet by itself does not express the difference between long and short vowels.

Norwegian 
letter
English reference 
a Like <a> in "hard"
b Like <b> in "buy"
c Before front vowels <i, e, y>  cf. /s/ in "circus"
Before back vowels <a, o, u>  cf. /k/ in "camping"
d Like <d> in "dog"
e Like <e> in "bed" 
f Like <f> in "fine"
g Like <g>  in "girl"
h Like <h> in "hat"
i Like <ee> in "see"
j Like <y> in "yes"
k Like <k> in "kite"
l Like <l> in "live"
m Like <m> in "map"
n Like <n> in "now"
o No equivalent
p Like <p> in "pen"
q In Norwegian, <qu> is pronounced as /kv/, cf. "quiz" - /kvis/
r Like Scottish "r". The tip of the tongue taps the alveolar ridge.
s Like <s> in "see"
t Like <t> in "tea"
u Approximately as the final vowel in "new"
v Like <v> in "violin"
w Like <v> in "violin"
x Like <x>  - /ks/ in "tax"
y No equivalent
z Pronounced as /s/, cf. "zoom" - /su:m/
æ Like <a> in "bad"
ø No equivalent
å Like <aw> in "saw"