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Icelandic: Góðan daginn, góða kvöldið!

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by ShakeyX, Apr 29, 2013.

  1. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    So I was always confused why Gott kvöld, turned into Góða kvöldið until I recently learnt about the weak and strong changes of adjectives. So that makes sense, when Kvöld is using the definite article the weak adjective gets used.

    But then this now confuses meabout Góðan daginn... why not Góða daginn, as the definite article is being used. It just seems to break all the rules.
     
  2. Silver_Biscuit

    Silver_Biscuit Senior Member

    Reykjavík
    English - UK
    Yep, just one of those things. You also hear "góðan dag" without the article, but never "góða daginn". It's not worth being confused about it, just accept it. :)

    Edit: It's good that you noticed an 'exception to the rule', though - means that you're understanding the rule.
     
  3. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Exactly.
    Some things just appear weird but you accept they're part of well-established constructions and it makes life a lot easier. Another example, Icelandic doesn't have double definiteness like some of the Scandinavian languages but you will come across „þessa dagana“ ('these days' i.e. nowadays) which is literally 'these the days' and doesn't follow any standard rule. You can see that it doesn't fit into the system because it's not uncommon to see people write „þessa daganna“ using the genitive plural ending rather than the accusative. Not a common mistake but one you will probably come across at some point. There's plenty of complicated things going on that actually have some systematic sense in Icelandic, and when you know this and see obvious exceptions, it can be quite confusing. So, to point out the obvious non-systematic things can help reduce the confusion in working out what other adjective rules actually have going in the system.
     
  4. AatM Senior Member

    England
    English
    Following on from this I have always wondered why the greetings are in the accusative case - I'm guessing that they come from an originally longer fully-formed phrase, something like "I wish you a good day". Could someone clarify that for me?
     
  5. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Exactly.

    Guð gefi þér góðan daginn -> Góðan daginn.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2013
  6. AatM Senior Member

    England
    English
    Takk Alxmrphi!

    EDIT: is that a jussive subjunctive there? "May God give you a good day..." (I don't know if that's what the terminology is in Icelandic, I know it through Latin...)
     
  7. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    It sure is.
    Blessings and exclamations often have a source in more archaic language that is expressed with the present subjunctive.


    Fjandinn / Djöfullinn hafi það!
    Gangi þér vel!
    Hamingjan hjálpi mér/okkur!
    Hvíli hann í fríði!

    I've never seen it called jussive, I've only seen this meaning classed as óskháttur (optative). I don't think with specific distinctions there has been a need for more terminology than that. That's just a side-point, however. :)

     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2013
  8. AatM Senior Member

    England
    English
    Yes, and that's present in most languages, where older forms of verbs have resisted the passage of time in preserved expressions (as I'm sure you know!).

    Thanks for all the examples there, and for the pointer with the terminology. I called it jussive with the Latin usage of the subjunctive as to mean "may/let" in mind - I guess it's the same rough sort of idea, syntax aside. I shall have a look into the finer points of the matter...
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2013
  9. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Yeah, agree!
    But...just to be clear in this case...this form of the verb is still perfectly normal in Icelandic. The context of when to use this kind of subjunctive in main clauses has changed, but not the actual verb form itself. I think you meant the same thing I did but I realised someone in the future might read this and think we are saying these verb forms aren't normal (which is not the case) so just pointing it out explicitly for that reason.
     
  10. AatM Senior Member

    England
    English
    Oh yes, I'm absolutely aware of that, and that is a good point.

    Future reader: I hope that you enjoy the subjunctive as much as I do! :p
     

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