Icelandic: sá/hinn + (adjective)

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by Gavril, Sep 22, 2013.

  1. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Sæl,

    Is there a difference of meaning between these two sentences?

    1. Aðeins hinir hugrökku geta staðist þessa þraut.

    2. Aðeins þeir hugrökku geta staðist þessa þraut.

    If not, which of the two options (hinir [adjective] or þeir [adjective]) would you say is more common in this type of sentence?

    Takk,
    Gavril
     
  2. sindridah Senior Member

    Reykjavík
    Icelandic
    Nope there's no difference, but which is more common is actually pretty hard to tell, it doesn't matter really if you use "hinir" or "þeir" no one's gonna spot right away that you're not a native or something like that if
    you choose one way or another. "hinir" is more poetic and "þeir" is more of a friend to friend kinda talk I suppose.
     
  3. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Thanks, Sindridah -- by the way, is it more common to use the masculine plural in this sort of context (hinir/þeir hugrökku, hinir/þeir hröðu, etc.), rather than the neuter (hin/þau hröðu, etc.)?

    I would have expected the neuter plural here, because it can include men and women, but so far I've found a lot more examples of the masculine plural on Google.
     
  4. Silver_Biscuit

    Silver_Biscuit Senior Member

    Reykjavík
    English - UK
    Yes, when talking about a mixed gender ill-defined group (i.e. not Jón, María og Anna, but a group of people where the exact individuals are not known), it is far more common to use the masculine plural, even though Icelandic has a neuter plural pronoun. This even happens with groups that are only female. For example, imagine a university class where all the students are women, the teacher will most likely say: "Eru ekki allir mætir?" rather than "Eru ekki allar mætar?" or "Eru ekki öll mætt?".
    It's simply a language convention, a málvenja. Probably because Icelandic society, like most societies, is male-focused. If you feel inclined to smash the patriarchy you can make a point of using öll instead of allir, for example, but most people don't really care or think about it. When I first began to learn Icelandic I was quite pleased that the neuter forms to describe mixed-gender groups existed, I thought it wouldn't be like French where a group of a thousand women and one man is masculine, but if anything Icelandic is "worse" in this respect.
     
  5. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Thanks, SB. Would you say that this use of the masculine plural is similarly frequent in both writing (newspapers, official documents, etc.) and speech?
     
  6. Silver_Biscuit

    Silver_Biscuit Senior Member

    Reykjavík
    English - UK
    Yes, it's the same in every register / context.
     

Share This Page