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Melodic accent

Norwegian and Swedish except Finland-Swedish, belong to the few European languages which have a melodic accent. Others are Lithuanian and Serbo-Croatian.

Scandinavian languages (Norwegian and Swedish)

The way this melodic accent is expressed varies quite a lot between different dialects of the language, but the dichotomy exists everywhere. It has an important role to differentiate words, which otherways would have been confused with each other.

Words with one syllable, words stressed on the end, and short words with an unstressed suffix, usually has what could be called "one syllable accent". Its rarely marked, but then by acute accent. Words derived from the two-syllable roots usually have an almost equal stress on both syllables - a "two syllable accent".

In South Swedish dialects the "one syllable accent" is expressed as a falling tone of voice on the first syllable, while the "two syllable accent" is expressed as a rise and a fall of the tone on the first syllable.

Questions are expressed by using a rising tone on the second syllable.

In most Danish dialects (and some Scanian too) this melody accent has been replaced by a glottal stop (stød) in place of the "one syllable accents".

See also: North Germanic language