The letter T can be pronounced with a small breath or without.
With a breath
This is the same sound as in the English tie, with a slightly stronger breath of air going out (exhaling) after the letter.
- At the start of words:
- tími, takk, te, tónlist
- In the middle of a handful of foreign loan words:
Doing the small breath of air (exhaling) after the letter is necessary. It is better to exaggerate the strength of the breath rather than to do to little. Native speakers of Spanish and Dutch in particular have a harder time making this breathy sound. If you forget to do the exhalation, the letter will sound like a D.
Without a breath
This sound is the same as the above, just without the breath that comes after it. It is the same sound as the Icelandic D (“dansa”), and is the same sound as in the English stand.
In the middle of words or at the ends of sentences, t sounds like the Icelandic d or like the English stand.
- fótur, matur, sætur, úti, tómatur
Small exhalation before the T
There are several situations where you have to breathe out (exhale) a little bit before the T. The situations are:
- Before a double T
- köttur ([kö(h)tur]), létt ([lé(h)t])
- Before a tn:
- vatn ([va(h)tn]), setning ([se(h)tning])
- Before a tl:
- vitlaust ([vi(h)tlaust]), litli ([li(h)tli])
This small breath is extremely important, without it it’s almost impossible to understand you. It is better to exaggerate it rather than to do too little of it.
- “tns” is pronounced as “ss”:
- vatns ([vass]), botns ([boss])
The name of the letter is “té”.