Icelandic: Þjappa

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by ShakeyX, Aug 20, 2013.

  1. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    Okay so came across this word as I am trying to write an e-mail at work explaining something is being "compressed" and will take a while.

    It seems valid to use this word as I found this list on wiktionary;

    So I want to write "The shows "xxx" "xxx" and "xxx" are being compressed" (sort of in the as we speak sense)

    Now, I know that þjappa governs the dative, and that this is in the passive so we have the form... Einhverju er þjappað - to say something is compressed... but BEING compressed, how do I indicate that continuous action?
  2. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Þættirnir eru að þjappast sem stendur.

    Uppástungan mín. Veit ekki hvort það er rétt eða ekki.

    Grammar note:

    Remember that the mediopassive has all its direct objects that become subjects, in the nominative (as opposed to the standard passive where dative/genitive case is retained). Also note that indirect objects do not show this universal shift to nominative - only direct objects.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2013
  3. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    Your grammar note makes me wonder if I said anything wrong as I thought I knew all of that?

    Was it wrong to say "something is compressed" is "Einhverju er þjappað"?

    And ontop of that, my mind has been exploding getting my head around the passive/mediopassive and its actual role in language. Turns out even english has the Middle Voice we just don't have a case to represent it... So all these voices are things that just happen in language whether or not the language copes by changing itself around it or not... That being said, is what I'm trying to say just INHERENTLY mediopassive and in icelandic I should address it in such a way, or is it possible to write my sentence in the way I was trying to at first... the passive... einhverju er "being compressed" (af einhverjum)?
  4. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    I don't remember explaining that, but that might just be my fault. My memory isn't too great. If so, fantastic.
    When you say something is compressed, you're saying it like you're just describing the state of something with an adjective. In such a case, that's not a passive so you don't need this dative case on the subject. You can just say, like skjölin eru þjöppuð saman (files are compressed).

    That's a lot to try and decode. I'll have to be vague.
    Yes to the fact that Icelandic is much more regular in how it represents different semantic relations while English doesn't use a lot at all.
    I'd lose the idea of trying to use the normal passive. Compressing isn't really that much of a big subject having an action on a verb. I don't know how to describe it, it just seems completely weird to be using the normal passive with that verb.
  5. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    No way is skjölin eru þjöppuð valid... I mean. The adjective is derived fro the verb surely (which governs the dative)? Just like when we were talking about the Prison being Divided into sections by the guards... Búðunum er skipt í þrjú svæði (af fangavörðunum).

    To me the prison being divided is a state just as much as something being compressed is a state, and especially as we are talking about computers and files and loading bars, we know that someone had to click the compress button. If skjölin eru þjöppuð is aloud then I can't go on anymore.

    Hmm as a thought, the prison example, would it be possible to re-write that sentence (the passive one)... mediopassively?
  6. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Yeah, so why would the adjective have a requirement that the subject is dative? That's what verbs do. If you can see it's an adjective, then I don't see why you can't see that it wouldn't just be normal case rules. We went through this with the invited to the party example. The line between an adjectival and verbal use is quite difficult to see. It's not obvious. I can understand a bit of confusion but there's no need to give up because it's not instantly clear.

    The files are compressed.
    The files have been compressed.

    Can't you see the fundamental difference between an action-description and a state-description?
    They both can be both things. This is where you're getting confused.
  7. Silver_Biscuit

    Silver_Biscuit Senior Member

    English - UK
    The fact that adjectives are based on the past participle of verbs makes no difference to their grammatical behaviour. There is no grammatical difference between the adjective þjappaður and the adjectives rauður, heppinn, stór, etc. Þjappaður is an adjective describing a state of being compressed, just as rauður describes a state of being a certain colour. Skjölin eru þjöppuð is a perfect way of describing that the files are in a compressed state.

    Einhverju er þjappað (if it is valid) would refer to the action of compressing, not to the state of being compressed. I suppose English doesn't make this distinction in the word forms, but you can sense that there are two different interpretations of "The files are compressed", can't you?

    The files are compressed - Action of compressing expressed passively, someone compresses the files.
    The files are compressed - State of being compressed, the files are in a compressed form.
  8. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Silver_Biscuit hitti naglann á höfuðið. :)
  9. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    Okay the adjective verb confusion I just had was a momentary brain-fart and I do understand whats going on now.... However, I was wondering if either of you can explain the way you arrived at your final sentence, not that I'm doubting it, just so I know.

    So okay the brain train... I want to say that The Files (being the "TOPIC i guess the word is).. are being compressed as my boss asked me on the status of the files. So I could say "I am compressing the files" but as I want to more indicate the job is underway I would then go with the passive. What lead you to use the mediopassive (*) and what makes me incorrect in the passive way?

    *I also want to clear this grammatical mind fuck out... is it a sentence regardless of meaning is in the active/passive/mediopassive. or... a meaning that triggers the active/passive/mediopassive and then should be written as such. So.. is He hit her, and she was hit by someone exactly the same and we can choose the sentence for ... certain purposes and then the output sentence represents a certain voice... or that we should represent something IN a certain voice based on its meaning. Is voice simply the writers choice I guess is what I'm saying.
  10. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Sorry, what final sentence do you mean?
    Want to err on the side of caution that we don't mix up explanations and potentially cause unnecessary confusion. :)
  11. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    Your final sentence "Þættirnir eru að þjappast"
  12. Silver_Biscuit

    Silver_Biscuit Senior Member

    English - UK
    To be clear, I don't really know how I would express "The files are being compressed" - Alex's initial guess seems good. In general my mind is drawing a complete blank on how the "Subject is being verbed" construction would be in Icelandic if it weren't done using the middle voice verb form method that Alex used (seems like I really ought to know, maybe I do somewhere in my brain, but it's not coming to the surface). Personally, I would cop out and use the active voice! Maybe I'm just lazy :)
  13. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    Still about the voice, still trying to find the words to explain whats going on in my brain. Maybe I'll try this.

    Was voice discovered... as languages naturally developed, something we simply identify about the way the sentence is. Oh that is mediopassive, this one is passive, its just a label for something that naturally developed. OR was it something created to serve a purpose, or atleast consciously thought about and that certain things require certain voices to be used? That is what I mean when I say "How did we come to your final sentence" was there conscious choices or is it more of a... what sounds more natural and then just HAPPENS to be mediopassive?
  14. Silver_Biscuit

    Silver_Biscuit Senior Member

    English - UK
    Ha? You can't "create" grammar. I don't understand your question.
  15. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    I guess that answers my question. So voice is mealy a label for things we have identified in language. and the fact that we even NEED to identify them in this language is because when they occur they trigger several changes in icelandic whereas in other languages, like english, you could go on through life never knowing something like "the reflexive" as it isn't apparent when nothing changes... "He shaves the dog, He shaves himself". We label is reflexive and it still exists but its just a label for the way the sentence is arranged, its not that the sentence is arranged based on a certain voice being necessary in certain circumstances. The voices are interchangeable purely dependent on... what???. I guess that's what I'm asking. What decides the voice, or is it just one of those little things like which one feels more correct to say down to amount of times used in the language.
  16. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    I have written about three different replies but always deleted them because I'm just not sure what to say.
    It's really common for people to give language-learning advice where people ask others to take a step back and see the bigger picture.
    In your case, I think you've pulled back too far and you need to get back in a bit to see the detail and relate real-world examples to link them to the vague concepts.
    I can't see how a vague conversation can really work here without getting more and more confusing.

    If you could formulate your question/ponderings in a way that relates either to Icelandic or English (or both), then we could have a chance at getting into useful discussions.
  17. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    Well in a situation where I was hit in the face, in icelandic. And you were to retell that event.. What actually causes you to say A hit B, or B was hit by A. Is it purely your choice or is there some contextual add-ons which trigger you to use active over passive or passive over active or... so on and so on. I'm simply wondering if it's free choice or triggered and I have no idea myself. To me in english if i was talkinga bout a fight... And then A hit B.. and then he hit C, and then he hit D...or.. and then B was hit by A.. then C... then D..

    They both are interchangeable so I was wondering is voice just the LABEL for these two different uses or are the VOICES necessary in conveying some meaning that can only be done with one voice or the other leading the the different use being applied.
  18. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    I know this is abstract but for the question.. (the last sentence) I don't know ANY other way to put it, it is impossible to add context to a question that asks if two interchangeable things are purely interchangeable :p How did we even get here? Oh yeh... this all relates back to.. I was wondering why you used the reflexive form of þjappa to form a mediopassive (then when i wrote TO FORM A MEDIOPASSIVE) my brain expldoed and i asked myself. is it YOU that is forming the mediopassive, or is it the mediopassive meaning you NEED to convey with such a sentence, causing you to write something in a certain form...? Do you get me now, that is seriously the best I can do :Ð

    EDIT: one more try

    Is the meaning of my message, that something is being compressed, purely a mediopassive meaning across the spectrum of language, or is it only mediopassive in the target language because that is what it has been labeled, is it purely something labelled just to set up some rules. I mean in every language would it be mediopassive regardless of whether there was a form for it or not, and does that mean what I want to say can not be expressed in any other way without changing the meaning... I can't express it actively... I am compressing... (does that indicate it's being compressed)... yes it does, right? but that is active so.... then I guess it is just a choice, and a label, rather than a thought havent a dictated voice.?!?!ÞÞ!
  19. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Aha, that's making a bit more sense now.
    Default would be the active voice in both English and Icelandic.
    You use the passive (again in both languages) to put more emphasis on what is effected (the object).
    Imagine someone who spoke in mostly passives, it'd be creepy.

    We're more likely to use these terms because there are distinct forms in the language, while in English what would be considered a mediopassive, we would probably not ever say that terminology. In that sense, you're right.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2013
  20. Silver_Biscuit

    Silver_Biscuit Senior Member

    English - UK
    In a lot of cases, it's a question of style. Speakers of a language usually have more than one option of how to say a certain thing, and they can manipulate the language in order to "tweak" the message. Voice is one of these manipulations (there are many others). Choosing to use the passive voice puts more emphasis on the object of the sentence (sometimes to the extent that the subject isn't even in the sentence) - you are drawing attention to the object and making that more important than the subject. Choosing to use the active voice does the opposite. It's a stylistic choice based on the way in which you wish to present the information.

    Edit: Usually people consider the subject of a sentence (the one performing the verb) to be more important than the object (the one the verb is being performed on), so the active voice is far more common than the passive voice (true of both languages, but more true of English). For example, in "The man ate the apple", the man is more important than the apple, the main point of the sentence is that the man is eating something, and it's an apple. If we were to say "The apple was eaten by the man", we're saying that the important part is the apple and what happens to it. People don't usually focus on the apple's perspective in a sentence like this, so "The apple was eaten by the man" sounds really weird, although you can make that choice if you so wish. However, compare with "The man was condemned to death" - this is passive and sounds completely natural, because the most important thing really is the man and what happens to him. It doesn't particularly matter who condemned him to death, we can assume that it was a judge, but we don't necessarily care, because of the way the sentence is written and because of the nature of the information.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2013
  21. Silver_Biscuit

    Silver_Biscuit Senior Member

    English - UK
    Incidentally, you yourself identified the stylistic emphasis you wanted to place on the information about the files: "So I could say "I am compressing the files" but as I want to more indicate the job is underway I would then go with the passive." You did not consider yourself, as the subject of the verb, to be important - what was important was the files and what was happening to them. So you know what's going on, and why people choose to use certain voices, but I think you're getting confused on the point that one interpretation or another of the information (i.e. the information presented in one voice or the other) is somehow true or correct beyond the confines of language. This is not the case, it is all a matter of interpretation and style.
  22. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    They both can be both things, okay when I originally was on this thread I went off track on the importance/use of passive and if it was choice etc... Now I just got caught back on this.

    What I took from your message is that something in the form "Subject vera Adjective" I believe the adjective would be called a predicative adjective on the subject... Anyway with Þjappa it was stated that both could be used, if it has an adjective form then it can just be the adjective and the subject remain nominative and the adjective conform like a normal adjective, if it's in the passive then the subject becomes dative in case and the neutral past participle is used.

    So I came across ljúka... I've mentioned this before, and I know that "Þessu er lokið" denotes (This is finished), it is passive which means someone did the action of closing/finishing the said event however they are not what is important... But what i'm getting from the logic you have posted above is that I could say... Þetta er lokið as Lokinn is an adjective so...? Woudln't that also mean This is finished, with no semantic difference.
  23. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English

    << revising explanation >>
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2013
  24. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    But þjappa also governs the Dative?

    I was under the impression that "einhverju er lokið (af einhverjum)" is a passive construction.... from the active sentence "einhver lauk einhverju". Is that not correct?

    So why is the adjective form not applicable here with ljúka but it could be used with þjappa? What's the difference?

    So in my sentence I wanted to put emphasis on the FILES that are being compressed (by someone: little emphasis here). So I get mediopassive or passive being used to do this, and I get an adjective describing them simply as compressed rather than in an ongoing state of being compressed. But do these same things not apply to ljúka, can it not be in a static state of finish'ed'ness?
  25. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    It's quite complicated to explain ljúka because of its different meanings and personal and impersonal usages and all the syntactic traits that pop up and one construction looks like another but actually has a different meaning. I'll try to put a good explanation together tomorrow with good sources. It's better than a confusing mess of an explanation this late at night. :)
  26. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    Just reading over everything in this thread to check I have all my marbles and the post you acutally stated "they both can be both" so...

    Adjective - state
    Passive verb sentence - action

    I was kindof seeing where maybe compressed can be static whereas finished cannot as that is an action that happens for a finite amount of time whereas when something is compressed it is then compressed for infinity, allowing the adjective... random logic maybe but anyway.

    Búðunum er skipt (back to this) now the camp is divided (by someone) was originally explained to me as such simply because skipta is dative, so to put the thing that is divided INTO focus (i.e. make a passive sentence) the rule was to put the object in dative and use the neutral past participle. I fully understand that, but now I feel like you are saying that Búðirnar eru skiptir (by someone) is an exact equivalent leaving no reason for this dative use?
  27. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    You can't just take something I said about one class of things and then apply it to something else like that.
    I think the best way is to say that it can be used in a personal and impersonal construction.
    In some senses when it has a subject that does the action ljúka, it's a personal usage.
    However when you talk about something finishing, then that becomes the subject of the construction
    So, it's completely different in some sense to how þjappa saman works.
    Because in other cases when you make a passive, the object becomes the subject and this is the way you do the transformation, with ljúka this doesn't need to happen a lot because the way it works is that it becomes the dative subject of the verb. Because of that alternation, there is no room or way you can make a passive out of it, because when you take out an agent (doer of the action) and an object, then it goes to the subject, which is like how English works.

    The course finished today
    Námskeiðinu lauk í dag

    Compare that with:

    *The files compress
    The files are being compressed
    Someone/something compresses the file

    You use a passive when it makes no sense to have the thing the action happens to as the subject, which is in a lot of cases in Icelandic (because as I've said before, Icelandic is quite sensitive to reflecting what we can call 'event structure' i.e. doers and receivers of actions of verbs). So, you trying to apply this common rule to ljúka is like trying to say that because you can say "The boy hit the ball -> The ball was hit by the boy" that therefore it's fine to say "The course was finished by him today" which sounds really weird for pretty similar reasons in English.

    If you want a new construction to apply the correct logic to, try að loka.

    Maðurinn lokaði dyrunum.
    Dyrunum var lokað (.. af e-u)
    Dyrnar voru lokaðar (the door was in a state of being shut).

    Note that dyr/door is used in the plural in Icelandic.
  28. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    So in your námskeiðinu lauk í dag... is lauk complying with the dative form of námskeiðinu to form the 3rd person rather than the do'er? I don't know if i'm getting totally confused or just cause you know it it seems obvious, but this is an entirely new thing to me, it's like breaking ALL the rules I thought I knew :p While I get what your saying, I assumed that having it like this was ALREADY IN the passive, it was okay to say that this was more acceptable, sounds better, more used etc... but to say this isn't the passive is what is confusing me.

    I mean analyzing the sentence "course finished today" is in my mind a passive construction. Hmmm, this is mind fucking. Hold up let me get this right in my head. I mean you are saying it isn't passive right? That's what I take when you said "There is no room or way you can make a passive out of it". I mean þessu er lokið is the passive is it not?

    Maybe to sort this out you could just write a few example with what they are listed next to it. Would really help.. e.i. (ahskjdhfjsdf - governs dative in passive, ajhskjhdf - governs dative in.. etc...) just different forms of this beast.

    I fully understand your dyrunum examples, completely. Not sure if I'm reading wrong but I don't think you have concluded whether or not I can use Ljúka in an adjective state like anything else.
  29. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    It can't be passive because there is no verb 'to be' here.
    I can totally sympathise on the confusing aspect though.
    Okay you need to fine-tune your understanding of passive.
    I mean you're not totally wrong, but there is an important difference you need to grasp.

    The course was cancelled
    The course finished
    *The course was finished

    One is passive, the other one is not.
    You can only get a state-reading in English from the last sentence, not a passive event meaning.

    Take a typical example of the alternation pattern between doer of action (agent) and receiver of action ('patient').
    In English you can say:

    He drowned her.
    She drowned.

    See the same alternation? One is a subject performing the action and in the second, there is a semantic patient but a syntactic subject (i.e. 'she' is the subject in 'she drowned' but it's the action that actually happens to her, she doesn't do any drowning. Icelandic typically has word pairs for doers and receivers. If you cause someone else to drown, the verb is drekkja but if you drown yourself, it's drukkna.

    Hann drukknaði:tick:
    Hann drekkti henni:tick:

    *Hún drekkti:cross:
    *Hann drukknaði hana:cross:

    To name some other pairs there are frjósa/frosna, bræða/bráðna, kæfa/kafna and the list goes on and on. Some verbs don't do this, some only exist in one form, it's a bit of a mess to understand the whole system and I'm still way off from being able to comfortably describe it, but this is definitely an aspect an eager learner would need to be aware of. Anyway, ljúka sort of does this alternation with itself by having dative subject as a semantic object or by having normal dative object (when somebody else does the action). For that reason, it's not really common to find a passive. I don't want to say it's impossible, though I find it improbably. It's out of my league to be that categorical in my judgments here.

    So, once you understand those verb pairs, you'll then be able to understand how ljúka has both those things going on in one verb form.
  30. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    When you have a usage that requires a subject to be in the dative, then there is no difference between forms and without context you can't just put that sentence in and find a way to label it one thing or another.
    But what would you want it to mean? Finished? Completed? I think it's theoretically possible to contrive an example but I don't think people really do. You're more likely to use búinn or the related verb loka if you wanted to use it as an adjectival state. Now that is something you'd just have to know. No systematic logic in the world would give you that sort of knowledge, which is what I think you were trying to apply before. I'm just saying, learn the quirk when it comes to ljúka.

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