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Lesson Transcript

Anna: Hi everyone! Anna here!
Becky: And I’m Becky! Welcome back to DanishClass101.com. This is Pronunciation lesson 3: Stress and Stød in the Danish Language. In the last two lessons, you learned how to pronounce the native consonants of Danish and their compounds, single vowels plus the diphthongs that make up the Danish language.

Lesson focus

Anna: That’s right, we covered a lot! And in this lesson, we’re going to talk about the Danish stød and stress.
Becky: First, we would like to introduce the concept of stress.
Anna: Stress is phonetic and it helps distinguish between words that would sound the same if not for the stress.
Becky: Stress emphasizes certain syllables in a word, but its position depends on the word’s origin, prefixes and suffixes, and the word’s position in a sentence. Let’s go through the list of main rules or guidelines for positioning the stress. Be sure to read the lesson notes for some examples.
Anna: So the first rule is to position the stress on the first syllable in inherited words. The second rule is to position the stress on the last syllable in words of French origin, with the exception of the vowel sound "ə" or schwa.
Becky: The third rule is to position the stress on the penultimate - second to last - if it is long, or otherwise on the antepenultimate - third to last - in words of Greek or Latin origin. The position of the stress basically follows the Latin accent rules.
Anna: The fourth rule is to keep the prefixes be-, for-, and ge- unstressed because of their German origin. The prefix u- is also unstressed.
Becky: The fifth rule is...
Anna: To keep the learned suffixes -aner, -ansk, -ance, -ans, -ens, -ant, -ent, -ere, -i, -ik, -ion, -itet, and -ør stressed. The preceding syllable before the learned suffixes -isk, -iker, and -or is also stressed.
Becky: Please note that the suffix -or is stressed when a word containing it is in its plural form. The sixth rule is...
Anna: To replace the stress from the first to the second syllable in many compound adjectives, especially those ending in -ig and -lig.
Becky: And the seventh and last rule is to lose the stress in verbs when they’re in certain positions. When a verb is with an object without a definite or indefinite article, it loses its stress. The verb also loses its stress when it is in a fixed phrase with an adverb or an adverbial.
Anna: Finally, the verb loses its stress when it comes before direction adverbs as these: "hen," go to, and over "hjem," home, "ind," in, "nedad," downwards, "op," up, "opad," upwards and "ud," out.
Becky: Exactly. But please note that the verb doesn’t lose its stress when it’s before the location adverbs...
Anna: "henne," over by "inde," inside "nede," below "oppe," up "ovre," over and "ude" out.
Becky: Phew, this all seems like a lot to remember!
Anna: Yes, it is to begin with, but once you get more used to listening to Danish, you will be able to hear whether a stress should be present or not, and more importantly where.
Becky: I guess practice makes perfect, huh? Let’s move on to the Danish stød.
Anna: Yes, the Danish stød depends a bit on the dialect, but usually it takes the form of a glottal stop and is a very important unit of Danish phonology used to keep words apart just like the stress.
Becky: The stød can be seen as a forced stop of the sound and it is done by closing the vocal cords. So like in the cockney English pronunciation of the word "butter". Anna: Or the german word "beachten". The stød is especially needed when you’re distinguishing between words that have the same spelling but different pronunciations. For example anden "the duck" vs anden "second" tænder "turn on" vs tænder "teeth" and løber "running" vs løber "runner".
Becky: The stød may accompany syllables with a long vowel, or syllables that end with a voiced consonant.
Anna: That’s right. But like in any language, there are things that just have to be learned, and in Danish the stød is one of those things. It is not possible to predict whether or not it is present.
Becky: There are some helpful main rules or guidelines though. The first rule is...
Anna: Words of Greek or Latin origin have the stød on a stressed third to last syllable or a stressed last syllable. A stressed second to last syllable has the stød if the word ends in -er.
Becky: The next rule is...
Anna: Original monosyllabic words have stød. Words that ended in consonant plus "r," "l," or "n" in Old Danish have the stød even though a vowel has later been added.
Becky: The postposed definite article, which has become an inseparable part of the word, does not influence the word. Our next rule is...
Anna: All plurals that end in -er with a vowel before the -er have the stød.
Becky: The next rule is...
Anna: Most present tense forms of strong verbs have the stød.
Becky: Yes, many of the present tense forms of verbs with a preterite in the -te form have the stød as well.
Anna: That’s right, but not the present tense forms of verbs with a preterite in -ede.
Becky: The next rule is...
Anna: Monosyllabic words that originally ended in a short vowel plus a single "n," "r," "l," "v," "ð," or "g" do not have the stød. However, when the definite suffix is added, the stød "returns."
Becky: Our next rule is...
Anna: The stød is frequently avoided in words with the letter combinations "rp," "rt," "rk," and "rs."
Becky: The next rule is...
Anna: Most non-derived words that end in -el and -er have the stød. Most words that end in -en do not have the stød and agent nouns that end in -er do not have the stød either.
Becky: Are you still with us listeners? Remember, you can read the lesson notes as you listen. Let’s move on to the next rule.
Anna: All words with the unstressed prefixes be-, for-, and ge- of German origin have the stød.
Becky: The next rule is...
Anna: There is stød in most compounds when the stress moves from the first to the second syllable.
Becky: Okay - got it! We’re almost at the end now, listeners. What’s the next rule?
Anna: Stød frequently appears in the second part of compound verbs.
Becky: And now for the last rule. Monosyllables regularly lose the stød when they are the first part of a compound. The vowel is also sometimes shortened. And there you have it! That’s all for this lesson.
Anna: Make sure you take a good look at the lesson notes, because they will help you remember what you’ve learned with us.


Becky: We’ll see you again in the next lesson about regional variation of Danish pronunciation.
Anna: Hej hej!


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DanishClass101.com Verified
Tuesday at 06:30 PM
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Hello Listeners! Are you familiar with Danish stress and accent? Is it similar to yours? 

Team DanishClass101.com
Tuesday at 05:18 AM
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Hi Erica,

Thank you very much for commenting and giving us some feedback.

Yes, this is another one of those packed lessons that could have been divided into two at least, but as you have already guessed, the series would have been too long.

I do hope that our listeners' feedback will cause a second season in the near future so everything can be further explained, and there will be more examples.

Until then, I'll try to keep a lookout for more useful videos for you guys.

If you have any questions, please let us know.

Mange tak!


Team DanishClass101.com

Sunday at 10:01 AM
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I agree with Russ. The video clips Amalie linked are really helpful.

I feel like a broken record on this series, but I wish there was an audio track reading the examples from the notes. It's one thing for me to look at them, but I feel like it's hard to understand just by reading. What I'd find really useful in a pronunciation series are a lot of Danish examples, particularly next to each other so I could try to hear contrasts. (So, for example, similar words with or without the stød so I can practice hearing the difference). It would also be really great to see multiple examples for each rule, at least in the notes. When there are only one or two examples for each rule, it's hard to know that I've identified the right stuff to pay attention to.

Maybe the idea was to try to keep the series on pronunciation from seeming too long, but I also really think it could be slowed way down. For example, stress and stød could each be their own episode, which would help make it feel less like the whole thing is flashing by and maybe give more time for examples. And I honestly wouldn't mind if each rule was its own brief episode. I know that would be something like seven episodes on stød, but most of the other lessons on this site (that I've experienced so far) feel broken into very bite-sized pieces, so the density of this one is really surprising.

Anyway, I feel like I'm being really hard on this series so far—I do appreciate the idea of a pronunciation series, and there's obviously a lot of good information packed into these lessons! I wish there were many more examples given, both in the notes and in audio tracks, so I could benefit from that information more.

Team DanishClass101.com
Tuesday at 02:32 AM
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Det var så lidt, Russ.

I'm glad you found them helpful.

Monday at 05:56 PM
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The clips are helpful.

Tusind tak Amalie.

Hej hej.

Team DanishClass101.com
Monday at 04:19 PM
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Hi Russ,

Thank you for commenting.

Yes, this is another quite heavy pronunciation lesson and you are absolutely right. The information IS just something that you as a listener must get a "feel" for. Let me provide you with a few more examples:

Tændʔer ("teeth") vs. tænder ("to light" in present tense)

Andʔen ("the duck") vs. anden ("other")

Mand ("man") vs. man ("you/one")

Løʔber ("to run" in present tense) vs. løber ("runner")

If you'd like to practice and test yourself, you can check out these videos:



They are both in Danish only, but basically the guy reads a list of Danish words and will ask you to pause the video before he underlines the words that have stød.

If you have any questions, please let us know.

Thank you!


Team DanishClass101.com

Sunday at 08:37 PM
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You should have started this lesson with, "Just putting this out there ..."

Whew! Another tough one full of grammatical terms. I understand that most of this information is just something that the listener (and eventual speaker) must get a "feel" for. I think a few more examples sprinkled throughout the lesson would be helpful particularly in the case of the stød. Stress is understood in any language (I think) but the stød is a new and unfamiliar element.

Thanks for providing the information so this it can be referenced if needed in the future though!