Danish: Sandhedens modsætning er enkelhed

Ludwig Lukasiewicz

Member
Chinese - Mandarin
In the quote from Niels Bohr "Sandhedens modsætning er enkelhed." the "Sandhedens" has an affix -en on it, while "enkelhed" not. Is the "sandheden" here some specific thing, or the concept of reality generally?
 
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  • justous

    Member
    English
    Hello!

    This is something quite unique to the word sandhed. Most of the time, when used, it takes on the definite. This is likely left over from an older time in the language's history. It's much like in English phrases like "tell *the* truth".

    I suppose maybe it comes from the idea that there is only one true answer to any given question.

    Hope this helps :)
     

    raumar

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    Well, I am not sure about this. I am Norwegian - not Danish. But If you reverse the expression, wouldn't you still use the definite form in the first word: "Enkelhedens modsætning er sandhed"?

    "Enkelheds modsætning er sandhed" is certainly wrong from a Norwegian point of view, while "Modsætningen af enkelhed er sandhed" works, Is it the same in Danish - maybe a native Danish speaker could comment on this?
     

    justous

    Member
    English
    Well, I am not sure about this. I am Norwegian - not Danish. But If you reverse the expression, wouldn't you still use the definite form in the first word: "Enkelhedens modsætning er sandhed"?

    "Enkelheds modsætning er sandhed" is certainly wrong from a Norwegian point of view, while "Modsætningen af enkelhed er sandhed" works, Is it the same in Danish - maybe a native Danish speaker could comment on this?
    That is actually true of Danish come to think of it. I think it has to do with the verbal expression of it. If you said "enkelheds modsætning er sandhed" it would sound like "enkelhedsmodsætning" is a big compound word. In order to prevent confusion, the bestemt form is added to make enkelheden/sandheden
     

    myšlenka

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    That is actually true of Danish come to think of it. I think it has to do with the verbal expression of it. If you said "enkelheds modsætning er sandhed" it would sound like "enkelhedsmodsætning" is a big compound word. In order to prevent confusion, the bestemt form is added to make enkelheden/sandheden
    Or.... you could say that this use of the definite marker has got to do with more general patterns in Germanic and Romance (in which compound readings of this sort are not available). It is a use of the definite marker that has generic reference and you find a lot of them. The expressions would simply be ungrammatical without it.
    - Sandhedens motsætninger (*sandheds motsætning)
    - Kommunismens fald (*kommunismes fald)
    - Demokratiets udvikling (*demokratis udvikling)
    - Havets hemmeligheder (*havs hemmeligheder)

    The very hallmark of Germanic compounds is their prosody, i.e. the way they sound. People make tons of mistakes in spelling/writing, but I have yet to hear someone mixing them up in spoken language too. If the acoustic cues for compounds were so weak that people got confused, the whole compounding phenomenon would have been history a long time ago.
     

    bicontinental

    Senior Member
    English (US), Danish, bilingual
    Going back to the original question,

    In the quote from Niels Bohr "Sandhedens modsætning er enkelhed." the "Sandhedens" has an affix -en on it, while "enkelhed" not. Is the "sandheden" here some specific thing, or the concept of reality generally?
    and adding to the post above by myšlenka, I would say that the Danish s-genitive as in sandhedens modsætning, generally requires the use of the definite or the indefinite article in the singular to be grammatical.

    Please consider these more simplistic examples,
    Pigens cykel (definite form) vs. en piges cykel (indefinite form).
    Fuglens rede (def.) vs. en fugls rede (indef.)
    Moderens kærlighed vs. en moders kærlighed

    We generally don´t use a bare noun in the genitive form in the singular, likely because they are morphed into compound nouns, as in these examples
    piges cykel => pigecykel
    fugls rede=> fuglerede
    moders kærlighed => moderkærlighed

    Off the top of my head I can only think of a few situations where the bare noun may be used in the genitive in an occasional fixed expression and in literary/lyrical contexts, mands minde, fugls føde, and Mands kvinde ( Novel by Moberg)

    The use of the indefinite article in the OP example and in myslenka´s examples would also be grammatical, although some sentences might seem slightly forced or unnatural simply because we more commonly use the definite article to imply a general or conceptual idea of usage. But in the right context they could work.

    Sandhedens modsætninger vs. en sandheds modsætninger
    Demokratiets udvikling vs. et demokratis udvikling
    Havets hemmeligheder vs. et havs hemmeligheder
    Kongerigets fald vs et kongeriges fald
    Menneskets anatomi vs. et menneskes anatomi
    etc.

    In the original quote by Bohr, the definite form sandheden conceptualizes the truth in an all-encompassing way as opposed to en sandhed, a truth, one truth, even any truth.

    In the quote, enkelthed is the predicate nominative and modifiers are optional depending on the context and intent. The use of the definite article would have been grammatical here, creating a parallel construction with sandheden, i.e. sandhedens modsætning er enkeltheden, The use of the bare noun, however, adds an element of linguistic definition,- simplicity defined as in, "enkelthed er sandhedens modsætning."

    Bic.
     

    justous

    Member
    English
    Going back to the original question,



    and adding to the post above by myšlenka, I would say that the Danish s-genitive as in sandhedens modsætning, generally requires the use of the definite or the indefinite article in the singular to be grammatical.

    Please consider these more simplistic examples,
    Pigens cykel (definite form) vs. en piges cykel (indefinite form).
    Fuglens rede (def.) vs. en fugls rede (indef.)
    Moderens kærlighed vs. en moders kærlighed

    We generally don´t use a bare noun in the genitive form in the singular, likely because they are morphed into compound nouns, as in these examples
    piges cykel => pigecykel
    fugls rede=> fuglerede
    moders kærlighed => moderkærlighed

    Off the top of my head I can only think of a few situations where the bare noun may be used in the genitive in an occasional fixed expression and in literary/lyrical contexts, mands minde, fugls føde, and Mands kvinde ( Novel by Moberg)

    The use of the indefinite article in the OP example and in myslenka´s examples would also be grammatical, although some sentences might seem slightly forced or unnatural simply because we more commonly use the definite article to imply a general or conceptual idea of usage. But in the right context they could work.

    Sandhedens modsætninger vs. en sandheds modsætninger
    Demokratiets udvikling vs. et demokratis udvikling
    Havets hemmeligheder vs. et havs hemmeligheder
    Kongerigets fald vs et kongeriges fald
    Menneskets anatomi vs. et menneskes anatomi
    etc.

    In the original quote by Bohr, the definite form sandheden conceptualizes the truth in an all-encompassing way as opposed to en sandhed, a truth, one truth, even any truth.

    In the quote, enkelthed is the predicate nominative and modifiers are optional depending on the context and intent. The use of the definite article would have been grammatical here, creating a parallel construction with sandheden, i.e. sandhedens modsætning er enkeltheden, The use of the bare noun, however, adds an element of linguistic definition,- simplicity defined as in, "enkelthed er sandhedens modsætning."

    Bic.

    Excellent explanation-- hadn't really caught onto that as a rule, but it seems to me to hold true almost always :)
     
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