all Nordic languages: skífa/skiva/etc. vs. plata/etc.

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by Gavril, Jan 24, 2011.

  1. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    How do the meanings of the first group of words differ from those of the second group in each of the Nordic languages?

    For example, which of them (if either) is used to refer to

    - any disc-shaped object

    - a flat sheet of some material (metal, glass etc.)

    - a CD or vinyl record

    - any recorded collection of music (album, EP, single), regardless of the physical medium (CD, cassette, vinyl etc.) it is printed on


    Last edited: Jan 24, 2011
  2. oskhen

    oskhen Senior Member

    In Norwegian, "skive" may refer to many disc-shaped objects, at least. Perhaps most. Both "skive" and "plate" may refer to a CD or vinyl record (though I believe "skive" is more commonly used for the former and "plate" for the latter", but that may simply have to do with the age of the people who usually talk about CD's and vinyl records, respectively). "Plate" may refer to a flat sheet of a material, usually one that is at least a bit hard/firm. Certainly metal, glass and wood. Often, a disc-shaped object may also be referred to as a "plate", if it's a sheet of glass, for instance, that just also happens to be disc-shaped. In this respect, the two words focus on/refer to different qualities of the object.

    I suppose that "skive"/"plate" could be used of a music collection that originates from a CD or vinyl record, just as one can talk about listening to a CD when the "CD" is on a computer. One would not use any of these words for a something from a cassette, I think. Concerning single: I don't know.
  3. Tjahzi

    Tjahzi Senior Member

    Umeå, Sweden
    Swedish (Göteborg)
    The following goes for Swedish:

    Introduction: the words in Swedish are skiva [ɧi:va] and platta ['pʰlatʰ:a] respectively. However, it's worth mentioning that these words have grammatically different origins. Skiva is derived from the identical verb att skiva which means to slice or cut into slices, whereas platta is derived from the adjective platt, meaning (and obviously being a cognate of) flat. (Maybe this was more or less known to you, but I felt it could be interesting to know in case not.)

    So for the actual translation issues.

    1. I'm afraid I find the first one to be a little to vague to give a good answer. Could you give an example of a disc-shaped object? Or is the essential part that it should be an unknown object which is disc-shaped?

    2. In the second context, skiva would be used. It occurs in compounds such as glasskiva - flat piece of glass used in windows, picture frames and mirrors, brödskiva - slice of bread, metalskiva - flat piece of metal. It should be noted however, that any flat piece of metal is to be considered a metalskiva. Its skiva-like attributes originate from being a part of something bigger.
    As such, one might start with a very big piece of metal (say 5x5m(x0.3cm)) and then decides to cut it into smaller pieces of maybe 50x50cm. Then you have a skiva. However, would yo go as far as maybe 3x8cm, then that would just be a bit - piece.
    Similarly, a bordsskiva - table top/table leafis a piece of wood (well, usually) that was once part of something bigger.

    3+4. Firstly, am I correct to assume that number three refers to the physical object on which the music is recorded, whereas the fourth is the "abstract" collection? My answer is based on the above assumption.

    These are a bit hard to distinguish since the distinction between the very disc and the collection is rarely needed. However, I would say that in the case of the abstract concept, we use both, with platta being slightly more colloquial/informal/cool. Though, while referring to the concrete object, I would find it quite odd to call it platta. Maybe that's because I'm more used to talk about various computer related discs (which do not hold musical collections and as such are never referred to as plattor). That said, I would find it a bit unnatural to refer to a music collection as a platta as well, but I do heard it frequently.

    Having read oskhen's post, I'd like to add that CD ['se:de:] is frequently used for the both 3 and 4.

    Writing this, I came to wonder when exactly do we use platta and what the difference in definition compared to skiva is. I'm not done yet but I'm working on an answer.
  4. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    I meant any disc-shaped object: for example, a discus used in track-and-field competitions, a hockey puck, or an object whose only known property is being disc-shaped.

    (Out of curiosity, what did you find vague about this question? Was it the use of the word "any"?)


  5. hanne Senior Member

    In general, I'd say that "skive" is something you've cut out of a bigger item, such as a slice of bread. "Skive" is more commonly used in Swedish than in Danish, so don't generalise Tjahzi's explanation ;).

    A random disc-shaped object would be "en flad, rund ting" - but I don't see how I'd be talking about such an object without knowing a bit more about what it is. There's no generic term for this in Danish (nor in the other languages I believe), just like there's isn't one in English.

    This would depend on the material and the purpose, often "plade", but for example a sheet of glass for a window would be something else (probably just "et (stykke) glas", but I'm not a glazier).

    A vinyl is "plade"/"grammofonplade", a CD is just a CD - but is sometimes nicknamed "skive".

    A recorded collection of music is called a library. An item containing a recorded collection is generally named as the medium it's on (CD, cassette, vinyl, etc.). "Album" works in Danish, as in English.

    As you may have observed, your frequent use of "any" and "some" makes the explanations so broad that it's impossible to give a real answer...
  6. Tjahzi

    Tjahzi Senior Member

    Umeå, Sweden
    Swedish (Göteborg)
    Hm, well, I believe the reason I found it hard to answer the first question was because I couldn't think of any disc-shaped objects that didn't already have a name. For instance, the once you mentioned are called diskus and puck. Considering we are not as keen as the Icelanders to create new words with domestic material, I believe we mainly have loan words or compounds (such in the cases of brödskiva, glasskiva, etc) for such objects. (Then again, if you have more examples I'll gladly translate them, I just can't find any myself.) So, it was not just the word any, although it might have confused me since it gave me a feeling of that there were many such objects (yet I couldn't think of any). :p

    Also, it might be too early, but so far, it seems to me that a platta is more solid than a skiva. For instance, a building could be erected on a betongplatta (betong - concrete (building material)). Here, the focus is obviously on the flatness, focusing on the flat surface of the concrete, rather than the sliceness (since there can be no such thing as a smaller slice of concrete originating from a bigger whole, unlike in the cases of bread, wood or cheese).
    Additionally, and this might count to your first category above, platta has an additional meaning, namely (cooking) plate. Then again, the full name is spisplatta (with spis of course meaning cooker), but when I use the word platta alone, I normally associate it with a cooking plate. Again, the focus is on being flat rather than "flat and part of something bigger".
    Interestingly enough, a really big flat stone, used as a foundation could be both a platta or a skiva, but in order for it to be a skiva, it must be very thin, I sense. Yes, something that is used as a foundation is almost always a platta. Maybe it matters whether the thin object is vertical or horizontal (obviously the flatness is more prominent with horizontal objects).

    I'll do some more thinking, that was all for now.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2011
  7. cocuyo Senior Member

    Swedish - Stockholm
    Skiva or platta are used in Swedish for vinyl and older grammophone records, but as they are generic terms, they also may denote other flat objects, not necessarily round.

    The CD also might be referred to as skiva, but I never heard platta in that context.

    A music collection, regardless of medium is a musiksamling or a låtsamling. The medium, containing several musical pieces, whether vinyl, CD or cassette can be ett album.

    The generic term platta refers to a flat (top-)side; hence a helicopter landing platform is a helikopterplatta, and the open place in front of Kulturhuset in Stockholm at Sergels Torg is called Plattan colloquially. Also the flat portions of railway wheels caused by braking too hard are plattor or hjulplattor. Stone slabs are plattor as well.
  8. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Actually, the word disc is used in English for anything disc-shaped, although there is usually some further specifying information included:

    The potter made a ceramic disc
    The blade of a table saw consists of a jagged metal disc.
    I saw a large disc of ice floating in the lake.

    I regret using the word "collection", as it seems to be confusing in this context. I meant what is called a record in English. For example:

    - This record hasn't yet come out on vinyl -- you can only get it as a CD or cassette.
    - The band's new record can be downloaded from iTunes.
    - Their new record is an EP -- they haven't released an LP
    for six years.

    How would Danish and the other Nordic languages translate the word record in the above contexts? (Tjahzi has somewhat answered this question for Swedish.)
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2011
  9. Tjahzi

    Tjahzi Senior Member

    Umeå, Sweden
    Swedish (Göteborg)
    Good examples.

    There are numerous ways to translate the first one, from flat piece of ceramic via various compounds to plate. However, those compounds would be based on skiva- or tallrik (plate) rather than platta.

    The second it a metallskiva. For some reasons, a metallplatta is square shaped (rather than circular).

    However, I can't really imagine an isskiva or even less an isplatta. A big, flat, piece of ice floating around is an isblock or if it's flat enough, an isflak. (Flak is part of the compound lastbilsflak - load-car-bed - truck bed, but is normally used on it's own. As such, we have yet a word that denotes something flat and disc-like).

    Additionally, I feel that I must add my thoughts regarding the information provided by cocuyo. To me, having grown up post-EP/LP/vinyl, there is no distinction between these various pieces of plastic on which music is recorded. They can all be referred to as skiva or platta depending on how cool one wishes to appear.
    Album is a direct loan from English and used more or less identically.
    However, referring to a CD/LP/album as a musiksamling sounds pretty much as natural as to refer to a library as a book collection or to a car as a driving machine. That is, it does cover the meaning, but is in no way the word of choice for pretty much anyone. I doubt I've ever heard the word musiksamling. Possibly låtsamling in the context of various "Best of X" collections.
    Though, it seems we are drifting off topic here...

    As for record, it is obviously derived from recording. However, Swedish simply has no such corresponding words. A song is called a låt, and it can be released on various media.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2011
  10. cocuyo Senior Member

    Swedish - Stockholm
    I'd say that "låtsamling" perhaps could be attributed to a disc that it compiled of various songs, but a "musiksamling" would never be a single disc. However my 2000+ CD:s and about 50 LP:s as well as some thousand musical pieces on my hard drive indeed is a "musiksamling" (music collection).

    A few spelling corrections to Tjahzi's posts: "metall" is spelled with two l and "block" with ck.
  11. Tjahzi

    Tjahzi Senior Member

    Umeå, Sweden
    Swedish (Göteborg)
    Well, yes, of course.

    But considering we (Gavril, as the topic starter, and I) agreed upon the below definition for number three and four...ok, I now realize it is not completely obvious that we/I meant to say that the first is the piece of plastic (as in the CD is in the player) and the second is the collection of musical compositions compiled as a single unit (as in have you heard his new CD?). However, based on this definition, I believe there is no such thing as a disc-shaped object referred to as musiksamling.

    Last edited: Jan 25, 2011
  12. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    I would like to supplement this explanation with terms used in technology (for instance machines or construction): 'skive' is used mostly about round objects that may be moved, or actually are regularly in motion, while 'plate' usually about fixed elements of any shape, often covering something. But this is not a 100% rule, the meaning overlaps, there is a degree of free choice.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2011
  13. eoneo Member

    According to my dictionaries and many online sources, Danish skive, Norwegian skive, and Icelandic skífa also mean washer, except Swedish which instead uses bricka.
    As these words are polysemous, compound words such as Danish spændeskive can also be used to specifically mean washer.
  14. jette(DK) Senior Member

    Here's another Danish input:

    1. Skive

    2. Plade

    3. Plade

    4. Album

    Re 1. The online dictionary defines two different meanings of 'skive':

    A. A slice cut out of something else (tyndt og jævnt stykke der er skåretaf noget især om et stykke skåret af brød, kød eller grøntsager = thin and even piece cut or sawed out of something, especially bread, meat or vegetables) - The meaning Hanne described, but not the one you'e looking for.

    And B, exctly the meaning you're looking for:
    B. A disc shaped object (flad, cirkelformet genstand, evt. med hul i midten = flat, circular object, sometimes with a hole through the center), re. eoneo's spændskive
  15. NoMoreMrIceGuy Senior Member

    Diskur - any disc-shaped object

    Plata, skífa - a flat sheet of some material (metal, glass etc.)

    CD: Plata, skífa, diskur. Vinyl: Plata, skífa - a CD or vinyl record

    Cassette: Snælda, spóla. Digital collection of an album: Diskur, plata - any recorded collection of music (album, EP, single), regardless of the physical medium (CD, cassette, vinyl etc.) it is printed on

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