All Nordic languages: han/denne

Gavril

Senior Member
English, USA
Hi,

I saw the following sentence in Swedish:

Han blockerade angriparens hand med ett hårt tag vari denne hade ett vasst föremål.

"He blocked the assailant's hand with a hard grip, where he[?] had a sharp object."

1) Does the use of denne here (rather than han) indicate that the assailant (rather than the person who is the subject of the sentence) was the one holding a sharp object?

2) Does this pattern involving han/denne appear in all of Scandinavian? (And perhaps Icelandic as well, if we replace han/denne with hann/þessi?)

Thanks
 
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  • Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Hi,

    I saw the following sentence in Swedish:

    Han blockerade angriparens hand med ett hårt tag vari denne hade en vasst föremål.

    "He blocked the assailant's hand with a hard grip, where he[?] had a sharp object."

    1) Does the use of denne here (rather than han) indicate that the assailant (rather than the person who is the subject of the sentence) was the one holding a sharp object?

    2) Does this pattern involving han/denne appear in all of Scandinavian? (And perhaps Icelandic as well, if we replace han/denne with hann/þessi?)

    Thanks
    This pattern exists also in Norwegian, probably also in Danish, I don't know about Icelandic.
    The author uses "denne" instead of "han" about the assailant in order to avoid ambiguity. If he used "han" about the assailant it would be unclear who had the sharp object in hand. "Angriparen" here is a part of the compound subject (angriparens hand) of the sentence, and the pair "han" about subject and "denne" about object is typical. This sentence is written in a formal style, and "denne" would not be used in colloquial speech in Norwegian, and I presume, also in Swedish.
    Another reason of using "denne" (this time for a subject) would be if the subject was of unknown gender, in order of avoiding using "han/hun".
     

    Wilma_Sweden

    Senior Member
    Swedish (Scania)
    This pattern exists also in Norwegian, probably also in Danish, I don't know about Icelandic.
    The author uses "denne" instead of "han" about the assailant in order to avoid ambiguity. If he used "han" about the assailant it would be unclear who had the sharp object in hand. "Angriparen" here is a part of the compound subject (angriparens hand) of the sentence, and the pair "han" about subject and "denne" about object is typical. This sentence is written in a formal style, and "denne" would not be used in colloquial speech in Norwegian, and I presume, also in Swedish.
    Another reason of using "denne" (this time for a subject) would be if the subject was of unknown gender, in order of avoiding using "han/hun".
    I agree in principle, BUT: "denne" does refer to a male subject, the corresponding pronoun for females would be "denna". In brief, denne/denna/detta is a demonstrative pronoun and usually refers to the most recent subject/object mentioned, to avoid ambiguity. "Vari" is a locative adverb meaning "in which".
    The sample sentence is indeed written in very formal language. Thinking in English, I would write: "With a hard grip he blocked the hand of the assailant, who was holding a sharp object."
     

    raumar

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    We use "denne" both for male and female subjects in Norwegian, so this is a difference between Norwegian and Swedish.

    The whole sentence looks a bit confusing, or badly written. "Han blockerade angriparens hand med ett hårt tag vari denne hade en vasst föremål" seems to place the sharp object in the hard grip, not in the hand of the assailant. At least, that is how I read it as a Norwegian.

    Unless there are any differences between Norwegian and Swedish in this case, I would prefer "Han blockerade angriparens hand, vari denne hade en vasst föremål, med ett hårt tag." Or "Med ett hårt tag blockerade han angriparens hand, vari denne hade en vasst föremål." And shouldn't it be "ett vasst föremål", instead of "en"?

    What is the Swedish opinion on this sentence, Wilma?
     

    Wilma_Sweden

    Senior Member
    Swedish (Scania)
    We use "denne" both for male and female subjects in Norwegian, so this is a difference between Norwegian and Swedish.

    The whole sentence looks a bit confusing, or badly written. "Han blockerade angriparens hand med ett hårt tag vari denne hade en vasst föremål" seems to place the sharp object in the hard grip, not in the hand of the assailant. At least, that is how I read it as a Norwegian.

    Unless there are any differences between Norwegian and Swedish in this case, I would prefer "Han blockerade angriparens hand, vari denne hade en vasst föremål, med ett hårt tag." Or "Med ett hårt tag blockerade han angriparens hand, vari denne hade en vasst föremål." And shouldn't it be "ett vasst föremål", instead of "en"?

    What is the Swedish opinion on this sentence, Wilma?
    It is not ambiguous in Swedish because the use of 'denne' naturally refers to the assailant (=last mentioned subject/object), see previous post. At first glance it looked OK although formal and a bit stilted. It could do with revamping, though, and I agree with your second suggestion: Med ett hårt tag blockerade han angriparens hand, vari denne hade en vasst föremål.
    Since the clause 'vari denne hade ett vasst föremål' is a modifier for the noun 'hand', it looks a bit out of place in the original sentence because it is orphaned, and the optimal placement would be directly after the noun that it modifies. You mention that it could be seen to modiy the grip (tag) because of the placement, but context and semantics rule that out, and this is why I didn't immediately label it grammatically wrong - 'denne' refers to the correct hand owner. About your other suggestion: "Han blockerade angriparens hand, vari denne hade en vasst föremål, med ett hårt tag."This is stylistically worse, the orphaned adverbial phrase 'med ett hårt tag' needs to be closer to the verb it modifies.

    I didn't see the genus error (en/ett), and it is no longer an issue.
     

    Segorian

    Senior Member
    Icelandic & Swedish
    2) Does this pattern involving han/denne appear in all of Scandinavian? (And perhaps Icelandic as well, if we replace han/denne with hann/þessi?)
    This also exists in Icelandic, although the word corresponding to denne is (not þessi):

    Eitt sinn bar það til, að Björn svaf um messutíma gegn vilja og vitund Orms. Dreymdi hann þá, að til hans kæmi ókunnugur maður, en hélt á diski með kjöti á, skornu í bita, og bauð Birni. (Vikan, 17 October 1963, p. 27)

    Aleksander Kwasniewskí, forseti Póllands, vildi endilega hitta söngvarann Sting áður en hélt tónleika í Varsjá fyrir helgina. (Dagblaðið Vísir, 20 June 1996, p. 35)​

    It is a construction which is limited to the written language but not necessarily to formal contexts.
     
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