å - 'får' is pronounced as the English word 'for'
ä - 'bär' is pronounced as the English word 'bear'
ö - 'törn' is pronounced as the English word 'turn'
and finally the Swedish "u" - shape your lips as you are going to kiss
a puppy or a cat, and then with the lips in that position say "i" (not "ay").
Hard vowels: a, o, u, å
Soft vowels: e, i, y, ä, ö
Rules for pronunciation for the consonants 'g' and 'k'. This is NOT valid for
adopted words. If the consonant appears before a soft vowel, the consonant
also will be pronounced soft:
'gäller' is pronounced as the English word 'yeller'
'galleri' is pronounced as the English word 'gallery'
'käck' is pronounced as the English word 'cheque'
'kork' is pronounced as the English word 'cork'
(compare with the pronunciation of the letter 'c' in English)
The combination "sj", "stj" is allways pronounced ^h or ^s depending of dialect,
exept for the railroad company SJ that is an abbreviation.
The combination "tj" is pronounced ^c. This is NOT valid for adopted words and names.
When it comes to the combination of "sk", it is the same tricky thing with hard or
soft vowel. "sk" before a hard vowel is pronounced as "sk" , (you probably know
how to pronounce "Skål"), but before a soft vowel it is pronounced ^h or ^s
depending of dialect (in Stockholm-area general ^h).
The Swedish words "själ", "stjäl", and "skäl" (^häl or ^säl) are all pronounced
in the same way, but have different meaning.
In English you have the same phenomenon: Check if the Czeck got a cheque.
A really tongue-twister, as I've heard, is to say the figures "7" and "27".
Sju (7) is pronounced ^hu, and tjugosju (27) is pronounced ^cu^hu.
A particular name that generates problem for non-Swedish people is: Älvsjö
Btw, the word "sjö" (^hö or ^sö) means "lake", and is often used in names.
It is a lot easier if you speak German and pronounce the German village Älwchö,
or in French the French village Èlvcheu.
Feed-back are welcome.