Norwegian Language Blog

Å uttale norske vokaler Posted by on Feb 15, 2009 in Language

To pronounce Norwegian vowels.  If all that people know about det norske språket (the Norwegian language) is the way that it sounds, they usually assume that it is a really difficult language to learn.  I must tell you that I strongly disagree.  Norwegian pronunciation usually proves to be the most difficult part of the language for beginners to learn, but if you know a few general rules, it’s not so bad.  Hvordan uttaler man norsk?  Voor-don ootaller mon norshhhhk? How does one pronouce Norwegian?

Norwegian vowels are the trickiest part of learning pronunciation.  For one, there are 3 vowels in the Norwegian language that English doesn’t even have: æ, ø, å– pronounced:  æ as in ‘cat’, ø said as if you were being punched in the stomach, and å, like ‘oh’ said as Minnesotan as possible.

In addition to æ, ø, and å, there are 5 more vowels: e, i, o, u, and you are probably wondering what the last is.  In Norwegian, the letter y is often considered a vowel.  Y på norsk (in Norwegian) is pronounced by rounding your lips into a small circle and trying to say ‘e’ as in weeee.  E på norsk is pronounced like a long ‘a’ or ‘eh’ like they say in Canada.  The exception to this rule is if the ‘e’ comes at the end of a word, it is pronounced like ‘a’ as in ‘a dog or a door’.  I på norsk is pronounced ‘e’ as in weeee, unless it is followed by double consonants like the verb å ligge (to lie) and then the i is pronounced like it is in the English word ‘pig.’  O is usually pronounced like oo as in ‘shoe’ except in rare circumstances like the word folk pronounced exactly how it looks (just like English, but the ‘l’ is pronounced, not silent).  Lastly, u på norsk is usually pronounced like the French pronounce the letter, which is extremely hard to describe.  The closest I can describe the pronunciation of the letter ‘u’ is like the word ‘ewww’ as in gross, but say it faster and sharper.

Another important thing to remember about vowels is that their pronunciation may change depending on what follows them in a word.  For example, in the verb å drømme (infinitive form of to dream), the vowel ø is short, but in the past tense (drømte), the vowel is long.  As a general rule, a vowel is long if it is only followed by one consonant and short if it is followed by double consonants.

How would you guess that the following sentence is pronounced?  På trappene ligger sko i en kø (On the stairs lie shoes in a line).

If you said ‘poe trahpp-inn-a liggehr skoo ee ehhn kuh’ or something to that effect you would be correct.

Work on those vowels and you will be just fine.

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About the Author: kari

I attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, where I majored in Norwegian and History. During college, I spent almost a year living in Oslo, Norway, where I attended the University of Oslo and completed an internship at the United States Embassy. I have worked for Concordia Language Villages as a pre-K Norwegian teacher and have taught an adult Norwegian language class. Right now, I keep up by writing this Norwegian blog for Transparent Language. Please read and share your thoughts! I will be continuing this blog from my future residence in the Norwegian arctic!


  1. yasbe:

    this is very helpful! I

  2. Nicolas:

    hur kan jeg unterscheiden uttala av norsk og dansk;

    s’il y a qqun qui veut m’envoyer des messages en norvegien et je repondrai
    en francais, italien, espagnol allemend, portugais ou anglais:

    texten in norwegisch ich werde in einer der obengennanten sprachen beantworten.

    teksten paa norsk/dansk eller svensk jeg skal proeve at besvara paa en
    av sprakets fransk, tysk, italienisk, spansk esv.

  3. Kari:

    Where are you from and how do you know so many languages? I can sort of remember French from high school and I want to learn Spanish, so I’ll try to understand your responses and respond back to you.

  4. Ted Shuve:

    I am looking for relatives of Sjue family from Vestfold County or Tonsberg.Please reply to or post on blog

  5. Nicolas:

    Je suis de Sarajevo mais je vive presentement au Canada, je veux bien me rendre aux pays scandinaves pour y perfectionner -apprendre -leurs langues – tous les trois – et de ce facon contribuer a l’unite et solidarite des gens de “petites” langues.

    Origen de Sarayevo, pero vivo actualmente en Canada, quisierai desplazarme en los paises
    scandinavos para aprender – mejorar – sus idiomas y de esta manera contribuir a la unidad
    y solidarid de los pueblos de “pequenyos”

    Ich stamme aus Sarajevo, aber schon 14 Jahre
    in Canada; da ich skandinawische Sprachen
    betraechtlich behersche, wuerde ich gerne nach Skandinawien umsiedeln um deren – alle
    3 – Sprachen besser zu erlernen und vervollkommnen und damit der Einheit und
    Verstaendigung der Voelker der “kleinen”
    Sprachen baizutragen;

    Originate from Sarajevo, currently 14 years in Canada, but interested in moving to Scandinavian coutries in order to improve
    knowledge of their languages – all 3 -and thereby contribute to the unity and comprehension of the peoples belonging to “small” languages.

    Sono da Sarajevo ma da 14 anni in Canada; con una moderata conoscenza delle lingue
    scandinave, ci sono disposto ad impararle e
    amegliorarele – tutte le 3 – e di questo modo fare una piccola contribuzione all’a unita e
    solidarieta dei popoli con le “piccole” lingue.

  6. Ted Shuve:

    A very interesting fact about Noprwegian naming practices in the early 1900’s. It was quit common for someone totake the name of a farm which they owned. Example; My grandfather was born in Boen and his family name was Boen, when he married my grandmother he bought a farm in Sjue and changed his family name to Sjue his brother Hans Andrissen Boen took over the family farm in Boen at Hoyjord..You can find a copy of the Norwegian naming practices on the internet under Norwegian naming practices.


  7. Jennifer:

    I am a volunteer reader, and I would like to understand the pronunciation of Norske…the final e: i.e., do I pronounce it (as in norse-kuh)?

    Thank you.


  8. Ian Karlsen:

    Wouldn’t Norsk be pronousnced “nawSH”