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Norwegian: "la seg (ikke) gjøre" different meaning?

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by sjiraff, Mar 31, 2014.

  1. sjiraff

    sjiraff Senior Member

    UK
    English
    Hello everyone,

    Today I read this phrase in a book, which I've paraphrased slightly just to be more appropriate. A man says the following on the phone:

    Visste du at hun ble døpt? Det skal godt la seg gjøre å finne ei som er det på tjue.


    I'm aware of things such as "Planene lot seg ikke gjennomføre"(the plans weren't possible/couldnt be carried-out) or simply just "Det lot seg ikke gjøre" (it couldn't be done)

    But I have a feeling this means something along the lines of "it's hard to find such (a person) at the age of 20". The thing is I'm not sure why it's worded like this, and I thought at first it might be sarcasm.

    Can anyone explain what kind of expression this is and when else it might be used?

    Thank you!
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2014
  2. myšlenka Senior Member

    Norwegian
    Hi,
    are you sure that this is what it said? It should be "det skal godt gjøres å finne...."

    It means that it's difficult.
     
  3. sjiraff

    sjiraff Senior Member

    UK
    English
    I checked and it definately says just "gjøre", but it might be because the character is a foreigner.

    Either way, does this mean he is sort of being sarcastic? I would have thought if something "lar seg gjøre" then it would mean it can be done (unlike noe som ikke lar seg gjøre). Is this a kind of expression used often? From reading it it didn't make much sense to me!

    Thanks
     
  4. raumar Senior Member

    Oslo, Norway
    Norwegian
    This seems to be a mix-up of two different expressions: "Det skal godt gjøres" (which means that something is difficult or impossible, as myšlenka has explained) and "Det lar seg gjøre" (which means that something can be done, as you already know).

    As those two expressions have opposite meanings, the combination is confusing. It does not make sense to me, either. But a google search for "det skal godt la seg gjøre" shows that this mix-up is not unusual.
     
  5. sjiraff

    sjiraff Senior Member

    UK
    English
    Ahh I see, well sorry for the confusion. I also tried searching it, but it didn't really bring me any closer to what exactly it was.

    So since it's probably meant to be: "Det skal godt gjøres å finne ei som er det..." - this then means it's a hard thing to find.

    I haven't really heard that expression before (Well if I have I probably skipped over it not knowing what exactly was meant by it). Is it okay to say it with other things, like "det skal godt gjøres å finne en god kopp te i utlandet"? Going from what Raumar added about it maybe being impossible, is it quite a strong expression/conveys that something is a big task?

    Thanks
     
  6. raumar Senior Member

    Oslo, Norway
    Norwegian
    That's right! "Det skal godt gjøres å finne en god kopp te i utlandet" works fine.

    I don't know the origin of this expression, and others may be able to explain this better than I can. But I suppose you can compare "det skal godt gjøres å" with "you have to do a really good job, to be able to ...".
     
  7. sjiraff

    sjiraff Senior Member

    UK
    English
    I see! I would never have totally got that without you guys, thanks a bunch.
     
  8. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    If you do the literal translation, you will see there is a certain logic to it: "Det skal godt la seg gjøre å finne ei som er det på tjue" = "It will (perfectly) well let itself be done to find one....
    Meaning: "to let itself be done" means that something make itself possible, or sooner - it is possible in itself
     
  9. raumar Senior Member

    Oslo, Norway
    Norwegian
    You are right, NorwegianNYC. I did not see this possibility, but that may definitely be the case. Of course, that depends of the context. If this is the explanation, the meaning must be that it is quite easy to find a baptized person at the age of 20 (as most people have been baptized long before that age).

    But if this explanation doesn't fit into the context, it might still be a mix-up of the two expressions. My Google search came up with some examples where people have written "Det skal godt la seg gjøre ...", but obviously meant "Det skal godt gjøres ...". For example:
    Sør-Afrika har så mange variasjoner, at det skal godt la seg gjøre å ikke finne noe man syns er interessant.
     
  10. sjiraff

    sjiraff Senior Member

    UK
    English
    I'm quite certain that the context of it in this case was meaning that it was rare to find, rather than easy to find, even if I didn't fully understand what kind of expression this was. (I also paraphrased the adjective)
     
  11. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    In that case, I would prefer: "Det skal godt gjøres". That statement in not ambiguous. In my mind "det skal godt la seg gjøre" is a positive statement
     
  12. sjiraff

    sjiraff Senior Member

    UK
    English
    So what you're saying is "Det skal godt gjøres å..." means something isn't easy, where as "Det skal godt la seg gjøre å..." is saying something is easy?

    Thank you
     
  13. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    The latter (as raumar also points out) often means "it is definitely possible"
     
  14. sjiraff

    sjiraff Senior Member

    UK
    English
    That's pretty interesting how they are opposites, I'll have to remember that in the future. Are they used often in daily speech?
     
  15. Ífaradà Junior Member

    Norwegian/Yoruba
    Without analyzing or thinking about the expression, I immediately read it as "it's not easy to find a baptized person at 20". "Visste du" implies a surprise, and the fact that fewer people are being baptized now than before, only supports this.

    To me there is no significant difference between "det skal godt gjøres å finne" and "det skal godt la seg gjøre å finne".
     
  16. sjiraff

    sjiraff Senior Member

    UK
    English
    Yeah I agree, I definately got that vibe from it but I didn't quite understand how the expression worked.

    Really? That's quite different to how NorwegianNYC interprets it above!
     
  17. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    If we conduct a word-by-word translation into English, it leaves little doubt:

    "det skal godt gjøres (å finne)"
    [it][will][well][be done] (to find) rephrased: “it will be well done (...[if one can] find)” - indicating difficulty

    "det skal godt la seg gjøre å finne"
    [it][will][well][let][itself][do](to find) rephrased: “it will let itself be done (to find)” - indicating possibility
     
  18. Ífaradà Junior Member

    Norwegian/Yoruba
    In my head, if it was written this way "det skal la seg gjøre å finne" it would indeed indicate a possibility, but since it's written "det skal godt la seg gjøre å finne" the indication of possbility is kind of gone.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2014
  19. sjiraff

    sjiraff Senior Member

    UK
    English
    It does make sense now you break it down, thanks NorwegianNYC and Ífaradá. The meaning would probably also be a lot clearer when it's spoken with a tone to emphisise how it's meant.
     
  20. raumar Senior Member

    Oslo, Norway
    Norwegian
    I think that's true. But I am not really happy with any of the explanations.

    NorwegianNYC's translation makes sense to me, but "Det skal godt la seg gjøre å..." might not be the combination of words that most people would choose. For example, "Det skal absolutt la seg gjøre .." and "Det skal helt klart la seg gjøre.." sounds more natural to me, if the point is to emphasise that something can be done.

    Regarding Ífaradá's explanation, I still see "Det skal godt la seg gjøre å..." as a distortion of "Det skal godt gjøres å...". But this might just be my opinion; the google search showed that other people use the phrase the same way as Ífaradá.

    Now you have two Norwegian speakers who read the phrase
    "Det skal godt la seg gjøre ..." in completely different ways, and a third who is confused. My advice would be: try to avoid that phrase!
     
  21. sjiraff

    sjiraff Senior Member

    UK
    English

    You're right, "Det skal absolutt la seg gjøre" and "det skal helt klart la seg gjøre" make it clear it means it is doable.

    Haha alright, maybe these things depend a lot on the tone of how it's said to be more sarcastic perhaps.

    Thanks!
     
  22. myšlenka Senior Member

    Norwegian
    Det skal godt gjøres and det skal godt la seg gjøre mean two different things in my ears too (though I would never use the latter). Their stress and intonation patterns are so different that I have problems understanding how they can be mixed up.
     
  23. NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Norwegian
    I agree with myslenka. I have difficulty understanding how the two can be confused:

    (1) Det skal godt gjøres å bygge bro over Sognefjorden
    (2) Det skal godt la seg gjøre å bygge bro over Sognefjorden
     

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