Scandinavian languages: subjunctive

Gavril

Senior Member
English, USA
In Icelandic, separate subjunctive forms of the verb are still alive and commonly used (e.g., is the subjunctive counterpart of er "is"). Is the subjunctive still common in any of the Scandinavian languages, whether in their written or spoken forms?

If not, are there any isolated subjunctive forms still in use (just as, for example, "correct" English still has the unique subjunctive form be, rather than is, are, etc.)?

Ta(c)k(k)
 
  • Åvävvla

    Member
    Swedish
    As far as I know it's pretty much dead in mainlaind Scandinavian, and has been for quite some time. In Swedish, for example, subjunctive still exist in set phrases such as tack vare, banne mig and in religious language (Herren välsigne er och bevare er). In case you read Swedish, you might want to read the Swedish Wikipedia entry konjunktiv.
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Føroyskt still has it in some expresses and productive uses in like one or two verbs, like Gudi signi Føroyar and Hann leingi livi!
    (Notice the final -r is missing from the regular mood, just like what happens in Icelandic)

    You can be productive with geva and hava, however:

    Gævi at hann skjótt kom heim (I wish that he'd come home soon)
    Gævi eg aldrin sá hatta .........(I wish I'd never seen that)
    Gævi hon vann..................... (I wish she'd win)

    Hevði tað nú gingist teimum væl (I wish that things would go well for them now)
    Hevði eg nú verið yngri............. (I wish I were younger)

    Again, here, you can see the similar classes of Icelandic verbs with the a->æ shift of Icelandic's "gefa" and a->e of Icelandic's "hafa" in the preterite subjunctive.
    That's it for Faroese though, regarding the subjunctive. In Standard Scandinavian, the subjunctive was lost a long long time ago.
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Alxmrphi - Subjunctive in the other Scandinavian languages not as much disappeared as merged with other forms - especially infinitive.
    Ah, that's what I'd call disappeared.
    Maybe others would disagree, but becoming indistinguishable with other moods is what I personally would classify as disappearing (i.e. the distinction separating it from other forms has been eliminated). It's like Old English having its plural words that didn't have -s then merging with the -s forms, I wouldn't say they still existed after they all merged together.
     

    NorwegianNYC

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    I can see that. However, subjunctive is sometimes still used, but I believe the declined was due similarities and confusion with other forms. Norwegian still uses the so-called 'hypothetical subjunctive', where a shift in the verb's tense creates a subjunctive meaning. This is similar to English ("If I were you" and "We would like to go now")
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Ah, that's what I'd call disappeared.
    Maybe others would disagree, but becoming indistinguishable with other moods is what I personally would classify as disappearing (i.e. the distinction separating it from other forms has been eliminated). It's like Old English having its plural words that didn't have -s then merging with the -s forms, I wouldn't say they still existed after they all merged together.
    In Norwegian the subjunctive forms certainly disappeared long time ago, but a periphrastic form of subjunctive constructions survived until the end of the last century, and is still used by older speakers (specially in writing).
    Old form: Jeg vil at du skal gjøre det.
    New form: Jeg vil at du gjør det.
     

    bicontinental

    Senior Member
    English (US), Danish, bilingual
    This is an interesting question Gavril . The conjugation of Danish verbs doesn´t include specific subjunctive or conditional verbal forms or moods, in other words there are no specific subjunctive verbal forms recognizable as such out of context. A subjunctive or conditional construction is therefore created by using the available verbal forms in a different tense (referred to as “verbalomskrivning”). This typically, although not exclusively, is done by using the past tense or the infinitive… very much comparable to what we see in modern English.


    -As such there is the hypothetical scenario:
    Hvis det skulle regne i morgen, vil udflugten være aflyst (the subjunctive: If it were to rain tomorrrow...)
    Hvis det regner i morgen, er udflugten aflyst (the indicative: If it rains tomorrow…)
    I would use number one if I feel it is very unlikely that it will rain. I checked the weather forecast and they predict sunshine all day tomorrow, but if it were to rain (nevertheless)…
    I would use number two if I feel there´s a possibility that it may rain. It´s been raining all week and if it rains (again) tomorrow…


    Hvis jeg var dig....(the subjuntive: If I were you)
    Kunne det tænkes, at han var morderen (the subjuntive: might it be possible that...)


    -To express wishes, hopes:
    Long live the Queen, the centenarian etc.Længe leve dronningen, den hundredårige osv.

    In religious contexts e.g. The Lord´s Prayer: Helliget vorde/være/blive dit navn, komme dit rige (Hallowed be Thy Name, Thy Kingdom come), Herren være med jer (The Lord be with you).
     
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    In Swedish, the subjunctive of the present tense is purely archaic, as in the biblical phrase "Varde ljus", May there be light. But the subjunctive of the past tense is still in active use in a few verbs: "Om jag vore, om jag finge", If I were, if I were allowed to.
     

    LilianaB

    Banned
    Lithuanian
    What about a construction: Det vore bra om du gjorde det? I thought that was just a conditional mood. How is it different from Om jag vore, om jag finge? Do you mean the latter forms are just polite expressions, as in: if you allow me to tell you, or something similar? Thank you.
     

    alato

    New Member
    Swedish
    What about a construction: Det vore bra om du gjorde det? I thought that was just a conditional mood. How is it different from Om jag vore, om jag finge? Do you mean the latter forms are just polite expressions, as in: if you allow me to tell you, or something similar? Thank you.
    There is a difference between

    Om jag vore du, skulle jag göra det, and
    Det vore bra om du gjorde det.

    is that in the former, vore occurs in the conditional clause, whereas it occurs in the main clause in the latter. Though you are right in that vore also expresses the conditional mood, and can replace skulle vara whenever this is used in a conditional sense. This is what happens in the second example. The conditional form skulle + infinitive is often also used without (explicit) conditions to express polite requests, and vore can be used in these situations as well. (Note however, that vore cannot replace skulle vara when this is used as future-in-the-past; *Igår skrev han att han vore bortrest idag is not correct Swedish.)

    What gives vore its subjunctive qualities in Om jag vore du, skulle jag göra det is that it expresses a counterfactual condition. The difference between Om jag vore du, ... and Om jag är du, ... is the same as the difference between the English If I were you and If I am you. Om jag är du, ... really concedes that I am you, and is probably rarely uttered in serious contexts.
     
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    alato

    New Member
    Swedish
    No, I'd just call that a conditional. So to clarify, I think the form vore has two meanings, only one of which is subjunctive.
     

    HappyDance9

    New Member
    English - United Kingdom
    So... if there were to be a subjunctive in Norwegian.. how would it be formed?

    Would it be formed using "skulle".
     

    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    The only "real" subjunctive you are likely to hear in Danish is when the priest says "Herren være med jer" - "May the Lord be with you". Even when Danes quote Star Wars they'd probably even use the original "May the Force be with you" and not whichever translation they had in the subtitles.

    No, subjunctive is made with auxiliary verbs or with other constructions like "Hvis bare jeg var rig". "Var" is probably what is left of a subjunctive and has lost the suffix that might distinguish it from the past tense. Hvis vi havde en konjunktiv, så behøvede vi ikke disse mærkelige konstruktioner, der kan forveksles med datid.

    Even English has more left - at least you can say "If I were rich" and not "If I was rich" - although some people say that too - but that would not work in Danish.
     

    myšlenka

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    So... if there were to be a subjunctive in Norwegian.. how would it be formed?

    Would it be formed using "skulle".
    It depends a lot on what meaning the subjunctive is meant to express. I can think of 3 different strategies which are used where French and/or German use subjonctif/Konjunktiv: 1) present indicative 2) past indicative 3) auxiliary verb: måtte, skulle, skal, ville...
     
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