Swedish Language Blog

The letter å Posted by on Jan 31, 2012 in Swedish Language

Last week I clarified where the Swedish letters ä and ö come from, but to you the origin of the letter å is still a mystery. And here I am to clear it up!

In 1526, a new time period known in Swedish linguistics as Nysvenska perioden began with the first ever Swedish translation of the New Testament of the Christian Holy Bible. This was an incredible development, since before this time the Bible was only available in Latin, which only the higher social/economic classes could read; this made the content of the New Testament available to all of Swedish-reading Sweden and Finland.

With this publication, the long a sound, which was previously written aa (although orthography varied immensely during this time), was now changed to å, after having shifted through several stages: first aa, then an a with another, smaller a over it, and finally an a with a simple ring over it (å).

But why did the Swedish written language need the letter å when it already had o, which in most Indo-European languages is pronounced similarly? Welcome back soon! 🙂

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About the Author: Stephen Maconi

Stephen Maconi has been writing for the Transparent Swedish Blog since 2010. Wielding a Bachelor's Degree in Swedish and Nordic Linguistics from Uppsala University in Sweden, Stephen is an expert on Swedish language and culture.


  1. Efrutik:

    Look forward to the next post! Always wondered about this…do you think you could also include a clp wtih pronounciation for references?