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The Alphabet of the Icelandic Language

The Alphabet

The Icelandic alphabet has 32 letters. Twenty two of them are conventional Latin alphabet letters; Aa, Bb, Dd, Ee, Ff, Gg, Hh, Ii, Jj, Kk, Ll, Mm, Nn, Oo, Pp, Rr, Ss, Tt, Uu, Vv, Xx, Yy. (All of the letters of the English alphabet except Cc, Qq, and Ww.) Icelandic also has the letters Þþ and Ð,ð, which were once also part of the English alphabet. In addition the Icelandic also has the superscripted letters Áá, Éé, Íí, Óó, Úú, Ýý and Öö. These are letters in their own right and not just phonetic modifications of the superscripted letter. In addition to the above there is the ligature combining a and e, æ. It is also a separate letter on its own.

In addition to letters denoting phonemes there are combinations of letters which denote sounds completely unrelated to the sounds of the letters which make them up. These are two letter combinations and are called diagraphs. For example, in English thare the diagraphs, th, ch, sh and qu. In Icelandic æ and hv are diagraphs. The superscripted letters of the Icelandic alphabet are in the nature of diagraphs.

Pronunciation of Icelandic Letters and Diagraphs

The Pronunciation of the Letters
and Diagraphs of the Icelandic
Language Representing Vowels
Letter
or diagraph
Sounds like
in English Word
aa in father
ee in bet
ii in hit
oaw in paw
ui in bid
with rounded
lips
yi in bin
Superscripted letters
áow in town
éye in yes
íee in beet
óoh in Oh!
úu in rude
ýee in beet
öi in bird
with rounded
lips
Diagraphs
æi in pride
eia in same
eya in same
aui in bird
with rounded
lips

The Pronunciation of the Letters
and Diagraphs of the Icelandic Language
Representing Consonants
Letter
or diagraph
Sounds like
in English Word
bb in bet
dd in debt
ðth in then
ff in fine
hh in her
jy in yet
ll in like
mm in mom
rr in brr
(trilled)
vv in vain
xx in hex
þth in thorn
hvkv

Syllable-Position-Dependent
Pronunciation of the Letter of the Icelandic
Language Representing Consonants
SymbolBeginingMiddle between
vowels or at end
Middle before t or s
g g in gatech in Scottish lochch in Scottish loch
kk in kiteg in gatech in Scottish loch
pp in payb in bet
tt in taked in day

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