Icelandic: case of a noun after "nafn(ið)"

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by Gavril, Oct 25, 2012.

  1. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA

    On the Wikipedia entry for “Haukur”, the cases of the nouns after “við” don’t seem to match:

    In the first phrase, fuglategundina hauk, both nouns are in the accusative (as I would expect after við). But, in the second phrase, mannsnafnið Haukur, the first noun mannsnafnið is in the accusative, while the second noun Haukur is in the nominative.

    (Technically, I don't think it's possible to tell whether mannsnafnið is nominative or accusative, but I imagine that the accusative was intended here.)

    Should the second phrase be mannsnafnið Hauk, since it has the same relationship to the preposition við as the first phrase? Or, is it correct to keep Haukur in the nominative here?

    Last edited: Oct 25, 2012
  2. Merkurius Senior Member

    Well it's not correct but it is acceptable. You can say „Getur átt við mannsnafnið Haukur.“ but it's correct to say „Getur átt við mannsnafnið Hauk.“
    I had to think about a way to prove my case and I think I did so by changing the sentence (without changing the meaning) i.e. „Getur átt við hundinn Sigurð.“ You would never say „Getur átt við hundinn Sigurður.“
    So conlusion: You are allowed to say „Getur átt við mannsnafnið Haukur“ as a reference to Haukur, but it's correct to say „Getur átt við mannsnafnið Hauk.“
  3. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Sæl(l?) Merkurius,

    On the other thread, you wrote,

    But what is the relevant contextual difference between

    Getur átt við mannsnafnið Hauk
    Ég hef ekki heyrt nafnið Móheiður í mörg ár


    Does it have to do with the verb (heyra vs. eiga við), with the preceding noun (nafnið vs. mannsnafnið), or with another factor?


    What do you mean by "hinn" in the phrase til að rugla hinn?

    (I believe the specific term in English for this kind of phrase ("orðið fnjóskur", "nafnið Haukur", etc.) is appositive. If you open up a big enough Icelandic dictionary, you'll almost certainly find a translation of this term. :))
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2012
  4. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    The term you're looking for is viðurlag. It's a type of fylgiorð that you see in Icelandic and the rules typically state that normally they take on the case of the aðalorð that they are connected to. This would be grouped with what's called the lýsingarviðurlag I believe. Anyway, they are classed as either being fast (fixed) or laust (loose). This example of using the name afterwards is what's called a fast viðurlag (fixed appositive) and therefore is in scope of the case that its related aðalorð is in (as you see in the name example). The example with orðið that you mentioned in the other thread is a laust viðurlag (loose appositive) and as Merkurius said, once orðið has got its case, the appositive then appears outside of the same case rules and in the default nominative. You usually see these with typical comma-usages when separated, but this also extends to this tighter sort of relationship of modification (i.e. specifying the details of the aðalorð).
  5. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Just a minor note: I suspect that the standard translation of fast viðurlag is "close appositive" rather than "fixed appositive": "close apposition" brings up 109,000 results on Google, whereas "fixed apposition" brings up only 347.

    (Neither brings up many results if you replace "apposition" with "appositive", but it's still 268-1 in favor of "close" :).)

    We're still waiting for Merkurius' response, but as far as you know, what (in the semantics or syntax of a sentence) would determine the choice between laust / fast viðurlag?
  6. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    I've got no idea what it would be in English. I just guessed when I put in the translation in brackets as an approximation so if you do see something more popular then no doubt it will the standard.
    Are we? I kind of got the impression the answer was 'experience'. :cool:
  7. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Sæll Alxmrphi,

    The PM you sent me a little while ago made me wonder about whether case agreement is part of the contrast between „föst viðurlög” and „laus viðurlög”. I tried to Google some examples of each category, and all the ones I’ve seen thus far are distinguished by the presence (laus) or absence (föst) of a comma (of which the spoken equivalent would be a pause or similar).

    I also found this definition of „laust viðurlag” online:

    „Ath. líka laust viðurlag (einkennist af sérstöku tónfalli, afmarkað með kommu)”

    I would expect noun phrases separated by a comma to be independent of each other in terms of case marking, and since part of the definition of „appositive” (as I understand it) is that two or more constituents have the same grammatical role in the sentence, that would imply that the elements in a laust viðurlag have identical case marking as well.

    So, I wonder if lack of case agreement (as in „ég hef ekki heyrt nafnið Móheiður ...”) occurs in a subcategory of close (föst) appositives rather than in loose ones. Where have you read that close appositives generally show case symmetry, and loose apositives generally don't?

    (English is not the best language to use for examples of case agreement or lack thereof, but if "A" below is a close appositive and "B" a loose one, I would expect the case ending to be repeated only in B:

    A. "What's the name of your friend John's wife, again?"
    B. "What's the name of your friend's -- John's -- wife, again?")

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