Danish (...and other Scandinavian languages): Peter sidder og synger en sang

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NiklasMunich

New Member
Italian
Hi everyone!

My question is specifically about a structure of Danish, but I think it can at least be extended to (or addressed to speakers of) the other mainland Scandinavian languages, as well.

Is there a difference in meaning between a construction like:

1) Peter sidder/står og synger en sang.

and the same construction with the verb 'to be' instead of 'sit'/'stand'?

2) Peter er og synger en sang.

As far as I know, (1) (sit/stand and sing) is one of the possible ways to express the progressive aspect, i.e. the fact that the singing is Happening right now. Does that hold for the 'is-and-sings'-structure in (2), as well? Are (1) and (2) synonymous? Does (2) mean (1)?

Thank you in advance!
Niklas








 
  • bicontinental

    Senior Member
    English (US), Danish, bilingual
    Ciao :),
    First off, I'm afraid your second sentence is not natural.
    2) Peter er og synger en sang.:cross:
    What you may be thinking of is the construction 'er ved at', which is a common way to express the present continuous in Danish. Peter er ved at skrive, synge, lave mad etc.

    Alternatively this tense can be expressed by using the construction with two verbs in your first sentence example,
    1) Peter sidder/står og synger en sang.:tick:
    This tells you not only what Peter is doing (singing a song) but also that he's sitting/standing while doing it.

    Bic.
     
    Last edited:

    NiklasMunich

    New Member
    Italian
    Dear Bicontinental,

    thank you for your answer!

    I asked this question because I am reading an article in which the structure "er + og + V(3rd Person)" (which is defined as an "absentive" structure) is described as referring to the fact that the subject of the clause is absent from a place in which he/she is supposed to be according to the speaker.

    In this case, "Peter er og synger en sang" would mean - according to the text I am reading - that Peter is not only singing a song right now, but also that he is doing it somewhere else, i.e. not where the speaker uttering the sentence is.
    This article, however, is by a non-Scandinavian speaker, which is why I was a bit skeptical about it... :)

    So, would you say that this construction is not really an existing structure in Danish?

    Thanks again!
     

    bicontinental

    Senior Member
    English (US), Danish, bilingual
    So, would you say that this construction is not really an existing structure in Danish?
    Yes, that's what I'd say.
    That specific construction is not used as you quoted above. Is the author a native Italian (or Spanish) speaker by any chance? In Italian I believe you could say, Pietro è a cantare to express an absentive aspect?

    A construction that comes close to the one you mention is, Peter er ude at/og synge. Here you have the subject (Peter) + a finite verb (er) + an adverb (ude)+ the infinitive (at synge)~ [He's off singing] This tells you that Peter is away...he's gone someplace else to sing. Strictly speaking it doesn't tell you that he's singing 'right now'.

    I hope that didn't confuse the issue any further. I don't know if you have a link to the article you're talking about. If so, I'd be curious to take a look at it. :)

    Best,
    Bic.
     

    NiklasMunich

    New Member
    Italian
    Far from it! Thank you very much! :)

    The author of the article I read is from Holland - and the phenomenon I´m looking at is, as you say, absentivity.
    I must come to the conclusion that this is a mistake spread in the scientific literature through citations.

    Everything is clear now. Thanks again! :)
     

    bicontinental

    Senior Member
    English (US), Danish, bilingual
    Thanks so much for providing the links!

    Actually, in the first reference by de Groot (page 717) he says,
    The strict criterion used in this study to consider a language to have an absentive is that a language must have grammatical means to express absence. For that reason Danish has been excluded, because the Danish expression of absence requires an adverb such as ude 'out' or henne 'away'. [.....]
    Consider the following example:
    (56) Danish
    Jens er ude at bokse.
    John is out to box:INF 'John is off boxing.'
    Groot goes on to address the alternative use of 'og' in addition to 'at' in front of the infinitive...
    Moreover, speakers of Danish hesitate between two possible spellings of the element preceeding the infinitive. The correct alternative seems to be at 'to', whereas the other alternative og 'and' is also accepted. Note that in this case there is no difference in pronunciation between at and og in Danish.
    I hope that further clarifies what I was trying to express above.:)

    Bic.
     
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    raumar

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    This construction may not exist in Danish, but it does in Norwegian. Your example is a bit weird, however. It is unlikely that Peter would go somewhere just to sing a single song.

    "Peter er og synger", without "en sang", works well in spoken Norwegian, but it is informal and rarely used in written texts. I could say it to tell somebody that Peter has gone to a choir rehearsal, for example.
     

    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    "Peter er og synger en sang" makes no sense in Danish.

    Peter er ved at synge en sang - might mean that we have the focus on the fact that he will possibly be finished in a moment.
    Peter sidder og synger en sang - is just a description of what is happening right now. Like the chairs being blue and so on.

    "er ved at ..." always needs an infinitive.

    ... og ... with verbs needs two verbs that make sense together, in the same tense - and that are not auxiliary verbs.


    "Jens er ude at bokse."

    Is OK, but I would actually understand it this way: Jens has gone away for a while, probably out of town to take part in a boxing match. Why? Because boxing is not an outdoor activity so "ude" has to mean something else.

    "Jens er ude at svoemme." He is really out in the open, probably in the sea. Or he is metaphorically out in deep waters.

    I he were just off to the gym:

    "Jens er til boksning." "Jens er gaaet til boksning."
     
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    Red Arrow

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    1) Peter sidder/står og synger en sang.
    In Dutch: Peter zit/staat een liedje te zingen.

    Just because you use the word zit/staat, doesn't mean Peter is actually sitting/standing while singing. At least not in Dutch.
    The verbs zitten and staan are used for some kind of special present continuous.

    Sorry if that wasn't helpful at all :p
     

    Dan2

    Senior Member
    US
    English (US)
    My question is specifically about a structure of Danish
    The first link says specifically that the construction doesn't exist in Danish (requires "ude"), which was exactly bicontinental's observation earlier in the thread, while the second link doesn't mention Danish at all! So it's not clear to me why you provided these two links in support of your OP assertion that "Peter er og synger en sang" is possible in Danish.
     

    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    I think it might be useful to mention that many people mistake "... er ude at ..." for "... er ude og ...". Maybe because of the phonetics, what do I know. Of course the infinitive is right. The one with "og" belongs in the same category as saying "should of ..." in stead of "should have ..."
     

    raumar

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    In Dutch: Peter zit/staat een liedje te zingen.

    Just because you use the word zit/staat, doesn't mean Peter is actually sitting/standing while singing. At least not in Dutch.
    The verbs zitten and staan are used for some kind of special present continuous.
    That's interesting, but this must be a difference between Dutch and the Scandinavian languages. In Norwegian, you don't say this unless Peter actually is sitting/standing. As Bicontinental wrote in post #2, that is also the case in Danish.
     
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