This visit to Sweden I’ve decided that rather than throwing my hands up in stunned amazement at the variety of sounds in the Swedish language, I will make some effort to understand them (it only took eight years for me to come to this!).

Yesterday’s revelation was that the letter k has two distinct pronounciations, which seems freaky to an English speaker.

I’ve been reading the signs in front of churches – kyrka – and saying (in my head), something like kirk-ah.

I have been wrong.

Kyrka is pronounced more like sheer-ka because the first k is pronounced “like ch in check, but without the initial t sound” when it comes before a “soft vowel” like y, and the second k is pronounced as one might in English.

As it is in kaffe (for “coffee”), which is pronounced as you think it might be: calf-eh.

All of which means that the Swedish for “church coffee,” which is kyrkkaffe, and which has a stunning number of ks, sounds something like sheer-calf-eh.

What wonders will I find today?

Thanks to Olle for turning me on to k’s wonders.


Oliver's picture
Oliver on October 22, 2013 - 15:23

I had a (false) epiphany once that the words in other languages are te same as in English and the sole object to comprehension was the spelling. Like of course the k that begins kyrka makes the sound “ch” as in “church.”

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on October 23, 2013 - 12:32

Things go off the rails, for your theory and for my seemingly newfound grasp, as soon as you cross the brdige to Denmark and then “chicken” becomes “kylling”, pronounced ku-ling.

Add new comment