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pronounciation
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useful sigur rós phrases with english spelling

it is now possible to hear how some of these words are said. georg holm kindly agreed to let us record him saying them, and you can download the (small) mp3s and practice til your heart's content. all 'r's are of course rolled.

  • sigur rós si-ur rose (the i is like the i in "hit". "rose" is said very quickly)
  • georg holm ge-OR-CH (with the "ch" sounding similar to the ch in the scottish "loch")
  • kjartan sveinsson kyartan sveyn-son
  • jón þór birgisson yeown thor (o like in "sole") birgisson
  • orri páll dýrason orri pow-ll dee-rah-son (ll like "ttl" in "settle" but not with hard "t" sound (like "dl"))
  • ágætis byrjun OW-guy-tis bi-r-yun (u is like the "eu" in "deux". ow should rhyme with the "ou" from "loud".)
  • svefn-g-englar svebn-gay-n-glar (the last two parts are joined together quickly, sounding like 'svebn-genglar')
  • viðrar vel til loftárása vitherah-r vel-h til loft-ow-row-sah (ow and row should rhyme with the "ou" from "loud")
  • starálfur star-owl-vur (u is like the "eu" in "deux")
  • hjartað hamast hee-yart-ath hamast

general icelandic pronunciation guide

vowels

  • a (short) as in "man" (british accent)
  • a (long) as in "father"
  • a (followed by "ng" or "nk") like "ou" in "house"
  • á like "ou" in "house"
  • e (short) as in "met"
  • e (long) like "ea" in "bear"
  • é like "ye" in "yet"
  • i (short) as in "hit"
  • i (long) as in "hit" but lengthened
  • i (followed by "ng" or "nk") like "ee" in "seen", but shorter
  • í like "ee" in "seen"
  • o (short) as in "not"
  • o (long) like "aw" in "saw"
  • ó like "o" in "sole"
  • u (short) like "eu" in french "deux"
  • u (long) sounds same as short but lengthened
  • u (followed by "ng" or "nk") like "oo" in "moon", but shorter
  • ú like "oo" in "moon"
  • y sounds same as icelandic "i" or "í"
  • ý sounds same as icelandic "i" or "í"
  • æ like "i" in "mile"
  • ö (short) is similar to german "ö" like "ur" in "urgent" but shorter
  • ö (long) like "ur" in "urgent"
  • au like the vowel in french "feuille", similar to "oy" in "boy"
  • ei like "ay" in "day"
  • ey like "ay" in "day"

note that all icelandic vowels can be long or short. they are normally pronounced long when followed by (1) a single consonant or (2) the consonant combinations {p, t, k} + {r, j, v} (for instance pr, tr, kj). they are normally pronounced short if followed by a double consonant or a consonant combination other than the ones mentioned above.

consonants

  • b same as in english, but not strongly voiced eg bað
  • d same as in english, but not strongly voiced eg dóttir
  • f (1) at beginning of a word is same as in english eg fara
  • f (2) in the middle or at the end of a word like english "v" eg hafa
  • f (3) before "l" or "n" like english "b" eg gafl, nafn
  • g (1) at beginning of a word as in "good" eg góður
  • g (2) after a vowel, unless followed by "i" or "j", like German g in "sagen" eg saga, sagði
  • g (3) after a vowel and followed by "i" or "j" like "y" in "yet" eg magi, segja
  • h same as in english eg ha
  • hv like "qu" in "quick" eg hvað
  • j like "y" in "yes" eg
  • k same as in english eg kaup
  • kk is preceded by a pre-aspiration eg ekkert (ehh-kert)
  • kl is also preceded by a pre-aspiration eg afklæða
  • kn is also preceded by a pre-aspiration eg aðsókn
  • l same as in english eg laun
  • ll like "ttl" in "settle" but not with hard "t" sound (like "dl") eg sæll
  • m same as in english eg með
  • n same as in english eg nei
  • nn (1) after "á", "í", "ó", "ú", "ý", "æ", "au", "ei", or "ey" like "dn" eg steinn
  • nn (2) after all other vowels and in the suffixed definate article sounds like "nn" in english eg finna
  • p same as in english except when before "s", "k", or "t" where it then in combination sounds like "f" eg skips, dýpka, dýpt
  • pp is preceded by a pre-aspiration eg sloppur
  • pl is also preceded by a pre-aspiration eg depla
  • pn is also preceded by a pre-aspiration eg opna
  • r like in english only trilled eg far
  • rl like Icelandic "ll" above eg karl
  • rn like Icelandic "nn" above eg barn
  • s as in "mouse" eg mús
  • t same as in english eg takk
  • tt is preceded by a pre-aspiration eg hætta
  • tl is also preceded by a pre-aspiration eg betla
  • tn is also preceded by a pre-aspiration eg batna
  • v same as in english eg við
  • x same as in english eg buxur
  • z like "s" in "sun" eg verzlun
  • þ like "th" in "thin" eg þunnur
  • ð like "th" in "breathe" is never found at beginning of word eg staða

accent

the accent of icelandic words falls in almost all cases on the first syllable. the exceptions are

  1. words that have the negative prefix "ó-" meaning "un-" as in "unwilling" eg óhreinindi
  2. words that have the prefix "all-" meaning "rather" or "very" eg allfeginn

in these two cases, the accent falls equally on the first two syllables or mainly on the second syllable.