Norwegian: 'that' with an adjective

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by vthebee, Sep 20, 2013.

  1. vthebee Senior Member

    English- Ireland

    In Norwegian, if I wrote a phrase such as 'the old car' I write it 'den gamle bilen' because when you use an adjective with a definite noun you need to add 'den/det/de'.
    But den/det/de also means 'that'. So if I see the phrase 'den gamle bilen' does it mean both 'the old car' and 'that old car' and its just the context that determines the correct translation?

    Last edited: Sep 20, 2013
  2. myšlenka Senior Member

    it depends on how the words are stressed. If den is unstressed, I'd translate the sentence as "the old car". If den is stressed, you would get "that old car". It's also possible to add an adverb like der to get the same effect: den gamle bilen der (but this requires that den is unstressed).
  3. Silver_Biscuit

    Silver_Biscuit Senior Member

    English - UK
    Just a P.S., vthebee, this is a multi-languague forum so in the title of your question you should first identify the language you are asking about (Norwegian: Using 'that' with an adjective).
  4. vthebee Senior Member

    English- Ireland
    Hi myslenka
    Thanks for your reply and clarifying the phrase for me.
  5. NorwegianNYC

    NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    Footnote: Whereas it is true what Myslenka says that stress will determine the meaning of den/det/de as either determiners or definite article, there is an additional element here. Norwegian uses the same words (den/det/de) both as determiners, articles and pronouns. This is because these words originally carried the same meaning. Technically, Norwegian does not distinguish between "the old car" and "that old car" - a feature also observed in English dialects. In English, the and that are also from the same root, and only more recently did they develop into two different forms (Old English had a whole array of articles/demonstratives). Semantically, the difference between the car and that car is also slim.

    In addition, den/det/de is linked to grammatical gender - a feature that still existed in English until the 1700s. In Norwegian, you can say about your car den er gammel, or you can say han er gammel. The latter is in reference to the grammatical gender of the word bil. You can say about a book jeg likte den, or jeg likte henne, since book is Feminine. By the same logic, "the old car", "that old car" and "he, the old car" carries the same meaning.
  6. vthebee Senior Member

    English- Ireland
    Dear NorwegianNYC
    Thanks for your reply!

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