9 Pronunciation

9 Pronunciation

Connected speech

The pronunciation of Norwegian is characterized by other features than just the speech sounds, long and short vowels, stress and tones. One issue that is important to master is how to produce connected speech.  What is typical of Norwegian is that one word is directly connected to the previous and the following word. This linking of words can be illustrated in the following way:

Han snakker engelsk.  Han-snakker-engelsk. 

This sentence should sound like one continuous chain of sounds (bold letters indicate stressed syllables):

Hun er ikke engelsk.  Hun-er-ikke-engelsk. 

This sentence should sound like one continuous chain of sounds:


Some languages, German for example, do not connect words in this way. If a word starts with a vowel, a glottal stop sound («Knacklaut», IPA symbol <ʔ>) will be inserted in front of the vowel:

Hun er ikke engelsk.  Hun ʔer ʔikke ʔengelsk. 

If this is introduced in Norwegian, it will lead to short frequent stops that will destroy the fluency which is expected.

Other languages, Spanish for example, do not accept words starting with /s/+another consonant (like /p, t, k/). In Spanish the /s/+consonant sequence must be preceded by a vowel, an /e/. If this is introduced in Norwegian, it will create new syllables that are not expected and which will destroy the expected fluency.

Norwegian  English  Spanish
Spania  Spain  España 
student  student  estudiante 
skole  school  escuela 

Other languages, Farsi for example, combine the two phenomena mentioned above. Here the /s/+consonant sequence also must be preceded by a vowel, which in its turn will be preceded by the glottal stop.

Norwegian  English  Farsi pronunciation of Norwegian
spa  spa  ʔespa 
student  student  ʔestudent 
skole  school  ʔeskole 

When speaking Norwegian, one should also pay attention to phenomena related to /r/ + /t, d, n, l, s/ which are mentioned earlier. If one word is ending in /r/ and the next is starting with /t, d, n, l, s/, the sounds will assimilate to / ʈ , ɖ , ɳ , ɭ , ʃ /.

Letter sequence Pronunciation of letter sequence
<rt> as in «er to»  is two  /r/ + /t/   →  /ʈ/   →  /æ'ʈuː/ 
<rd> as in «er det»  is it  /r/ + /d/   →  /ɖ/   →  /æ'ɖeː/ 
<rn> as in «er ny»  is new  /r/ + /n/   →  /ɳ/   →  /æ'ɳyː/ 
<rl> as in «er litt»  is a little   /r/ + /l/   →  /ɭ/   →  /æ'ɭit/ 
<rs> as in «er syk»  is ill  /r/ + /s/   →  /ʃ/   →  /æ'ʃyːk/ 

This phenomenon contributes highly to connecting words to each other.