Norwegian: Mange tenker at billig mat er halvfabrikat og usunt.

  • raumar

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    That's a good question! It is possible, in some cases, to use the neuter form of adjectives even though the noun isn't neuter, usually when you describe food as good, healthy, unhealthy etc. See:
    2 Ny grammatikk - NTNU

    But "Billig mat er usunn" is also correct, and would work just as well in this sentence.

    By the way, the use of "tenker" in this sentence is traditionally seen as incorrect, but it has become widespread -- probably because of influence from English. I would prefer "tror", "synes" or "mener", depending on the context. See:
    Å tenke i tide og utide

    I was also surprised to see "halvfabrikat". I don't think I have ever seen this form of the word before, only "halvfabrikata". But when I checked my dictionary, I found that "halvfabrikata" is the plural definite form of this noun, while "halvfabrikata is plural indefinite.
     

    vidar

    Member
    English - England
    Just for clarity - the sentence was an example from a news article on VG. Maybe it's 'paper speak'?
     

    raumar

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    No. I don't think it's "paper speak". I found the article here, on TV2's website:
    Marie (25) og samboeren bruker til sammen 2000 kroner på mat i måneden

    Did you mean that "tenker" was "paper speak"? This use of "tenker" has spread far beyond newspapers. In this case I would have used "tror" (as in the next paragraph), because the author means to say that many people (incorrectly) believe that cheap food is unhealthy.

    Regarding the use of "halvfabrikat" , this might come from the person who is interviewed. She has a master's degree in public health science, so it may be professional jargon. I think most people would say "halvfabrikata", regardless of what the dictionary says. As winenous has shown, the other forms exist, but I have never seen them before.
     

    raumar

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    That's interesting. Yes, "Billig fisk er god" looks OK to me, but I would certainly not accept "Solformørkelse er fin", or "Ørret er god". In these cases it has to be the neuter form.

    So, why do I feel that "Billig fisk er god" is OK? I don't know the grammar here, but "Billig fisk smaker god" does not work at all -- here it has to be "godt". I think I see "Billig fisk er god" as parallel to "All mat er god" (as my mother used to tell me, when I was a child and did not like the food). Or maybe "Billig fisk er god" is a short version of "Billig fisk er god fisk".

    By the way, we have discussed some of these issues before:
    Norwegian: adjectives after unquantifiable nouns
     

    winenous

    Senior Member
    English - British
    Isn't "Billig fisk smaker godt" different to all the other examples, because in this context "godt" is an adverb?

    At a more serious grammatical level, it seems that gender shifts between mass and countable nouns occur in a number of languages. In Norwegian the obvious example that still exists is the word øl.

    I wonder if the use of neuter adjectives in the cases noted here are some sort of hangover of old gender changes, with the usage still not totally consistent.

    (Happy to be shot down on that speculation. My shallow knowledge on the subject comes from Mr Google, and this search hit:
    Nominal Classification
     

    raumar

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    because in this context "godt" is an adverb
    Of course! I should learn to think before I write. Again thanks for the correction!

    I wonder if the use of neuter adjectives in the cases noted here are some sort of hangover of old gender changes, with the usage still not totally consistent.
    Well, someone who knows more about the history of the Norwegian language should answer this. But I doubt that this is the case, because you see it for all kinds of masculine and feminine nouns.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top