Icelandic: Hvert förum við?

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by ShakeyX, Apr 24, 2013.

  1. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    Just reading a book on Icelandic and a chapter begins saying Hvert förum við? (Where are we going)...

    Now please someone explain this as carefully as possible because that just sounds flat out wrong to me.

    I would translate "Hvert förum við?" as "Where do we go" as in, what is the next step on this journey... Where are we going I feel is more like "Hvert erum við að fara?"

    The chapter then has loads of examples with things I just feel no one in iceland would ever say... "Ég fer upp á sjúkrahús" (stating this means: I am going to the hospital). Why not, "Ég er að fara upp á sjúkrahús".

    The only way I could possible translate ég fer... is "I go" to sort of mean "I will go". As I think I've seen some cases where future tense is implied just by not using the continuous að ... form.

    Last edited: Apr 24, 2013
  2. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    EDIT: Changed "uppi á" to "upp á". My bad.
  3. NoMoreMrIceGuy Senior Member

    Hvert erum við að fara? > Where are we going?
    Hvert förum við? > 'Where will we go?', or in some cases 'Which way do we go?'

    Ég er búinn að skipuleggja ferð fyrir okkur í sumar.
    Hvert förum við?

    Þið þurfið að tala við yfirmann deildarinnar.
    Hvert förum við?
    Upp stigann, þriðja hurð til hægri.

    Ég er að fara upp á sjúkrahús. (I'm going to the hospital)
    Ég fer upp á sjúkrahús tvisvar í viku. (I go to the hospital twice a week)
    Ég fer upp á sjúkrahús. María bíður mín þar. (I go to the hospital. Maria is waiting for me there) <- Narrative

    Hope that helps.
  4. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    Yes this helps.

    I guess I just find it strange then that the book would say "Ég fer upp á sjúkrahús" equals "I am going up to the hospital" (Maybe it can be said that the "Will" is implied and it's more of a going in the sense of will be going rather than the continuous sense of the "going" is happening right now?"

    I am correct in thinking that when you use the singular form it can imply the future? for example ... ég hringi í þig (I will ring you)? Can it mean that.

    Thanks, Jake
  5. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    I just want to urge you to be careful to not disassociate the present form to the perfectly natural translations of the progressive form in English.
    It's not the case that the main verb alone never means 'be + verb-ing' in English. On the contrary. The 'vera að' is an alternative (and sometimes the most common) but just like with the extreme vast majority of other European languages, it is in a lot of cases the default form. For example, you just can't say það er að rigna to mean 'it is raining' or 'ég var að sitja á gólfinu' to mean 'I was sitting on the floor' in any well-accepted form.

    What you've said makes me think that you are forcing a situations where a statement of intent is not what the English form shows, when in fact that's very often how we use it.
    "I'm going up to the hospital" can mean 'right now' or it can be how we state a plan, in which case it corresponds perfectly with the Icelandic form not in the 'vera ad' construction. "I will go up to the hospital later" and "I am going up to the hospital later" in many contexts mean exactly the same thing. You're throwing different nuances around but as relating to the essential meaning of intent, the translations are fine.
  6. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    True words, if this is the case then I guess I don't know which one to choose... right now lets say I'm talking to you and I want to say "Are we going to go downtown tonight?"

    By this logic does this mean I can say "Erum við að fara niður í bæ í kvöld?" or "Förum við niður í bæ í kvöld?" and it would have no difference? I'm struggling to know which one to say.
  7. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Hi again,
    I wrote a reply but I was quite unsure of whether it was correct or not so I removed it.
    You might need a native for this one. Best to not confuse things if my interpretation was wrong.
  8. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    Haha this is why I came to the forum in the first place, cause just as me in English, Natives have NO idea what is correct or even what they say themselves. I have queried several natives on this subject and get a different answer from all of them. This is why I guess I look for so accurate one to one translations because given the mood or situation the person I'm asking believes this phraze to be used in, can change entirely the answer they give. I've heard that both are okay, I've heard that Förum við is never ever used, I've heard by others that it should be used and að vera is like kids speak.

    The problem as always is you first need to lay out a scene in order for the correct english translation to come out, much like in Russian with Perfective/Imperfective verbs, I would always get the answer, BOTH are correct, but then when it came to using them in a particular situation I would always get told, no the other one is better.

    I don't know where to go from here :p
  9. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Yeah, there are some things that can be put out into nice tables and have nice little categories they can fit into, but as with non-idealised (i.e. grammar books) language, then it's just a case of observation atnd as time goes on you can oserve/copy. That's a luxury to have when living in that specific language community. Pick an option and gauge the responses. It's better (in my experience) to be as bookish as possible at first and then slide into colloquial language. I've had that experience with Italian, use full, complicated grammatical expressions and people will be happy to see foreigners using it and then use the slang and people will say you sound just like one of them, but all the time in both situations you have people saying, "No, you shouldn't really say that" (when it's what everyone uses) or people saying, "It's good, but it's just not how we speak." So it can be a bash-your-head-against-a-brick-wall sort of experience, but if you just know it will come in time and as long as you can get by, it'll be fine. I remember meeting a friend of a friend at the Trevi Fountain in Rome last year and saying something like "Ma comunque mi sarebbe piaciuto farlo" and the girl repeated exactly what I said really slowly and sort of did this click of her fingers and said it's embarrassing when foreigners speak better than the locals. Then saying something typically similar from someone else I got a chuckle and said, "You should say [x] to sound normal." There is no pleasing everybody so you just have to get on with it.

    Anyway, back on topic. For a suggestion to one of your questions, when you're making a suggestion that is not previously agreed, to translate "Are we going to go downtown tonight?" I think the best option is to use að ætla / að eiga for this. For an agreed statement where it's like you are checking the day I think I would expect að vera að and for a suggestion the inverted simple form. As you have already said, people don't agree so that is the first indication that there is not a set answer that everyone thinks is personally most appropriate.
  10. Þröstur New Member

    English, UK
    Whenever you are expressing some kind of future intention, it is most natural to use ætla, which does not necessarily need to be followed by fara when you are talking about going somewhere:

    Ætlum við niður í bæinn í kvöld?
    Are we going downtown tonight?

    Equally, you could just use the simple present tense:

    Förum við niður í bæ í kvöld?

    I don't think there is any practical difference in meaning in this context, although ætla does perhaps imply that the idea of going downtown has not been brought up before. In terms of "erum við að fara...", I think it does sound a bit "English" although it isn't wrong in anyway.

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