As in various other Germanic languages, stressed vowels in Faroese are long when not followed by two or more consonants. Two consonants or a consonant cluster usually indicates a short vowel. Exceptions may be short vowels in particles, pronouns, adverbs, and prepositions in unstressed positions, consisting of just one syllable.
As may be seen on the table to the left, Faroese (like English) has a very atypical pronunciation of its vowels, with odd offglides and other features. For example, long í and ý sound almost like a long Hiberno-English i , and long ó like an American English long o .
While in other languages a short /e/ is common for inflectional endings, Faroese uses /a, i, u/. This means that there are no unstressed short vowels except for these three. Even if a short unstressed /e/ is seen in writing, it will be pronounced like /i/: áðrenn [ˈɔaːɹɪnː] (before). Very typical are endings like -ur , -ir , -ar . The dative is often indicated by -um which is always pronounced[ʊn].
In some dialects, unstressed/ʊ/ is realized as[ø] or is reduced further to[ə]./ɪ/ goes under a similar reduction pattern so unstressed/ʊ/ and/ɪ/ can rhyme. This can cause spelling mistakes related to these two vowels. The table to the right displays the different realizations in different dialects.
Faroese avoids having a hiatus between two vowels by inserting a glide. Orthographically, this is shown in three ways:
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/.
The so-called "skerping" (Thráinsson et al. use the term "Faroese Verschärfung" - in Faroese, skerping /ʃɛɹpɪŋɡ/ means "sharpening") is a typical phenomenon of fronting back vowels before[ɡv] and monophthongizing certain diphthongs before[dːʒ]. Skerping is not indicated orthographically. These consonants occur often after /ó, ú/ (ógv, úgv) and /ey, í, ý, ei, oy/ when no other consonant is following.
|Plosive||p b||t d||k ɡ|
There are several phonological processes involved in Faroese, including:
Faroese tends to omit the first or second consonant in clusters of different consonants: