About phonetic notation

Seven symbols
As far as possible we use general English spelling (let's call it English notation) to show the Danish pronunciation. However, there are some cases where English notation is not enough, so we've used the following phonetic symbols:

  • [ə] is the neutral, unstressed sound like the i in pencil, the a in about, the o in harmony, and so forth
  • [ü] is the Danish y. It is pronounced like the ee in geese, but with the lips rounded like the oo in goose.
  • [ð] is the soft d, which has no English equivalent.
  • [ʁ] is the uvular r. It is produced in the back of the throat
  • [ʌ] is the short a in what
  • [ɛ] is the short e in pen, [ɛ:] is similar, but longer.
  • [ɔ] is the short o in stop
Approximated sounds

Some other sounds, like the Danish ø, have no English equivalents, so they are approximated with whatever notation works best. Ø is approximated as eu, other times as [ü]; å is sometimes aw, other times oh, and so on.

For example, listen to the å sound in these words: et lår (aw) and et låg (oh)

Long and short sounds

Sounds can be short or long, which makes them hard to distinguish using simple notation.

For example, the short i in et slips can only be shown by the long ee in sleeps. The short u in en bus can only be shown by the long oo in boos. Instead of using more phonetic symbols we use italics for short sounds: sleeps, boos.

  • en cigar = see-gah (see = short, gah = stressed)
  • et bageri = bae-ə-ʁee (ʁee = both short and stressed)