Musa for Swedish
Musa för svenska

Swedish is interesting for several odd features:

On top of its unusual phonology, Swedish also has odd orthography, the result of phonological processes, historical sound changes and the insufficiencies of the Roman alphabet. This makes it a good candidate for Musa.


pojke tand katta
sparrisknopp start bort skick
barn dag bord gata
fader kjol dusch sjuk
sand land Karl
vagn jord hand
man natt barn våning
rang port r (Skåna)

The aspirated letters in the top row are used at the beginning of stressed syllables, as in English. The retroflex letters in the third column are used to show that the -r sound combines with a following consonant.

The unusual sj-ljud, IPA ɧ, is written in Musa in two different ways: as a velar sound with labiodental frication (and a protruded upper lip) at the beginning of stressed syllables, and as a retroflex sibilant otherwise. Meanwhile, the tj-ljud, IPA ɕ, is written as an alveolo-palatal sibilant.

The initial r also has two different letters. At the beginning of stressed syllables, it's a normal alveolar trill, although in Skåna (the southern part of Sweden, which used to be Danish), it's pronounced as a guttural r like in Danish. Otherwise, it's pronounced as a retroflex approximant and colors the adjacent vowels.

Most of these consonants can be geminated, in which case they're simply written twice.


   
sill sil syll syl full ful bott bot
  
hetta hel nött nöt be moll mål
 
häll häl matt mat

There are two contrasting front close rounded long vowels, differing mostly in whether the rounding is protruded or compressed. Front y is unusually protruded, which we write with a w offglide. Front u is the normal one, written with a yw offglide which becomes a Long mark. But the short u is lowered without being lax.

The low vowels are lowered when followed by an r or a retroflex consonant, but Musa doesn't write that.

The begå vowel replaces the hetta and hel vowels in unstressed syllables, at least in some dialects. Other vowels may also be reduced when unstressed.


Like English or German, Swedish distinguishes stressed and unstressed syllables : stressed syllables are pronounced longer, louder and with a pitch fall. Unlike English and German, Swedish can have two stressed syllables in a single word. When this happens, one of the two has a pitch rise instead of a fall ... but which one depends on the dialect.

Musa doesn't write these tonal word accents. However, Musa does write the two stressed vowels high :

 
the duck
the spirit


Now that you've learned the letters, why don't you try reading a sentence?

Envar sin egen lyckas smed

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