Icelandic: fyrir mig / fyrir mér

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by Silver_Biscuit, Apr 28, 2011.

  1. Silver_Biscuit

    Silver_Biscuit Senior Member

    English - UK
    Hi everybody,

    So we're doing prepositions in my Icelandic lessons and these two examples are confusing me.

    1. Viltu fara út í búð fyrir mig?
    2. Viltu lýsa íbúðinni fyrir mér?

    What's the difference between the usage of fyrir here? As far as I can see, both of these sentences are requests for someone to do something for the speaker. Why is describing the flat different to going out to the shop?

    Takk fyrirfram
  2. sindridah Senior Member


    I'm pretty sure that you even explained your answer to a question here once, movement/standstill(??)

    hér er: ég
    um: mig
    frá: mér
    til: mín

    But yeah basicly this is just this rule that I'm pretty convinced you're familiar with and yeah it's better to say:

    fyrirfram þakkir! :D
  3. Tazzler Senior Member

    American English
    Forsetningin "fyrir" þó stýrir tveim föllum. Þær forsetningar stýra aðeins einu falli.

    Ég held að SilverBiscuit sé ekki að tala um regluna um hreyfingu og stað. Hún vill þýða ensku forsetninguna "for". Íslenska jafngildið er að sjálfssögðu flóknara.

    Hvað myndirðu segja?

    Gerðu þetta fyrir mér eða mig.

    I feel like the accusative indicates replacement, whereas the dative indicates benefit. So if "I did this for her" means that I did it in her place, then it's accusative. If it means that I did it for her benefit, the dative is used.

    Ég er ekki víss. Íslendigar, leiðréttið mig og hjálpið okkur!
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2011
  4. pollodia

    pollodia Senior Member

    This is bound to be problematic since "for" has at least ten meanings. For the examples you mentioned a quick fix could be "for me" for accusative but "to me" for dative.

    Could you go to the store for me?
    Could you describe the apartment to me?
    To me, your description sounds terrible. (Fyrir mér hljómar lýsing þín hræðilega)

    Prepositions are always tricky. When I'm writing English text that has to be right I find myself spending more time on searching the net for preposition-word combinations than any dictionary/thesaurus... or actually writing something.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2011
  5. sindridah Senior Member

    En hérna Pollodia og Tazzler, er þetta sem sagt einungis tilfinningin sem gerir útslagið hér? Enginn regla sem er hægt að nota til útskýringar?

    Er orðinn svo hrikalega ryðgaður í öllu svona, þarf að fara hætta þessu.

    Og já svo ég svari spurningunni þinni þá er það *nautla* : Gerðu þetta fyrir mig, átti ég ekki annars að svara henni? :D
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2011
  6. NoMoreMrIceGuy Senior Member

    Málfræðilega eru báðar setningarnar réttar, þær bara hafa gjörólíka meiningu:

    Gerðu þetta fyrir mig.
    Do this for me.

    Gerðu þetta fyrir mér.
    ~You can do this, I don't care.

    Ég væri voðalega sáttur ef einhver Íslendingur gæti mætt á svæðið og gefið réttar málfræðilegar útskýringar á þessum persónufornöfnum.
  7. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    I read a lot about Icleandic syntax and this sort of thing, and it's a shame right now that I am so hungover and in between vomiting (;) lol) because I think I might be able to pull together various linguistic studies and back up what I'm about to say, but that might have to wait until later..

    In linguistics and especially relating to case-analysis of pronouns and NPs (Nominal Phrases), use of case is very closely tied to what we call Thematic Relations (also called Theta-roles), which indicate a non-syntactic function, so whereas case/syntax can change, what is intended (semantically) remains the same.

    A grammatical analysis of the (oft-cited) distinction:

    Ég aðstoða [þig]
    Ég hjálpa [þér]

    Shows the pronouns are in different cases, but the semantic meaning is exactly the same, in thematic relations they would be classed as BENEFACTIVE which having different cases. So now that's explained it, a lot of linguistic analysis is done on the case system in Icelandic and there is a way that case reflects thematic relations in a more systematic way:

    As pointed out in this article (23), with certain prepositions, a new(ish) development is that a case distinction after a preposition, which might have originally only governed the accusative, now also accepts the dative.

    Hann kom með mig.
    Hann kom með mér.

    The idea is that the accusative represents a sort authority over someone else, I think this is also pointed out in Colloquial Icelandic somewhere. But anyway, I'll add the translations:

    Hann kom með mig.
    'He brought me with him'

    Hann kom með mér.

    'He accompanied me'

    The accusative shows a sort of subordination of equality, where the first one "he" is sort of 'in charge' (for lack of a better way to put it right now) and he has the authority, whereas in the dative, it's less of a THEME role (as I've just described, undergoer of action etc), but it's BENEFACTIVE, which indicates more of an equality, it's now that they are walking together, not one person is being taken alongside someone else.

    So, this is the often used example with með, but this is now where I'm looking at the original question (I thought the previous information was necessary). Given NoMoreMrIceGuy's examples just above, it occurred to me that someone might be going on in a similar vein.

    Looking at the top, it's an imperative command with the accusative case, there we can see again the sort of inequality in status between the two people, I am the person in charge and you are underneath me, I have authority and you will do what I say.

    In the second example with the dative, there is a notion of not-caring as much, you could do it, I'm not asking it, it doesn't really bother me that much either way. What it looks like is the dative is now (like before) representing an idea of equality where there is no order, it's much more of an optional thing (that subsequently wouldn't bother me as much) as it's not a command.

    I haven't seen anything about this in studies with fyrir, but the similarities with accusative/dative case after other prepositions, backed up with a native's opinion on the semantic differences (without, I presume, knowing about the linguistic studies previously on this) lead me to believe that this is what is going on here.

    So now, looking at the first example given by SB, we'd need to find out if both alterations (even colloquially) were acceptable, and if there was an idea of possibility/optionality and of imperative comanding(ness?) with the dative. If this isn't the case it wouldn't rule out the pattern, as often things can only be possible in certain circumstances, it could be valid in the example by NMMIG, but maybe not in SB's original case. I'm not sure. I think if mér isn't acceptable in the first case it could be due to the impossibility of understanding that sentence in a way that is not a sort of way of getting someone to do something for you. But I'd (as a learner) imagine that mig would be possible in the second case, and be perceived more as a command than a question, but I'm not 100% about that.

    I found an Icelandic document about translations and Polish which used an example with "fyrir mér" (I searched for pdfs to hopefully find more respectable sources) and found the following sentence: Ég bað vin minn að útskýra fyrir mér hvað þessi orð þýddu, which seems to be consistent with the asking a friend, both equal, not really a command.

    ..... discuss.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2011

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