Icelandic: Strong on Definite

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by ShakeyX, Nov 5, 2013.

  1. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    Windows 8.1 update:

    Í endurhannaðri Windows-netversluninni

    I've asked about this before, and been told that it may happen, but this is the first time i've come across it (from what I deem a reliable source as it is Windows... :p)

    So why do we have the strong "Redesigned" with the definite "Net Shop"

    I would of expected endurhönnuðu to fit in with the standard rules, so what is the implication here, why the difference?
  2. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    In the conditions where you have an adjective as modifier to a noun phrase, that is also in some sense descriptive, in some cases it is used to provide more information about a description of something that is being introduced into the conversation, rather than categorising and singling out one item from a group of potential referents that has that description, which is what the weak declension is used for. It's not possible for an adjective like gamall (I'm not sure why) but (as I've said before) you can't pick up a novel in Icelandic without seeing this everywhere, because it's all about introducing descriptions and reporting new information. Probably because it's tiresome to constantly add sem var [adjective] after introducing almost every noun.

    I know you know this already though, so I'm not sure why exactly you're asking the question, but the answer is the same. :)

    Í endurhannaðri Windows-netversluninni = Í Windows-netversluninni sem er/var endurhönnuð
    Í endurhönnuðu Windows-netversluninni = Í endurhönnuðu Windows-netversluninni (ekki sú úrelta)
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2013
  3. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    Ah that bit about potential referents really helped made it clear, i think :p let me test.

    So what you are saying is, if we were having a meeting, about the old system and the redesigned shop system, and we had been on this topic for quite some tome (i.e. both systems have already been introduced into conversation) then it would be pointless to say "The shop which was redesigned" i.e. endurhönnuð verslunin but rather just endurhannaða verslunin, as we are referring to "THE REDESIGNED ONE" whereas this is introducing an entirely new topic and saying it has been redesigned. Any truth there?
  4. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    I think you might be mixing things up there, you used an i.e. but then the weak declension when I think you meant strong.

    Think about it this way. When we use attributive adjectives in English, there is an unnoticed layer of ambiguity of what we mean exactly given we don't make a distinction. If I invite you into my house and I say, "Look at the shiny tiles," then I'm not distinguishing the tiles from any other tiles, I'm telling you here that this is new information and there is one set of tiles, and I want you to know they are shiny. This is a general attributive meaning of the adjective. Now, if I walk into another room where there are old (non-shiny) and new shiny tiles, then I can say, "Look at the object next to the shiny tiles." What I mean here is different because I'm using the adjective as a way to indicate to you that there is ambiguity and I'm giving you the adjective for it to be clear what tiles I mean, and what tiles I don't mean. This is called the afmarkandi merking in Icelandic.

    If you think of English's, "Can I go?" which can be ability or asking for permission, Icelandic has a more fine distinction which renders permission with mega and ability with geta.
    It's similar here. We don't have adjective declension so we lose this ability and either just go without it or explicitly use "...which is/was [adjective]" to point out a quality rather than make a distinction from other potential referents. As I said earlier, it's not extremely common and there is more going on with the type of adjectives that can be used that I'm not sure about, so I imagine in some cases it might not always be so clear cut, but that's what the linguists say.
  5. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    Before I read that and confuse myself even more, in the i.e. I used endurhönnuð which is the strong bending.

    So what I was saying is the strong bending is used; Hér er endurhönnuð verslunin (Here is the shop which is redesigned) if you are introducing a new thing but...

    Hér er endurhannaða verslunin (Here is the redesigned shop) if you are showing something which has already been discussed and labelled as redesigned.

    Will read now, but just wanted to make clear that this is how I intended it,
  6. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Ah, I thought you used a different form. My bad.
    I'd advise you use 'declension' instead of 'bending'. 'Bending' doesn't make sense in English the way that beyging makes sense in Icelandic.
    Icelandic modelled the term after 'declension', which did mean 'bend' in Latin, but it's just not what is used in English to describe this.
  7. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    Ah okay :)

    So is what I have surmised in the last post correct?

    Strong on Definite for newly introduced things (nýr bíll - The car which is new), but if something has already been introduced and described then it would be strange to reintroduce it's qualities... better to just label is qualities as an identifying feature (nýji bíll - The new car - as opposed to other cars or reintroducing the item).

    Sound about right?
  8. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English

    Well, nýr bíll is just a new car.
    I think you're on the right lines, but missing an article in the second example on bíll.

    Just don't make this a huge big rule in your mind and start using as the default. The default way to decline adjectives is weak with article, strong without. Sometimes many examples will not seem to imply categorical distinction from other things, but it will still be used. Just have it in your mind when you see this structure, you know what it means. It would be wrong for you to automatically make this the default in your mind unless it was very clear that there was a collection of other ambiguous things that could be referred to. It's more of a possible quirk - not a rule.
  9. ShakeyX Senior Member

    British English
    Exactly, just missed the article out of confusion!

    Yeh don't worry I just assumed this was for more fanciful writing and probably rarely used in daily speech, just wanted to know I was making the right distinctions.

    And do you mean first exmaple, nýji can imply that it is definite, and just a New Car with the weak declension, and then the first one nýr bíll is a new car, but nýr bíllinn, the car which is new.

    Sorry I know I confused that with my errors but just making sure.
  10. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    That's how I understand it.
    I remember being told it doesn't work for all adjectives (as I mentioned before, gamall seems to be a big no-no) so I really don't know where to draw the line. Nýr has so much in common in its characteristics (being the opposite of gamall) that I don't really see why one can work in a situation and another not. So, when wondering why one thing is okay but people might tell you another thing sounds awful, bear that in mind.

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