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The Swedish R Posted by 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! 😉

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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. Pomor:

    Very, very informative article. I would like a similar discussion of the sound that is produced by the ”sk,” ”sh” and ”sj” combinations as well as ‘‘-tion’’

  2. John:

    Interesting…It would be fascinating if, some time, you could find some sound files with examples of some of the various Swedish dialects.

    …. john

  3. NeMe:

    Pomor, I subscribe to your request! I have quite a bit of trouble with reproducing that sound too.

  4. Pomor:

    NeMe, yes, I find the swedish ”sj” sound quite difficult to reproduce without help of a native. I have almost given up on my own and decided I am going to adopt a much easier version which is almost like the English ”sh” spoken in parts of Sweden (south of Stockholm, it seems, on Sweden’s east-central coast). If you listen to someone like Kajsa Ingemarsson (the host of Sweden’s Weakest Link and a popular author/radio presenter) she speaks with that type of accent. I am beginning to pick it up by listening to her audiobooks which she narrates herself

  5. Dave S:

    John – Here you go!

    http://swedia.ling.gu.se/ “100 svenska dialekter idag!”

  6. Allard:

    So which R do they use in Finlandssvensk? Is it like the Spanish double R maybe?

    • Steve:

      @Allard Since the Finnish language uses the flapped r (the one they use in Stockholm), they also use that r-sound when they speak Swedish. 😉