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Lesson Transcript

Filip: Norwegian pronunciation series, lesson 3. Feeling the Stress in Norwegian.
Jack: Hi everyone!
Filip: Welcome back to the pronunciation series. My name is Filip.
Jack: And I'm Jack.
Jack: In the past two lessons, you learned how to pronounce the 31 native concerns, the nine vowels and the four diphthongs that make up the Norwegian language. In this lesson, we will tell you about some important pronunciation rules regarding double consonants, changing vowel sounds and pitch accent.
Filip: That sounds downright hard.
Jack: Yes. It might but it actually is not that hard. It’s not so much a bunch of rules as it is a heads-up about how Norwegian is spoken.
Filip: So you mean we don’t need to practice so much what we learned in this lesson, but pay attention to it when we are learning Norwegian?
Jack: Exactly. Spoken Norwegian is not built on rules so much as it is on guidelines and preference.
Filip: Let’s start.
Jack: We recommend that you follow along with the lesson notes so that you can see examples of what we are talking about. Let’s start with the double consonants.

Lesson focus

Filip: Double consonants in Norwegian make the pronunciation that much harder. This can easily be explained by pitch accent.
Jack: Yes Norwegian is a pitch accent language which means the stress is put on different parts of a word to distinguish between seemingly similar words and to help the flow of the sentence.
Filip: Norwegian generally uses two tonals. Number one, which puts stress on the first part of the word and number two which puts stress on the latter part of the word.
Jack: That’s right and words that have double consonants in the middle tend to be of the tonal type 2. Let’s give them some examples.
Filip: All right [bønder] means farmers and [bønner] means [beans] or prayers.
Jack: The first word [bønder] has heavier stress on the initial letters and it’s a tonal type 1, while [bønner] has a stress on the double n and the following er.
Filip: Norwegian can seem pretty complex this way and with there being no distinct rule for guessing a word’s pitch accent, the only way to really learn it properly is by hearing the words pronounced correctly. As you might remember, Norwegian only allows a maximum three successive consonants. Four successive for example is not allowed in Norwegian.
Jack: That said, you can only put a maximum two of the same consonants after each other. Three is not possible.
Filip: When there are three successive consonants as you will hear in our next example, the first two consonants are pronounced together and the third one starts the second part of the word.
Jack: So for our example, when you splice two single words, one which ends with two consonants and one that starts with two, you will naturally end up with four successive consonants in the middle of the new word.
Filip: But that is not allowed in Norwegian. So one consonant goes and 3 are kept. So let’s look at our example. [busstopp] In English, bus stop.
Jack: Norwegian bus ends in two s’s and stop starts with st and ends with double p. Putting these words together, we get three successive s’s and so one s goes.
Filip: Creating [busstopp]. As for the pronunciation of this, you first say [buss] then drag the s into topp [busstopp]
Jack: Ah I see. That’s pretty logical. Now there is one more thing to consonants. The difference between double and single consonant words can sometimes be confusing.
Filip: True. So let’s explain with a simple example.
Jack: All right go ahead.
Filip: We have two words [luke] and [lukke]
Jack: The first is a hatch or to pull weeds and the second one means to shut down right? There are two major differences here in the way single and double consonants are pronounced. A double consonant is harsher than the single consonant and more stress is put on it.
Filip: The second difference is that the vowel before a double consonant tends to change sound slightly sometimes.
Jack: And that means we can move over to the last part of this lesson.
Filip: Yes changing vowel sounds.
Jack: In Norwegian, three vowel letters stand out. These letters have two sound qualities depending on which word they are in.
Filip: The three vowels are E, O and U. Let’s try to explain this part as quickly and easily as possible.
Jack: Yes, there is not much to practice here just understanding how it works. Practice comes into the picture when you consciously think about these guidelines for listening to Norwegian. Okay so let’s start with E.
Filip: E is generally pronounced [e] in words but sometimes it takes on an [æ] sound. For example, we have words like [steke], selge and [brekke] for the general pronunciation. [servere], merke and [her] are also written with an E however.
Jack: What do we have next?
Filip: Next O is generally pronounced [o] in Norwegian but it can also sound like å on some occasions. Some words with the [o] pronunciation, soldat, mor, flora and with the å pronunciation [sokker, morken, godt]. Finally we have [U] which is generally pronounced [u] but under some circumstances has the pronunciation [o]. For example [fugl, musikk, sur] pertains to the general pronunciation, while [sukker, lukke, krukke] is pronounced with an [o].
Jack: It is virtually impossible to hear when the vowel has a changed sound. A good guess is when the hard double consonants follow but it’s not a general rule.


Filip: You have to learn each word individually when it comes to what we have studied in this lesson, but don’t worry about not getting every word at first.
Jack: Just listen again until you have our examples down. Then go out and find as many Norwegian words as possible and try to pronounce them correctly.
Filip: And that's going to do it for this lesson.
Jack: Yes, that's all for now.
Filip: Hadebra