The Swedish R Posted by Stephen Maconi on Nov 7, 2011 in Geography
One thing you’ll notice while traveling around Sweden (and Swedish-speaking parts of Finland) is its myriad of different dialects. Each of these dialects has its own name, for example stockholmska (Stockholm dialect), norrländska (Norrland dialect), and finlandssvenska (Finland Swedish), to name a few. These dialects vary in many aspects, but one particular sound that distinguishes different dialects is the r-sound. You will notice that from south to north, the letter R will be articulated more and more.
In most of Sweden, it is pronounced as an alveolar flap [ɾ], similar to the Spanish R, however not trilled. (Though in general the Spanish R is only trilled when it’s doubled. If you’re interested in Spanish, feel free to browse to the Transparent Spanish Blog!) This is the r-sound that they use in Stockholm, Uppsala, and Gothenburg, for example.
The southernmost dialects in Sweden pronounce their R’s nearer the throat, with a voiced uvular fricative [ʁ]. This sound is similar to the German or French R. Places such as Malmö, Lund, and Karlskrona use this type or r-sound.
Finally, in the north of the north, you’ll find that the r-sound is often pronounced as an alveolar trill [r]. This is the same as the Spanish trilled R. You are likely to find people who use this pronunciation in cities such as Kiruna, Luleå, and Haparanda.
All the dialects in between these areas vary quite a bit, but typically the pronunciation of the letter R moves further forward in the mouth as you go from Skåne up to Norrland.
Hope our linguist readers found this interesting! 😉