v52: galen

Not the 2nd century Roman physician Galen, but the adjective galen (mad, crazy). Swedish adjectives inflect, agreeing with the noun they modify. For indefinite nouns, there are three forms, which take the following endings: common singular (no ending), neuter singular (+t), and plural (+a):

stor, stort, stora

en stor bil
a big car

ett stort torg
a big square

två stora bilar / torg
two big cars / squares

With definite nouns, the adjective is used with the +a ending. There is also a definite ending +e, which is used: when referring to a male person; with past participles ending in -ad; and with superlatives ending in -ast.

There are of course exceptions to the regular pattern, which depend mainly on the ending of the base form of the adjective; for example, adjectives ending in -en, such as galen, have the following pattern:

galen, galet, galna

You’ll find galen in such phrases as galen vetenskapsman (mad scientist), galna ko-sjukan (mad cow disease), and the children’s book series Galna Gatan. See that? I’m already reinforcing previous “lessons”.

But galen also has a wonderful etymology; according to Norstedts Etymologiska Ordbok, the meaning derives from the verb gala, which is mainly now translated as to crow, but previously has meant to sing magical songs. Thus galen meant förhäxad genom trollsånger (bewitched by magical songs). Which doesn’t sound too bad, really.

God Jul och Gott Nytt År!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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Published in: on December 22, 2009 at 12:50  Comments (2)  
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  1. […] above, let’s just make some words. Actually, previously we’ve looked at inflections for adjectives and nouns, and compounding, so this week it’s got to be derivations. Derivations are fun, and […]

  2. […] (ultimately the same origin as English other) still means both second and other. Andra, like an adjective, has a number of forms: annan = indefinite singular common annat = indefinite singular neuter andra […]


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