Just started Learning Swedish - First Question ?

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by garydpoole, Oct 5, 2017.

  1. Hello all

    I've just started learning Swedish this week and am aware of the subtle way in the subject and verb can swap positions if a sentence starts with something other than the subject.

    However, I've just encountered this simple phrase:

    Julia har ett sovrum, och det har Jesper också.

    But I can't work out in this example, the reason why after the "och", subject / verb inversion has occurred ?

    Any help with the above would be much appreciated !


  2. AutumnOwl Senior Member

    Even if it looks like a case of subject/verb inversion in the second half of the phrase it actually isn't, as there are two subjects in it. The word "det" in Swedish can function as a subject, and it's called formellt subjekt while "Jesper" is egentligt subjekt. It's one of the mystifications of the Swedish language. You can read about it here: Vad är subjekt? | Satsdelar.se
  3. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    [Quote wisely and trim to the relevant part]
    If "det" is the subject so what is "Jesper" in this sentence? An object?
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 12, 2017
  4. Cliff Barnes Senior Member

  5. myšlenka Senior Member

    This phenomenon does exist in Swedish, but it does not apply in this case. This is a case of inversion. Det is the object while Jesper is the subject.
  6. That's good to hear as my translation of the sentence was, "Julia has a bedroom and Jesper has it as well".

    Assuming this is a case of inversion, which part of the sentence is actually triggering the inversion ?

    And I'm only on chapter 2 :confused:
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 12, 2017
  7. myšlenka Senior Member

    It is a case of inversion and is triggered by putting the object at the front. Thus it is an instance of what you wrote in the opening question: subject and verb can swap positions if a sentence starts with something other than the subject.
  8. DerFrosch

    DerFrosch Senior Member

    I would translate the sentence as "Julia has a bedroom and so has/does Jesper".
  9. raumar Senior Member

    Oslo, Norway
    I believe that a better English translation would be "Julia has a bedroom, and so has Jesper". So you can find inversion in this kind of sentence in English as well.

  10. Ok, I think that I've got my head around this - "det" is an object pronoun and it has replaced, "sovrum" which was originally the object of, "Julia har en sovrum...". And because "det" is not the subject of the sentence, inversion has occurred ?

    However, to be honest, I'm having a problem making the jump to this subtle change in translation as I seem too preoccupied with translating the pronoun, "det" as "it" ?

    I guess when I become more familiar with the language, this will all make more sense !

    Many thanks
  11. raumar Senior Member

    Oslo, Norway
    My problem with "Julia has a bedroom and Jesper has it as well" is that it looks like Julia and Jesper share the same bedroom. Al least it looks that way to me, but that may of course be because I'm not a native English speaker. Maybe you should think of "det" as "that" rather than "it", but other people on this forum can explain the grammar much better than I can.
  12. After some further reading, I've discovered that "det" can not only act as a pronoun and replace a single noun, but can also replace a complete phrase or clause.

    Hence, would I be correct in thinking that in the original quotation:

    Julia har ett sovrum, och det har Jesper också.

    "Det" is actually replacing, "ett sovrum", not just "sovrum". Hence, "Julia has a bedroom and Jesper has a bedroom (or "one") too" ?

    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 12, 2017
  13. Parlons Suédois Member

    I'd say that phrases of the form "... och det <verb> <person> också" follow a fixed formula which defies grammatic analysis, where 'det', if anything, refers to the entire preceding phrase (in this case "har ett sovrum"), much like 'so' in "...and so does <person>".
  14. elroy

    elroy Sharp-heeled Mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    :tick: Julia has a bedroom, and so does Jesper.
    :cross: Julia has a bedroom, and so has Jesper.

    This really isn't as complicated as some people are making it seem.

    You could say (although you probably wouldn't):

    Julia har ett sovrum, och ett sovrum har Jesper också.

    All that's happening here is that "det" is replacing "ett sovrum." Yes, "det" has numerous other functions, but they're not relevant here.

    This is not like "so." "So" replaces the entire verb phrase, whereas "det" here replaces the object only.

    Julia has a bedroom and so does Jesper. ("so" replaces "have a bedroom")
    Julia har ett sovrum, och det har Jesper också. ("det" replaces "ett sovrum")

    "So does Jesper" is an idiomatic translation, but a translation that better reflects what's going on in the Swedish is:

    Julia has a bedroom, and Jesper has one too.

    There are only two differences between the Swedish and the English constructions:

    1.) Swedish uses "det" (literally, "that") whereas English uses "one."
    2.) In English, starting with the object would be highly marked and completely unidiomatic in most contexts.
  15. anderslilja New Member

    No, you could not say:

    Julia har ett sovrum, och ett sovrum har Jesper också.

    In order for this structure to work, "ett sovrum" would have to be replaced by "det".

    It isn't a case of something you could, but would rarely be, used. It would simply be wrong.
  16. elroy

    elroy Sharp-heeled Mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Even in a poetic context?

    In English, it would definitely work in a poem:

    Julia has a room, and a room has Jesper also.

    Here's a real example from the song "Zacchaeus was a wee little man":

    Zacchaeus was a wee little man, a wee little man was he.
  17. DerFrosch

    DerFrosch Senior Member

    Personally, I don't really think it's stranger than "Julia has a room, and a room has Jesper also".

    According to this site, "has" is used in British English:
    Can you confirm this, garydpoole? Would you use "does" or "has"?
    Neither is it quite as straightforward as you make it seem. :)
    Consider the following sentence:
    Jag bor ensam, och det gör min bror också. (I live alone, and so does my brother.)
    The first clause, "Jag bor ensam", has neither an object nor a subject complement which "det" could replace. Instead, "det" refers to the verb phrase.
  18. British English theoretically would be, "Julia has a bedroom and so has Jesper".

    However, to be honest, you're more likely to hear, "...and so does Jesper" !

    But it would always be, "Julia likes pizza and so does Jesper".
  19. elroy

    elroy Sharp-heeled Mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Sure, and that's a different construction. ;)

    I didn't mean to suggest that the whole topic of det substitution was simple; I meant to say that in this particular case it's pretty straightforward.
  20. DerFrosch

    DerFrosch Senior Member

  21. Sepia Senior Member

    High German/Danish
    Could it be that you all totally missed mentioning the main weird difference between a English and other Scandinavian languages - that the "det + verb" is necessary because it is describing a general fact or circumstance? Something that works in a different fashion in English.
    (And the "English and OTHER Scandinavian ..." was deliberate.)
  22. DerFrosch

    DerFrosch Senior Member

    So...you're saying that English is a Scandinavian language? :confused:
  23. Wilma_Sweden

    Wilma_Sweden Senior Member

    Lund, Sweden
    Swedish (Scania)
    Yup, English syntax is decidedly Germanic, and some scholars put it in the Northern Germanic rather than Western Germanic box. The fact that roughly half of the English vocabulary is of Latin origin makes no difference. Sadly I don't have any source to cite at the moment as I can't remember their names, but will post back when I've had time to google scholarly.
  24. DerFrosch

    DerFrosch Senior Member

    I'm not following you. Even if you would categorize English as a North Germanic language (which I've never heard of before), how does that make it a Scandinavian language? Frankly, the mere suggestion seems quite absurd to me.
  25. Brannoc Member

    British English
    I was under the impression in a recent thread that it went back to old English as it was similar to old Norse....
  26. DerFrosch

    DerFrosch Senior Member

    What went back to Old English?
  27. Segorian Senior Member

    Icelandic & Swedish
    The notion that English is a Scandinavian language (that was influenced by, but eventually replaced, Old English) is a fringe hypothesis advanced by Jan Terje Faarlund and Joseph Emonds. Their arguments do not seem to hold up to scrutiny. In particular, their main claim appears to be that a number of similarities between Scandinavian and English grammatical structures are more reasonably explained by a common origin than by borrowing between languages. But then this “Scandinavian” language that we call English would have had to borrow from Old English a much larger number of grammatical structures—which it has in common with that language, but not with any of the Scandinavian languages—thereby contradicting the fundamental claim.

    In any case, the evolution of Old English into Middle and then Modern English is well documented historically.

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