Icelandic: skipt

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by ShakeyX, Jul 9, 2013.

  1. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    Búðunum er skipt í þrjú svæði:

    This is an article talking about the prisoner camp guantanamo.

    So Fangabúðirnar (The prisoner camps), if skipt is the past participle simply meaning "divided" or something simler, I am struggling to see why camp is in the dative and is not the nominative subject, as that is the thing which is "DIVIDED".
  2. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    You have verbs that assign different cases to their objects:
    1) Verbs that assign accusative
    2) Verbs that assign dative/genitive (rare)

    When you make a passive of verbs that assign accusative case to their objects, that works like an ordinary English passive (object case becomes nominative case):

    - He hit her -> She was hit by him.
    - Hann sló hana -> Hún var slegin af honum.

    Verbs that assign dative or genitive to their objects behave strangely. They keep their case forms (i.e. don't shift to nominative) and there is no agreement. There is only default third person singular (both in 'vera' and in the past participle form).

    Að skipta, as I'm sure you've worked out, assigns dative case to its objects.
    This means that when you make a passive sentence (which this is: someone divides the prison camps -> the prison camps are divided (by someone)), this happens.

    - The prison guards divide the compounds into three zones -> The compounds are divided into three zones (by the prison guards)
    - Fangaverðirnir skipta búðunum í þrjú svæði -> Búðunum er skipt í þrjú svæði (af fangavörðunum).

    It's tricky at first so if you've got any follow-up questions, then skjóttu.
    I put 'compounds' in the plural just to keep the fact that the noun was plural and to keep it matching, but I would have translated it in the singular.
    It's just plural because the Icelandic is and I think it's better to illustrate, when describing syntax, when the forms are more similar.
  3. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    Undestood, this is just question of grammar in general. As a linguist, would you say that in english or icelandic, in the passive snetence, hún var slegin, is the hún still called the OBJECT although it is just forced into the nominative case. I mean for you know.. discussion purposes, as it is passive it still feels like it is the object of a good "slá" but how would you describe it in this sense.

    Is there any reason you know of that the vera and pp conform to an unknown neutral third person?
  4. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Big question! The jury is out on that one at the moment. For teaching purposes, it helps to view transformed passives as having "subjects" but they are grammatical subjects and not really semantic subjects. Some linguists are happy to say they are grammatical subjects but use what are called semantic roles to define what the real subject/object are in a given example (because theoretically if you use two ways to describe the exact same action, nothing relating to who instigated or who received the action of a verb has changed). The syntax of Icelandic has gone a long way in the world of (a specific branch of) linguistics into forwarding this view that passive "subjects" do come from active-mood "objects". What you'd call them, however, is a matter that's complicated. Basically, it's just a matter of terminology and all anyone means by 'subject' is referencing a centuries-old tradition of calling something a subject. People love to bicker but at the end of the day it doesn't really matter at a non-theoretical level.

    I wouldn't see it as something agreeing with something unknown, like something is making it agree. It's more the same, yet the opposite. There is nothing to agree with, so the only way it can be formed is by what is assumed to be the default, so a non-gender specific (neuter) external (3rd person) theme. Agreement only happens when there is nominative case. So, if you have a verb like veita (to grant) and you're talking about granting a (financial) grant to someone, it's the type of object that determines agreement.

    Henni var veittur styrkur -> She was granted a scholarship.
    Henni var veitt gullmedalía -> She was awarded the gold medal.
    Henni voru veittir tveir styrkir -> She was granted two scholarships.
  5. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    In your 3 examples I kind of see it as... something (in nominative) was awarded (past participle) TO her (to someone is normally dative). So these make sense to me.

    Búðunum er skipt í þrjú svæði

    This, although I perfectly understand the rule, and ofcourse understood when reading it, I think it would be hard when writing to think up this construction. So go out on a whim and say if the action that was done, was done by someone or something that is omitted, it is possible to just say "Thing in dative" is done (by someone but thats not important but for arguments sake could be fólk... or is it better to just believe that the default is neutral and not worry about the omitted thing)
  6. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    I wouldn't try to imagine a connection between an omitted thing (but rather default neutral because of no nominative).

    It's a fine line to decide how to conceptualise stuff like this because on the one hand, you might have a handy way of imagining something that is useful in the short term, but then gets so deeply embedded in how you understand something that to undo it later on causes trouble and confusion, or go for the tricky confusion and something that might make it a bit harder in the present, but pays off in how you will understand all other uses. There will be cases when there just is no object to think of and no need to think of one so the absence might mean some things you see in the future are hard to break down, whereas not having a handy way to remember something in the early stages requires a lot more effort, but once you've got it down, you've got it down. To each their own in their learning methods, I guess. It's whatever you think will work for you.
  7. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    Yeh in short I always find it useful when there is a solid reason, which hidden at first but ends up complying with the other rules. This seems to not do that which is why it bums me out :p
  8. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Well, the reasons may be weird, but they're still reasons.
    Once it makes sense and your mind can decipher, understand and recreate it at a fast pace you'll appreciate the weird logic it has!
  9. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    I thought this kindof applies here, I get the sentence but I can't work out what is happening grammatically and wasnt sure if it was parrellel will the other exmaple. Could someone lay this out for me.

    Myndin fjallar í megindráttum um efni sem lengi hefur verið kvikmyndagerðarmönnum hugleikið,

    The picture (í megindráttum) deals with a subject/topic which has been, for a long time... film? something something.

    First could someone correct and fill in the blanks with a better translation and then could someone please explain what case everything is in the sentence. Why is kvikmyndagerðamönnum seemingly in the dative, I can't figure out this construction.
  10. Nemabrincar Member

    Myndin (nf) fjallar í megindráttum(þgf) um efni(þf) sem lengi hefur verið kvikmyndagerðarmönnum (þgf) hugleikið (nf)

    The film is(deals with) chiefly about matters (topic/subject) which for a long time have captivated the minds of filmmakers.

    Eitthvað (nf) er mér(þgf) hugleikið.

    Something is dear to me.

    Last edited: Jul 15, 2013
  11. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    So what is with the overly confusing order of the sentence, what are the clusters that have been switched due to sem, and is there any definition of hugleikið, what verb does it come form, what form is it now in?
  12. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Hugur = mind
    Hug- (as a prefix) = things relating to one's mind
    Að leika = to play

    So, if you put them together and come up with a past participle/adjective, you get hugleikinn.
    So if something is hugleikinn to you, then it plays on your mind.
    Things that play on your mind are things that interest you and things that are fond/dear to you.

    Because of 'sem' which introduces a new clause, the finite verb likes to go in the second position of that clause so adverbials generally move to that first position (here: lengi)
    So "(sem) hefur lengi verið' -> 'sem lengi hefur verið'.

    Nemabrincar gave a corresponding translation which I thought nicely laid out the correspondence in the translation.
    Taking into account this dative-nominative thing (which isn't passive like the rest of the thread), in that structure the subject goes first, that explains kvikmyndagerðarmönnum hugleikið.
    What other parts of the sentence structure seem weird?

    You have

    [Myndin fjallar um efni] - fairly simple, right?
    Breaking this phrase up is [í megindráttum] which means (as Nemabrincar said) 'chiefly' / 'mainly'.

    Then you have 'which has long been captivating to filmmakers' to finish it off, sem leaves a subject gap when used to introduce a relative clause and thus is filled by other adverbials if possible, so that moves 'lengi' into the first slot and then the finite verb (here hefur verið) into the second slot - then the only thing that is weird about the order is the 'interesting to filmmakers', which is the opposite to the way English would order it, but you know from experience that stuff like 'mér er kalt' with dative subjects and then complements that follow afterwards.

    When you front a verb before its subject, it has to be the next thing that follows.
    So the verb complex [hefur verið] occurring before kvikmyndagerðamönnum means it has to follow, then hugleikið afterwards.
    It's only optional to move verið with hefur in this case. The mandatory thing is the finite verb so you could also have 'sem lengi hefur kvikmyndagerðarmönnum verið hugleikið' but because of the 'weight' of the intervening noun (kvikmyndagerðarmönnum), it's stylistically preferable to not put too much 'weighted' stuff between things. So, don't think if you have 'lengi' first, you have to move 'hefur' and the past participle with it. That's not mandatory, but preferable if it means there is an easier way to process the sentence. It´s because it's all part of the same 'tense structure' (what I called a 'verb complex' before, i.e. has been/hefur verið) that means it can go with the finite verb when shifted, or not, no other items could do that.

    And finally it needs to be pointed out that this is stílfærsla and is not mandatory.
    It sounds better but when you have 'sem' which naturally leaves a subject gap, you can have the finite verb coming immediately after and then 'lengi' and go on as normal.
    I found an example to illustrate this:

    Last edited: Jul 16, 2013
  13. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    So just to condense what you said and clarify. This dative kvikmynda... word is not an example of the passive but rather just put in that form to mean "to them" and is due to.. what? the word hugleikað?
  14. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    It's not really 'due' to another word per se.
    It's just that hugleikið means (remember: it's only group-1 regular verbs that have past participles in -að and leika is a strong verb*) something like 'captivating' (in this case, as Nemabrincar said).
    So, in English, "it's captivating to me / it's captivating to filmmakers."

    There's no 'reason' beyond that dative case is used to translate to + noun.
    We'd say "captivating to filmmakers" and they say "kvikmyndagerðarmönnum hugleikið".
    No reason beyond that, really.

    *except for a tiny number group-2 weak verbs that end on a stem vowel that is accented, i.e. trúa and hlúa.
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2013
  15. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    Myndin fjallar í megindráttum um efni sem lengi hefur verið kvikmyndagerðarmönnum hugleikið

    So just to "unstylise it"

    sem hefur lengi verið hugleikið kvikmyndagerðarmönnum.

    Which has long been captivating to filmmakers. Makes so much more sense now, it was just trying to work out the way to unjumble it for english use.

    Your answers have been much help, thanks for giving the WHY for everything also.
  16. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Yeah, that's a good way to make a parallel version with how it'd be in English to 'unravel' it so-to-speak. :thumbsup:
    Glad it makes sense now!

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