The aforementioned languages form a certain language union, although they belong to different language families and even branches.

The languages in question are all the Scandinavic languages (Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Faroese, Icelandic) plus Finnish and Estonian.

The phonetic phenomenon in question concerns vowel-initial words with a glottal stop preceding a vowel in an initial syllable.

The glottal stop is a sound occurring in vowel-initial words in some languages of the area which I hear as a glottal stop (similar to Arabic Ayn as pronounced in Saudi Arabic dialect).

In some isolated Swedish words the initial glottal stop is sometimes perceivable, and sometimes not.

The Danish glottal stop is likely to be an entirely different phenomenon.

In Seto and Võro, until recently regarded as dialects of Estonian, a glottal stop corresponding to Finnish Nom. Pl. marker -t (Estonian -d) is rendered with a letter q. That sound, however, (always?) takes a word-final position.

A glottal stop is sometimes perceived and articulated, and sometimes not, in Finnish vowel-initial words.

Are there any resources / researches regarding initial glottal stop in Norwegian and Faroese languages?

Does Swedish initial glottal stop really exist (as that is the case with German and, to some extent, in Dutch)?

Is there a similar phenomenon in Icelandic?

  • As your WP link says, Finnish is not normally described as a 'Scandinavian language'. Sep 9, 2013 at 2:40
  • Are you talking about phonetic glottal stop or phonemic? Phonetic glottal stops on vowel-initial words (espec when utterance-initial) is very common in all languages that allow vowel-initial words. Sep 9, 2013 at 2:44
  • 1) pls see the structure of the sentence (which does not presuppose Finnish is a 'Scandinavian language'; 2) what do you call 'phonetic' and 'phonemic'? I am talking about any glottal stop which can be perceived by a hearer and recorded with IPA.
    – Manjusri
    Sep 9, 2013 at 3:15
  • Sorry, you're right re 'Scandinavian languages', I guess I read too quickly and missed the closing parenthesis! Sep 9, 2013 at 4:21
  • Re phonetic/phonemic, I mean the standard usage of those in linguistics. Phonetic glottal stops on vowel-initial words is a very common phenomenon. I think Icelandic is the only Scandinavian language that definitely has phonemic glottal stop (well, Danish has stød). So when you ask 'does Swedish initial glottal stop really exist...' I'm sure it does phonetically, but I'm not sure about phonemic glottal stop. Sep 9, 2013 at 4:30

1 Answer 1


In Norwegian, this is the case (I think): - A glottal stop may be used for some vowel-initial words. But it is merely a question of style. A famous dialect-phrase from the southern part of Norway; "Æ e a å eder". This can be pronounced both without any glottal stops, as well as with five glottal stops, one before each vowel. The glottal stops are typically included for the ease of understanding. - I don't think glottal stops in vowel-initial words are used phonemically at all in Norwegian.

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