Pronouncing the Norwegian O

The standard pronunciation, and thus the name, of the letter o in Norwegian is different from that of most other languages. In English, the pronunciation of this letter varies, but it is [əʊ] when isolated, whereas in the Romance languages, the pronunciation is usually [o]. In Norwegian, however, the standard pronunciation of the letter o is [uː]. Listen to it here. Similar to the English <oo> in tool. It retains this pronunciation ([uː]) in words such as stor, fot, bok, snok and kvote. (Listen to stor, fot and kvote)

A Norwegian vowel is most often short when in front of a double consonant. The letter o is usually pronounced [ɔ] when it is short. Examples include flott, lokk, sokker, hoppe, kort and norsk. (Listen to flottlokk and norsk). There are exceptions to this rule, in which the o is pronounced [u] when short: fort, morsom [‘muʂɔm]. (Listen to morsom)

There are even a few words in which the o is pronounced [oː]! This long vowel phoneme is usually written with the Norwegian letter å, but in the words tog, sove, love and hoven the o is a long [o:]. (Listen to tog and sove)

Listen to these minimal pairs. Although they look similar when written they are pronounced differently.
(click the link to listen to the words)

bok – nok – amok
[uː] – [ɔ] – [u]

stor – for – hvor
[uː] – [ɔ] – [u]

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