by Erik Wilhelm Gren
The Swedish alphabet contains three letters that are not present in the English alphabet. These letters are Åå, Ää and Öö.
I’ve noticed that many people, understandably, see these letters as just “An A with a dot” and “An O with two dots”. However, I think this is not a very useful way of thinking about them. I mean, do you see B as “A P with a bow”? or A Q as “An O with a tail”?
Native Swedish speakers have usually never even had the thought that Ö is just an O with two dots. Rather, Ö is just seen as its own character, just like any else. In pre-school, children are taught all the letters individually and Å, Ä and Ö are simply not fundamentally different from the rest.
The pronunciation of these three letters is also very distinctly different from the pronunciation of A and O, but I will write more about this in the next chapter about pronunciation. To summarize, don’t think of any character as “special” or “different from the others” because I believe this will bring more problems to you as a learner than solutions.
I have many times noticed that when the Swedish alphabet is layed out, the W is missing. It’s fairly understandable given that there is no Swedish words including the letter W. However, many Swedish names do actually include the letter W. For example, my very own middle-name: Erik Wilhelm Gren. Other names include: Wilma, William, Wictoria, Wilhelmuia, Waldemar, Walter, Wictor and many more.
Given this, I think it’s necessary to include W in the Swedish alphabet.
In the next article I will go over how to pronounce all the letters of the alphabet and also how to, basically, pronounce every single sound in the Swedish language. The article will be very long and I recommend you to only focus on the alphabet and its pronunciation if you’re just beginning to learn Swedish.
If you are an intermediate or advanced learner, the next article will be very interesting to you. It will include lots of detailed information to really dig deep into the phonetics of Swedish.