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Icelandic: Eitra

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by ShakeyX, Sep 2, 2013.

  1. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    Eitra in the dictionary is labelled as governing the accusative "eitra fyrir einhvern"

    In the book i'm reading, person a is inviting person b to eat some PROPER food at his resturaunt and person B says...

    ég læt ekki eitra fyrir mér

    Why no object? and is there then a different meaning when using mig or mér (accusative or dative)
     
  2. Hjalti Junior Member

    Icelandic
    I would say "eitra fyrir einhverjum". If I look at "eitra fyrir" on google I see a lot of "eitra fyrir rottum" and "eitra fyrir eiginmanninum", so clearly many (I suspect most) people use the dative.
     
  3. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    Yeh I checked that out too, I was more just wondering if there was a difference in using one or the other, as I assume much like með mig and með mér carry the different meanings (with me, as in taken with me or with me as in accompanying me) this would have different meanings too?
     
  4. Silver_Biscuit

    Silver_Biscuit Senior Member

    Reykjavík
    English - UK
    Probably just one of those cases where the dictionary doesn't quite match up to what some people actually say, but the meaning would be exactly the same whether people used the dative or the accusative. Like a lot of people I hear saying "spá í því" instead of "spá í það", which is technically "incorrect", but very widespread.

    Have you heard of the term "þágufallssýki" or "dative sickness" (very loaded term, must have been thought up by someone with a conservative attitude to language change)? I would guess "eitra fyrir einhverjum" is an example of that, as is "spá í því".
     
  5. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    While it could be that, I find it hard to believe as it's in an Andrés Önd book, while not a great work or novel it still has writers with a grasp of Icelandic.
     
  6. Silver_Biscuit

    Silver_Biscuit Senior Member

    Reykjavík
    English - UK
    Well, that's taking the term þágufallssýki at face value. I personally think calling language change a sickness is a bit silly. We can call it dative inclination instead, but the important thing is that it is clearly a change that is happening in Icelandic, with different cases generally accepted to a greater or lesser degree. If the dictionary has eitra fyrir as taking an accusative object, just believe it, that's the official correct version. Now that doesn't mean that you won't see the dative object from a lot of people, writers with a good command of Icelandic included, or that we have to say it's really incorrect. If the trend for using the dative object in this case continues to spread and grow, probably it will be in the dictionary in 50 years or something.

    Remember that dictionaries record language, they don't dictate it. Also remember that records of language go out of date fast, and that dictionary compilers tend to err on the side of conservatism. If a language is going through some sort of change (and if it's a living language, then it is), it will always be possible to find some discrepancies between the dictionary record and real life usage.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2013
  7. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    I don't really think this specifically refers to the example we're talking about, because it does seem from a descriptive view, dative is predominant while a prescriptive view does show that accusative is predominant. SB is right about the fluidity, let's say, where prepositions can change case without any seemingly big difference in meaning. Sometimes a change in case has a massive role in changing the meaning and in other examples, virtually none. Some constructions drag one type of case usage towards another (like how pæla í því had an influence on spá í það to give a variant spá í því). Anyway, it's not that it's bad when this happens and I think you're (@Shakey) taking this as SB is saying the authors can't write and are making babyish mistakes but that's not what it's about.

    It's fine to have a published article that has little things that stray away from the norm. I mean once you start reading more news articles you'll realise there are a LOT of people in the media business who don't know their own language (prescriptively) well. It's really, really frequent to see articles written with blatant mistakes and wrong usage and the comment sections are filled with other Icelanders correcting the mistakes (DV is known for that especially but I can't say Vísir is any better). There was a funny thing that happened a few months ago. There was an article about a proofreader who made no errors at some competition and the article was published with about 5-6 blatant grammatical and spelling errors and it made the whole article so ironic and therefore hilarious and was a big hit on Facebook. They went back and updated it three times and still didn't change them all. Don't trust what you might perceive to be a grammatically infallible source.

    I don't think this falls under dative sickness however, that's mainly reserved for non-nominative subjects where people use the dative instead of the accusative. It could easily be related to the phenomenon of over-usage of the dative though. It's difficult to really state a clear difference in a lot of cases between fyrir mig and fyrir mér. I have a syntax book open on my laptop and found an example listed:

    Basically, all I'm trying to say is the chances are when you see something in the dictionary that requires an accusative after a preposition and you see real life usage with dative, it's usually no big deal/mistake/error. Of course in some cases it will be important but it's not something to spend longer than a few seconds trying to figure out. You can just think, "Oh, it's that thing where dative is used when there is no fine rule separating accusative/dative."
     
  8. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    So just to summarise. The reason it is mér could be a number of reasons, but you are assuring me in this case it has nothing to do with semantic differences and is purely just a different way of saying the exact same thing (if by mistake, choice, dative sickness or any number of reasons).
     
  9. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Maybe some people note a semantic difference but the point is in a lot of cases, to a lot of people, in certain cases it doesn't and there's flexibility with forms.
    Sometimes new forms and cases with verbs fall in and out of fashion. It was common not that long ago to use the genitive with the verb að nenna but that's for the most part disappeared (was associated with the East Fjords) and people generally use the dative now. Sometimes it just doesn't really matter. Think of modern leita which should have objects in the genitive but people put in and use dative, the same thing happens with bíða (needing genitive) but then people started throwing eftir in and then using dative as well. Such a complicated system when you just talk about case in general. You're right though.
     
  10. Donnerstag Senior Member

    Reykjavik, Iceland
    Icelandic
    Ekki endilega. Eitt frægasta dæmið um þágufallssýki er jú "mér hlakkar til" (maður heyrir reyndar líka stundum "mig hlakkar til") í stað hins rétta "ég hlakka til"

    Einnig: "mér kvíðir fyrir þessu" í stað "ég kvíði þessu"
     
  11. Silver_Biscuit

    Silver_Biscuit Senior Member

    Reykjavík
    English - UK
    So dative sickness only refers to a tendency to use dative subjects in the wrong places, not objects? OK, you learn something new every day!

    I heard an explanation of fyrir mig and fyrir mér (aside from the "þú ert fyrir mér" "you're in my way" example) when I was having trouble understanding why it was "fara út í búð fyrir einhvern" but "lýsa eitthvað fyrir einhverju". As I remember it, the accusative subject is used when you're doing something instead of the person, like you're doing something that they could do themselves - they could go out to the shop themselves but you're doing it for them. The dative subject is used in cases where you are not doing something instead of someone, you're simply doing it for them - they couldn't describe something themselves, because presumably they haven't seen it and that's why you're describing it anyway. Not sure how well this stands up with other examples. But anyway this has nothing to do with eitra fyrir, just thought I'd mention it.
     
  12. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Interesting! Not heard that before but it seems plausible. Will keep an eye out for how that works with real examples.
     
  13. Hjalti Junior Member

    Icelandic
    I think it's safe to assume that "eitra fyrir + A" is the normal usage today, so the translators of Andrés Önd (which is a great way to learn Icelandic and a great literary work and! :p) are just using normal Icelandic here and not something that would've been the standard in the 1950's.
     
  14. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Hey Hjalti,

    What do you mean by + A here? "A" for accusative? (But wouldn't it be dative?)
    Just wanted to be sure.
     
  15. Hjalti Junior Member

    Icelandic
    Yup, my mistake! I meant the dative.
     
  16. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Ah, gotcha.
    On a related note, what is your native interpretation of the following patterns?
    This is from a document used by some programs to look up case information.
    Particularly the second one, I'm just wondering if maybe it could be linked to [thing poisoned] + fyrir + [person poisoned] and maybe it became habit to generalise this to what was originally the third pattern and then just use dative everywhere. It's likely to be just the overall phenomena on increasing use of data I believe but I just was curious to see what others thought.
     
  17. Silver_Biscuit

    Silver_Biscuit Senior Member

    Reykjavík
    English - UK
    I wouldn't necessarily assume that - you could be correct that it is more common, but to me it looks like usage is split between dative and accusative subjects, like both are within the bounds of what we could call normal usage. We all have a tendency to assume that the way we speak is the "normal" way and when you're listening to someone you often unconsciously ignore the deviations they make from your way of speaking. Málfræði.is has this to say at any rate:
     
  18. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    Silver_Biscuit, I can just about read what is being said but would you care to do a translation of what you just posted. If possible :D
     
  19. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Good find!
     
  20. Silver_Biscuit

    Silver_Biscuit Senior Member

    Reykjavík
    English - UK
    Sure:
    * This is a bad translation... can't think how else to put it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2013
  21. Hjalti Junior Member

    Icelandic
    The first one I would assume is when you're poisoning some area or something like that, e.g. "Reykingafólk eitrar loftið í kringum sig." "Illmennið eitraði vatnsbólið."

    The third one is just poisoning someone (hopefully just some animal or insect). And I would use the dative here :p

    The second one is probably just a combination of the two. What you poison ÞF and what you're trying to kill ÞGF. Found this one on the internet: "þið hljótið að losna við þær [silfurskottur, an insect] eftir að búið er að eitra húsið fyrir þeim."
     
  22. Hjalti Junior Member

    Icelandic
    True. But a quick search on the internet seems to show a lot more use of the dative.
     

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