This is a guide to transcriptions of Swedish words. It's based mainly on Standard Swedish with focus on the variants spoken in and around Stockholm, which is the standard taught to foreign students and generally considered the most prestigious and neutral. All pronunciations are made by a 25-year-old male speaking a reasonably colloquial form of Central Standard Swedish particular to the greater Stockholm region.
/p, t, k/invalid IPA characters (,,) are all aspirated and pronounced almost identical to the equivalent English sounds. /b, d, ɡ/invalid IPA characters (,,) are distinctly voiced, more so than the English equivalents of most dialects.
/ɧ/ (skjuta, fascist, garage) represents the “sje-sound”, which also varies considerably, not just dialectally, but also individually and depending on where it occurs in a word. /ɕ/ represents the “tje-sound” (tjata, kisa, chips) which is much less varied, but which can alternate with /ɧ/ in some words (charter, chans, match).
The pronunciation of /r/ varies considerably in various parts of Sweden. Everything from more guttural fricatives and trills in Southern Sweden to more forward taps and approximants in Central and Northern Sweden. Please note that rolled forward /r/ is today uncommon in colloquial speech, especially in the kind of Standard Swedish spoken in broadcast media. It is mostly reserved for articulate or formal speech.
In most dialects /s, t, d, n, l/invalid IPA characters (,,,,) merge with /r/ into retroflexassimilations[ʂ, ɖ, ʈ, ɳ, ɭ]invalid IPA characters (,,,,). These are transcribed /rs, rd, rt, rn, rl/invalid IPA characters (,,,,).
Swedish has two contrastive lexical pitch accents on stressed syllables, which are marked in dictionaries as ’ for Accent 1 and ‘ for Accent 2. Monosyllabic words can only have Accent 1. The tonal realization of the accent differs based on word position and pragmatic focus, and has regional variation across Swedish dialects.
Accent 1: /ˈ/
e.g. /ˈandɛn/ for anden as nominative definite singular of and (“duck”)
Accent 2: /ˈˌ/
e.g. /ˈanˌdɛn/ for anden as nominative definite singular of ande (“spirit”)
Sample of Central Swedish pronunciation of the two accents
Nordanvinden och solen tvistade en gång om vem av dom som var starkast. Just då kom en vandrare vägen fram insvept i en varm kappa. Dom kom då överens om att den som först kunde få vandraren att ta av sej kappan, han skulle anses vara starkare än den andra. Då blåste nordanvinden så hårt han nånsin kunde, men ju hårdare han blåste desto tätare svepte vandraren kappan om sej, och till slut gav nordanvinden upp försöket. Då lät solen sina strålar skina helt varmt och genast tog vandraren av sej kappan och så var nordanvinden tvungen att erkänna att solen var den starkaste av dom två.