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NATLANG: Icelandic

From:Tim May <butsuri@...>
Date:Monday, December 6, 2004, 14:08
Tristan Mc Leay wrote at 2004-12-06 12:48:41 (+1100)
 > I just have a couple of questions about Icelandic, Finnish and English.
 > How is <v> pronounced in Icelandic? I gather that <kv> is
 > pronounced [kw], but listening to an Icelandic band with it seems
 > less than brilliant clarity (Sigur Rós), some other cases of <v>
 > seem to be [v], some [w] and some silent. (I suppose I shouldn't
 > complain too much---some cases of English <w> are [v], some [w],
 > others silent, and some participate in digraphs. But on the other
 > hand, all our <w>=[v] are borrowings.)

Well, I don't speak Icelandic, but here's what Stefán Einarsson[1] says
in _Icelandic: Grammar, Texts, Glossary_:

 | _v_: _v_ is a voiced short spirant [v], like English _v_ in _vat_,
 | _have_ (but less energetic): _vera_ [vE:ra] to be, _svara_ [sva:ra]
 | answer, _því_ [þvi:] therefore, _höggva_ [hög_0:va} hew, _sökkva_
 | [sö_hk:va] sink.  In _hvað_ (after _h_) _v_ sounds like [w_0], but
 | the combination _hv_ may also be pronounced _kv_ [k_hv] :
 | [k_hva:ð_v].
 |   _Note_: _v_ is lost (a) after _á_, _ó_: _sjávar_ [sjau:(v)ar_0]
 | of the sea, _sljóvan [sljou:an_v] acc. of _sljór_ [sljou:r_v] dull;
 | (b) in unstressed particles: _svo_ [sO:] so, _því_ [þi:] therefore.

Note that the IPA in the book is slightly unusual, and I may not have
been entirely succesful in translating it into CXS.  I've used the
voiced diacritic, [_v], to indicate "half-voiced consonants", which
are italicised in the text - I don't know what the proper way of
representing these is in the IPA.  "[þ]" is [T], of course, and I
think "[ö]" is [2].

Also note that this was written in the 1940s - I can't say how well it
corresponds to modern pronunciation.

[1]  Under other circumstances, I'd probably just say "Einarsson", but
     I don't know the convention for Icelandic names.