Icelandic: Meaning of prepositions in verb constructions

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by ShakeyX, Sep 6, 2013.

  1. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    The thought popped into my head when today I tried to use the verb eitra, and simply said Eitra mér... forgetting the fyrir.

    Now all of a sudden I was thinking, what the hell does fyrir mean in this phrase, whats its purpose, what does it even add.. there are tons and tons and tons of verb constructions in icelandic that seem to have random að við með til á... which are seemingly interchangeable to me. Like... ég hef áhuga á einhverju... if you didn't know the construction is there really any logical way of concluding that á should be used there?

    Is this something similar to english, could someone give an example of a random preposition used in english that would only make sense to us as I am drawing a blank, or are these prepositions in some respects logical in icelandic? Or are they all just to be memorized and taken as part of the verb.
  2. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Ha, for a speaker of English to write that post! :eek:

    You can't take literal split meanings of things and expect them to logically add up nicely in a sentence. Look in your actual question, "all of a sudden" - can you see how utterly bizarre and mind boggling that is if you know the meaning of the individual elements only? That's not even considering 'drawing a blank' or what exactly 'taken' means in 'taken as part of the verb'. Think of what it means to put up with someone or give something up. If you want to help someone out, where do they come 'out'? Then there are things like to get over, to act up, get along with, make fun of someone (why not make fun someone?). I couldn't keep from posting this list (??? what actually is going on in that expression?). To stand someone up, fob someone off, weird someone out. Now take any weird expression and add in a different preposition, it just turns into total nonsense. Those weird words have to be there to keep those meanings.

    English is a bazillion times more weird, strange, odd, crazy, incomprehensibly senseless. It's so weird to see someone not see the problem but see it in other places. :)
    On a more serious note though, it's perfectly normal for natives to have sense about things and not dissect meanings down logically in their native language.

    Consider the word 'get' ... do all of these prepositions (verb particles) change the normal meaning of 'get' into the phrasal meaning?

    Get across
    Get along
    Get on with
    Get around
    Get at
    Get away
    Get down
    Get down to
    Get over
    Get off on
    Get by
    Get down with
    Got into (i.e. a band)
    Get away with

    Maybe there's a little more appreciation for all the people who tackle English. We say things like they make sense but people who aren't familiar with the phrasal verbs try to decode what we're talking about and have absolutely no idea what we could mean.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2013
  3. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    Hahah this is exactly what I needed. Really coudln't think of an example on the spot as ofcourse everything makes sense to me

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