The Swedish genealogy records are easily available online. You can even use some of them for free. But you have to read them in Swedish. One of the first thing you’ll notice is that the Swedish letters å, ä, and ö are commonly used.
The question is, to which degree do you have to use them? Do you have to care about the difference between a, å and ä, or o and ö?
They are different letters
Yes, you do have to care about the umlauts and over-ring. In the Swedish alphabet the letters a, å, and ä are different letters, just as o and ö are different.
At some point you need to know the Swedish spelling, to keep your family history accurate. Otherwise you’re collecting incomplete information. It will leave people guessing what you mean.
If you can’t type the Swedish letters on your keyboard, simply copy the correct spelling from the internet. Maybe not every time you write it, but make sure to have the proper spelling saved somewhere where it’s easy to find.
They are in different places in the alphabet
The biggest practical impact it has on your research is when searching alphabetically. In the Swedish alphabet, the letters å, ä, ö are at the very end of the alphabet. This is different from German, where ä is listed with a, and ö with o.
Note also that the Danish and Norwegian alphabet ends with æ, ø, å. The sounds of these letters are the same, but they are in another order.
Pronunciation of the Swedish letters
Knowing the correct spelling will also give a clue to the pronunciation. The pronunciations of Swedish vowels is a huge topic in itself. Let’s say it varies. This is just to show the difference between a, å, ä, o, and ö.
Compare bar (bar/bare) to bår (stretcher) and bär (berry/berries/carries). Bar is pronounced similar to bar in English, bår is close to bore, and bär sounds almost the same as bare.
Another example is lov (permission/holiday/praise) and löv (leaf). Lov is pronounced as law with an extra v at the end. The ö in löv is like the vowel in her.
When you’re in an app, the Swedish letters are treated as the regular Latin letters. So you can search documents for Swedish words without using Swedish letters.
When you search a document for far (father) it will also find every får (sheep) in the text.
You may even find the Swedish spelling of place names by using the same method in search engines and online maps. Enter the name with the regular Latin letters and see what comes up. It works under some circumestanes, so it’s worth a try.
So there you have it. This is all you need to know about the Swedish letters. With these tips you can easily tackle å, ä and ö in your Swedish family research.