Faroese orthography

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Faroese orthography is the method employed to write the Faroese language, using a 29-letter Latin alphabet.

Alphabet[edit]

The Faroese alphabet consists of 29 letters derived from the Latin script:

Majuscule forms (also called uppercase or capital letters)
A Á B D Ð E F G H I Í J K L M N O Ó P R S T U Ú V Y Ý Æ Ø
Minuscule forms (also called lowercase or small letters)
a á b d ð e f g h i í j k l m n o ó p r s t u ú v y ý æ ø
  • Eth ð (Faroese edd) never appears at the beginning of a word, which means its majuscule form, Ð rarely occurs except in situations where all-capital letters are used, such as on maps.
  • Ø can also be written ö in poetic language, such as Föroyar ('the Faroes'). This has to do with different orthographic traditions (Norwegian-Danish for ø and Swedish-Icelandic for ö. Originally, both forms were used, depending on the historical form of the word; ö was used when the vowel resulted from I-mutation of o while ø was used when the vowel resulted from U-mutation of a. In handwriting, ő is sometimes used.
  • While c, q, w, x, and z are not found in the Faroese language, x was known in earlier versions of Hammershaimb's orthography, such as Saxun for Saksun.
  • While the Faroese keyboard layout allows one to write in Latin, English, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, etc., the Old Norse and Modern Icelandic letter þ is missing. In related Faroese words, it is written as either t or h. If an Icelandic name has to be transcribed, th is common.

Spelling system[edit]

An example of Faroese ő
Vowels
Grapheme Name Short Long
A, a fyrra a [ˈfɪʐːa ɛaː] ("leading a") /a/ /ɛaː/
Á, á á [ɔaː] /ɔ/ /ɔaː/
E, e e [eː] /ɛ/ /eː/
I, i fyrra i [ˈfɪʐːa iː] ("leading i") /ɪ/ /iː/
Í, í fyrra í [ˈfɪʐːa ʊiː] ("leading í") /ʊi/ /ʊiː/
O, o o [oː] /ɔ/ /oː/
Ó, ó ó [ɔuː] /œ/ /ɔuː/
U, u u [uː] /ʊ/ /uː/
Ú, ú ú [ʉuː] /ʏ/ /ʉuː/
Y, y seinna i [ˈsaiːdna iː] ("latter i") /ɪ/ /iː/
Ý, ý seinna í [ˈsaiːdna ʊiː] ("latter í") /ʊi/ /ʊiː/
Æ, æ seinna a [ˈsaiːdna ɛaː] ("latter a") /a/ /ɛaː/
Ø, ø ø [øː] /œ/ /øː/
EI, ei ei [aiː] /ai/ /aiː/
EY, ey ey [eɪː] /ɛ/ /ɛiː/
OY, oy oy [oɪː] /ɔi/ /ɔiː/

Glide insertion[edit]

Faroese avoids having a hiatus between two vowels by inserting a glide. Orthographically, this is shown in three ways:

  1. vowel + ð + vowel
  2. vowel + g + vowel
  3. vowel + vowel

Typically, the first vowel is long and in words with two syllables always stressed, while the second vowel is short and unstressed. In Faroese, short and unstressed vowels can only be /a/, /i/, /u/.

Glide insertion[1]
First vowel Second vowel Examples
i [ɪ] u [ʊ] a [a]
i, y [iː] [j] [j] [j] sigið, siður, siga
í, ý [ʊiː] [j] [j] [j] mígi, mígur, míga
ey [ɛiː] [j] [j] [j] reyði, reyður, reyða
ei [aiː] [j] [j] [j] reiði, reiður, reiða
oy [ɔiː] [j] [j] [j] noyði, royður, royða
u [uː] [w] [w] [w] suði, mugu, suða
ó [ɔuː] [w] [w] [w] róði, róðu, Nóa
ú [ʉuː] [w] [w] [w] búði, búðu, túa
a, æ [ɛaː] [j] [v] ræði, æðu, glaða
á [ɔaː] [j] [v] ráði, fáur, ráða
e [eː] [j] [v] gleði, legu, gleða
o [oː] [j] [v] togið, smogu, roða
ø [øː] [j] [v] løgin, røðu, høgan

The value of the glide is determined by the surrounding vowels:

  1. [j]
    • "I-surrounding, type 1" – after /i, y, í, ý, ei, ey, oy/: bíða [ˈbʊija] (to wait), deyður [ˈdɛijʊɹ] (dead), seyður [ˈsɛijʊɹ] (sheep)
    • "I-surrounding, type 2" – between any vowel (except "u-vowels" /ó, u, ú/) and /i/: kvæði [ˈkvɛajɛ] (ballad), øði [ˈøːjɛ] (rage).
  2. [w] "U-surrounding, type 1" – after /ó, u, ú/: Óðin [ˈɔʊwɪn] (Odin), góðan morgun! [ˌɡɔʊwan ˈmɔɹɡʊn] (good morning!), suður [ˈsuːwʊɹ] (south), slóða [ˈslɔʊwa] (to make a trace).
  3. [v]
    • "U-surrounding, type 2" – between /a, á, e, æ, ø/ and /u/: áður [ˈɔavʊɹ] (before), leður [ˈleːvʊɹ] (leather), í klæðum [ʊɪˈklɛavʊn] (in clothes), í bløðum [ʊɪˈbløːvʊn] (in newspapers).
    • "A-surrounding, type 2"
      • These are exceptions (there is also a regular pronunciation): æða [ˈɛava] (eider-duck).
      • The past participles always have [j]: elskaðar [ˈɛlskajaɹ] (beloved, nom., acc. fem. pl.)
  4. Silent
    • "A-surrounding, type 1" – between /a, á, e, o/ and /a/ and in some words between æ, ø and a: ráða [ˈʐɔːa] (to advise), gleða [ˈɡ̊leːa] (to gladden, please), boða [ˈboːa] (to forebode), kvøða [ˈkvøːa] (to chant), røða [ˈʐøːa] (to make a speech)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Faroese: An Overview and Reference Grammar, 2004 (page 38)