PRONUNCIATION FOR READERS OF NORDIC NOIR
(only Swedish for now!)
I am of the mind that if you are reading a translated work in English, you should be able to Anglicize (or slaughter) any difficult words without serious reprisal from well-meaning friends and acquaintances. In general, you shouldn’t have to say Hercule Poirot the way a Parisian would. Nor should you hesitate to pronounce Henning Mankell as you see fit (most likely, you’ll do fine with that one).
But what do you do with something like Sjöwall & Wahlöö? Some lucky people can just slur the names together and move right along. Good for you! If you’re like me, on the other hand, you will obsessively roll the exotic words back and forth on your tongue as you cook dinner, pick up the house, drive, work, read, or try to sleep–even if you’ve never taken a course on the language in question.
This drives me crazy. But sometimes people help me out. I was much relieved, for instance, when Slate posted an audio file with the pronunciation of that Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjallajökull (http://www.slate.com/id/2250998). So I am offering to help anyone who suffers from the same affliction. For now, I can only help with Swedish (I live with a native speaker and can verify my answers!) and I only have a few audio files up (more coming soon). But you can email me any Swedish word (firstname.lastname@example.org), and I’ll try to help as soon as possible.
And if any native speakers of the other Scandinavian languages wish to offer some help–let me know!