v8: morot

Another vegetable whose Swedish name bears little resemblance to the English is morot (en morot; plural morötter), carrot. The end of each word means root (indeed rot = root), but the English word derives from the Latin carota, and ultimately from ker- (horn). I was hoping to find an explanation of the Swedish etymology, but so far I haven’t. However, I was interested to see the languages that unexpectedly (to me) do and don’t have a similar word for carrot to the Swedish:

Norwegian: gulrot; Danish: gulerod; Icelandic: gulrót

German: Möhre, Mohrrübe

Lithuanian: morka; Polish: marchew;
Romanian: morcov; Russian: морковка

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Published in: on February 28, 2010 at 20:51  Comments (3)  
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v7: njuta

Who said the participles story was finished? In English, the present participle can also be used as a noun, it which case it’s called a gerund. However, since the gerund always has the same form (-ing ending) as the present participle, it has been suggested that gerund-participle is a better term for this form of the verb (also see Language Log, here and here, for further discussion). Swedish has no equivalent form to the gerund.

In English, there are many verbs, such as like (tycka om), which can be used with either the infinitive or the gerund-participle:

I like to swim.
I like swimming.

However, there are some, such as enjoy (njuta av), which only take the gerund-participle:

I enjoy swimming.

In Swedish, since there is no gerund, the infinitive is always used:

Jag tycker om att simma.
literally: I like to swim.
Jag njuter av att simma.
literally: I enjoy to swim.

There’s no obvious reason why some English verbs take the infinitive and some don’t, just another list to learn, which is why mistranslations are reasonably common, and you’ll find such Swenglish expressions as I don’t mind to wait, or You missed to answer question four. But now you know exactly why it happens.

Published in: on February 17, 2010 at 13:57  Comments (2)  
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v6: flytande

Before the week runs away from me, I will finish off participles with a quick post on present participles. In English, the present participle is the form of the verb ending in -ing, and is used mostly either to denote the progressive aspect (an action that is ongoing), or as an adjective:

I was walking along a winding road.

In Swedish, however, the present participle (ending in -ande or -ende) is not used for the progressive aspect; instead, either the simple present tense or the construction hålla på + infinitive (emphasising the ongoing nature of the activity; the present tense of hålla is håller) is used:

I am writing. Jag skrivar.
I am (busy) writing. Jag håller på att skriva.

The present participle is instead used as almost every part of speech other than a verb, for example, as a noun, and adjective, or an adverb respectively:

ett påstående = an assertion
en heltäckande matta = wall-to-wall carpet
påfallande lat = remarkably lazy

One present participle I partcularly like is flytande, which can mean flowing or floating, but is also commonly found in bathrooms as flytande tvål = liquid soap.

Published in: on February 14, 2010 at 21:56  Leave a Comment  
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v5: jagad

Continuing the verb theme, this week it’s past participles. In English, past participles of “regular” verbs are the same as the ordinary past tense, but irregular verbs have distinct past participles. The three main uses for the past participle in English are: (1) in forming the perfect, (2) in passive constructions, and (3) as adjectives modifying a noun:

(1) I have done the deal.
(2) The deal was done.
(3) It is a done deal.

In Swedish, the perfect is expressed using the supine form of the verb rather than the past participle, but the past participle is used as an adjective and also in passive constructions (however there are a number of passive constructions in Swedish, not all involving past participles, more on that in the future). Swedish past participles inflect like adjectives. Here, for comparison, are the (1) past tense, (2) supine, and (3) past participles [n=neuter, c=common, p=plural] of tvätta, to wash:

(1) Jag tvättade bilen. I washed the car.
(2) Jag har tvättat bilen. I have washed the car.
(3n) Huset ar tvättat. The house is washed.
(3c) Bilen är tvättad. The car is washed.
(3p) Bilarna är tvättade. The cars are washed.

It is a little confusing since some forms of the past participle are the same as the past tense or supine, but just remember the differences in usage between Swedish and English. Now on to the fun part…

One of my favourite movies is The Fugitive, starring Harrison Ford as Dr Richard Kimble. The 1993 movie is based on a 1960s TV series of the same name, but whereas in the TV series Dr Kimble travelled extensively throughout the US (the series lasted for four years), in the movie he essentially stayed in Chicago. So is it correct to call him a fugitive?

In Spanish, the movie is El fugitivo (and similar titles in many other languages), but in Swedish it is Jagad, which is the past participle of jaga, to chase (hunt). So, Chased. Similarly, Jaget in Norwegian, but in Danish, the movie is Flygtningen, The Fugitive. The Swedish for fugitive is flyende, the present participle of fly, to flee. At first I thought why not just use the direct Swedish translation of The Fugitive, but on reflection maybe Jagad does describe the movie better after all?

That was a simple exercise in translating titles; I don’t intend to get into examples such as of Steig Larsson’s book/movie Män som hatar kvinnor (Men who hate women) becoming The girl with the dragon tattoo!

To help extend your Swedish vocabulary, here are a few verbs in a fugitive theme:

jaga = to chase, hunt
greppa = to grab
sakna = to lack, be without, miss
söka = to seek
fly = to flee, run away

Published in: on February 2, 2010 at 22:12  Leave a Comment  
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