Stød

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A map showing the distribution of stød in Danish dialects. Dialects in the pink areas have stød, as in standard Danish, while those in the green ones have tones, as in Swedish and Norwegian. Dialects in the blue areas have (like Icelandic, German and English) neither stød nor tones.

Stød (Danish pronunciation: [sd̥øð̞]) is a suprasegmental unit of Danish phonology, which in its most common form is a kind of creaky voice (laryngealization), but may also be realized as a glottal stop, above all in emphatic pronunciation. Some dialects of Southern Danish realize stød in a way which is more similar to the tonal word accents of Norwegian and Swedish, and in much of Zealand it is regularly realized as something reminiscent of a glottal stop. A probably unrelated glottal stop with quite different distribution rules, occurring in Western Jutland, is known as the 'vestjysk stød' ("West Jutland stød"). Because Dania, the phonetic alphabet based on the International Phonetic Alphabet designed specifically for Danish, uses the IPA character for a glottal stop to transcribe stød, the feature is frequently mistaken to be a consonant rather than a prosodic feature.

The origin of stød is the number of syllables in Old Norse, just as the word accents of Swedish and Norwegian: original monosyllables (not counting the definite article) received the stød, while words of two or more syllables did not. This is why hund ("dog"), hunden ("the dog") and finger ("finger"; Old Norse fingr in one syllable) have the stød in modern Danish, while hunde ("dogs"), hundene ("the dogs") and fingre ("fingers") do not.

In most dialects, stød can occur only in syllables that are stressed, long and end in a voiced sound. Given the phonology of Danish, this means that only syllables ending in a long vowel, a diphthong (i.e., vowel + /r, j, v/) or one of the consonant phonemes /m, n, ŋ, l, ð/ can take the stød. This is different from Swedish and Norwegian where all words of two or more syllables can take either of the two tones, while monosyllables cannot. Therefore Swedish, and most Norwegian dialects, cannot make the Danish distinction between hun ('she', no stød) and hund ('dog', stød), while Danish does not show any stød in some words where Swedish and Norwegian show a tone difference, such as hatten ("the hat") with one tone and hatte ("hats") with the other tone.

The Latvian and Latgalian languages exhibit a similar phenomenon, known as "broken tone" (Latvian: lauztā intonācija, latg. lauztuo intonaceja, as does Livonian, an extinct Finnic language once spoken in Latvia.

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