v1: ojämna

The astute amongst you will have noticed that the headings of my posts always start with ‘v’, then a number. The Swedes will know that this means the ISO 8601 week number (vecka = week). It’s a reminder to me to post once a week, but it’s also commonly used in Sweden. So instead of talking about “the week of February 22nd”, one can just say “week 8”. I knew the ISO would come in handy one day! There’s a pretty simple rule to work out week 1 – it’s the week containing the first Thursday in January, and the numbering continues until the following year gets its own week 1. So this means that some years, such as 2009, end with week 53, and then 2010 starts with week 1: two consecutive odd numbers.

In Australia, garbage in our suburb was collected every second week, and we had a little calendar on the fridge to tell us which weeks those were. In Sweden, our garbage is collected on even weeks (jämna veckor), so I guess no collection to start the New Year.

And now here’s a little more adjective morphology for you: the Swedish prefix o- means un-. For example when recycling glass, there’s a choice between the färgat (coloured) and ofärgat (colourless) bins. Why there’s no word for “clear” glass, I’m not, well, clear. Similarly, the opposite of jämna is ojämna, but one could also use udda (odd). If you were paying attention last week, you should be wondering whether jämna -> ojämna represents derivational or inflectional morphology. And the answer, I’m sure you can work out for yourself (that’s what makes linguistics fun).

Note that the terms even/odd refer to the weeks, since they have numbers associated with them. You could make the mistake of extending that thinking, as a local scout group tries to do:

Vi har våra möten ojämna lördagar…
We have our meetings on uneven Saturdays…

They should say, Saturdays of uneven weeks, or Saturdays of odd weeks, but I know what they mean. Sometimes Saturdays can be uneven.

Published in: on January 4, 2010 at 21:38  Comments (1)  
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  1. A bit late, but I think I have heard ‘klarglas’ being used in a technical way for glass that you can see through (as well as colourless). If you search for ‘klarglas’ you get hits concerning car lights, shower cabins, doors, skiing goggles etc. However, in the recycle bins they want all the non-coloured glass in the same bin, regardless if you can see through it or not.

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