Swedish: än and ännu

fab_

Senior Member
English- Ireland
I just came across these sentences:

1. Den är inte sju än

2. Den är inte två ännu

They both seem to mean 'yet' as in 'It is not 7 yet' and 'It is not 2 yet' but since they are different words - än and ännu- I am wondering is there a subtle difference in meaning between them?
 
  • Lars H

    Senior Member
    Tricky question, this one...

    First. The word "än" could be used as "than". "Erik är längre än Stina"
    Second, it could be used in expression like "än en gång" (once more, again)
    Third, it could be used as "even". Sedan snöade det än mer. (And the it snowed even more).
    Fourth, without being absoluely sure, I believe that in your clock example, "än" is basicly a short form of the correct word "ännu".
    The -nu ending meaning "now", gives us :It's not two, even now.

    A bit off topic, the clock is one of few things that is still (often, not always) treated as femininum; "Hon är sju" (She is seven).
     

    fab_

    Senior Member
    English- Ireland
    A bit off topic, the clock is one of few things that is still (often, not always) treated as femininum; "Hon är sju" (She is seven).

    Just want to check I get what you mean! Do you mean that you can say "hon är sju" in the same way you can say "den är sju"?
    So that either way is the same thing really?
     

    Lars H

    Senior Member
    Yes

    Klocka, as kvinna (woman), flicka (girl) or kviga (young cow) are feminin words. The plural form is "-or" as in "klockor".

    In most cases, the use of masculine or feminin gender in Swedish has declined. It's mostly "det" or "den" today. But "klocka" is one of very few words where the feminin form is still alive. For other originally feminin words, like "spricka (crack), we would never use "hon".

    So if it's about time, both "hon är sju" or "den är sju" works fine. But the machine that hangs on the wall is a "den". Confusing? I'd guess so :)
     

    fab_

    Senior Member
    English- Ireland
    It was initally confusing as I've been learning nouns as being 'en' nouns or 'ett' nouns, and not so much by whether they were feminine or masculine. But I know what you mean now. Those are nouns I have actually learned already except kviga!!

    It's similar in Irish. For example car which = "carr" is a masculine word but is referred to as a 'she', e.g. she broke down/it broke down.
     

    Lars H

    Senior Member
    It's similar in Irish. For example car which = "carr" is a masculine word but is referred to as a 'she', e.g. she broke down/it broke down.

    Perhaps you can blame the Norsemen for calling a car "she":
    Carr = Sw. kärra (cart, slang for automobile), Icel. kerra (en kärra, två kärror, meaning feminin form). The word is old in Scandinavia, but it has the same Gaul origin as the Irish "carr".
     

    Tjahzi

    Senior Member
    Swedish (Göteborg)
    The distinction between än and ännu is indeed tricky. I would say, that the adverb ännu, has the meanings two, three and four described by Lars above. Those meanings are also shared by än. However, additionally, än can be used as a conjunction (as described by Lars in the first example), that usage is not possible with ännu.

    An example of their combined usages can by illustrated through rewriting the first of Lars' example sentences: Erik är ännu längre än Stina. - Erik is even taller than Stina.


    Regarding the time, I must strongly object to the clock being referred to as hon. I never use this form, nor do I ever hear it. If I still would, it would be from an elderly person and I would consider the usage to be very old fashioned/dialectal.

    I would like to point out, however, that the above does not necessarily contradict Lars. It could very well be the case that we come from dialects/sociolects/kronolekter that are so different in this regard.

    Also, I believe Irish Carr to be a loan of English car, despite the latter being loaned from Latin but of Celtic origin.

    And finally, I find it very interesting, and even more so, confusing in fact, that a masculine noun would be referred to as she. Could you please explain that further? (quickly before the mod catches us!) :)
     
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    fab_

    Senior Member
    English- Ireland
    Also, I believe Irish Carr to be a loan from English car, despite the latter being loaned from Latin and but of Celtic origin.

    And finally, I find it very interesting, and even more so, confusing in fact, that a masculine noun would be referred to as she. Could you please explain that further? (quickly before the mod catches us!) :)

    hi Tjahzi, thanks for your reply. I'm not too sure that carr derives from the English as we also have the old word 'cairt' in Irish which is similar to your own 'cart' in Swedish and our 'cairt' is now a slang word for a banger (an old car!) or else it can mean an old cart. But it may be from the English, I just never looked on it in that way.

    Yep, I cannot obviously elaborate on examples from Swedish re. masculine noun referred to as 'she' but it's common here. The gender is begotten from the actual spelling of the word in Irish so words ending on a broad consonant like án are masc. and despite that it's not adhered to in spoken or written language when you are using pronouns like sí, í, etc. - that is when saying 'it is/she is/that it is' etc. You would see the masculine sense only with the definite article and in the genitive.

    It has also carried on into our English. If you are referring to anything like a new car, washing machine, etc. it is very common in Ireland to say "she's only mighty (great)" regardless of gender, and I guess this is an example of our Hiberno English. I'm not sure if this exists in UK English.

    It's lovely for me to see these similarities between our languages.
     

    Tjahzi

    Senior Member
    Swedish (Göteborg)
    I thought that considering the influence of English over Irish, especially at the time when automobiles came around, it seemed likely for such a word to be loaned from English. This is just an assumption, or a qualified guess at best, however.

    Having noticed your confusion regarding Swedish genders in the other thread regarding the clock I would like to add the following.

    Technically speaking, Swedish has four genders. These are: masculine animate (han), feminine animate (hon), utrum (that is, masculine+feminine inanimate) (den) and neuter (det). This means that living people are referred to as han/hon (obviously depending on gender), utrum (former masculine and feminine inanimate) nouns as den and neuter as det. The former three are usually considered to be the same (despite having different pronouns) since their adjectives take the utrum forms (the former two obviously don't take any definite articles - the usual way to determine the gender of a noun).
    Animals can be referred to as den, or possibly han/hon if the gender is (well) known, such as in the case of a pet. The more emotionally close a speaker is of an animal, the more likely is he/she to refer to it (him/her) as hon/han.
    I suppose this whole situation corresponds very much to the one in English, with the difference being that there are two ways to say it (namely den and det).

    In some dialects/sociolects/etc. there are a few exceptions to this, such as the clock and possibly ships, still, being able to be referred to as hon. That is not the case in my parole however, and I believe it would be fair to say that this is a habit that is falling out of use rapidly.

    The previous adjectival distinction between masculine and feminine is occasionally upheld while speaking (this is done through changing the standard utrum definite suffix -a to -e for masculine animate "nouns" (that is, "nouns" which would take pronoun han (example of such nouns are mannen, pojken or hunden (given that the latter is of masculine sex))). This, too, varies from speaker to speaker and again I would say that this is also falling out of use, although nowhere near as quickly, especially not in the spoken language.


    So, from there, I would conclude that an inanimate noun would never be referred to as han in Swedish (possibly as hon, but that would sound odd to me) and hence I doubt anyone can find corresponding examples in Swedish. :D (Yes, that was what triggered me to write the summary above.)


    Now to your Irish examples. I'm not sure that I understood, am I correct if I get the impression that you desist from using the masculine pronoun for masculine nouns in favor for the feminine? If so, how did this come to happen?

    Also, on a side note, does "broad" (and "slender"?) consonants correspond to what would in Slavic linguistics are referred to as "hard" and "soft", that is velarised and palatalised consonants?
     

    fab_

    Senior Member
    English- Ireland
    You might be right about that particular word I cannot be 100% but in general even when cars were first introduced into Ireland Irish was a hell of a lot stronger than it is now and so not many words by that time came directly from English. Of course it's a different story with the recently and newly coined official language terms that have come into being in modern times. But yeah in terms of the day to day Irish the infuence from English isn't that great really. The only thing is the English words being increasingly used to subsitute certain Irish words, but that's another story!

    Regards broad and slender consonants, Irish has two complete sets of consonant sounds whereas most European languages have only one sort of b, c, d, f etc. So we have the two sorts as can be seen with words like 'beo', 'bí' and 'bó' , 'buí'.

    The 'b' in beo and bí is 'slender' or palatalised whereas the sort of 'b' in bó and buí is 'broad' or non- palatised. I guess that corresponds to Slavic languages hard and soft or is an equivalent when pronounced.
     

    fab_

    Senior Member
    English- Ireland
    Now to your Irish examples. I'm not sure that I understood, am I correct if I get the impression that you desist from using the masculine pronoun for masculine nouns in favor for the feminine? If so, how did this come to happen?

    Sorry just to clarify this. It is only for a small number of masculine nouns as some things it applies to will already be a feminine noun. It seems to occur when talking about the weather or machines in the main. I'm trying hard to find more examples of when 'she' is used. This is in English too by the way. Instead of us saying 'it broke down' you can say 'she broke down' - whether this is English or Irish.

    It's common in the country side and country towns, not so much in Dublin so it will eventually fall out of use probably.
     

    Lars H

    Senior Member
    Technically speaking, Swedish has four genders. These are: masculine animate (han), feminine animate (hon), utrum (that is, masculine+feminine inanimate) (den) and neuter (det). This means that living people are referred to as han/hon (obviously depending on gender), utrum (former masculine and feminine inanimate) nouns as den and neuter as det. The former three are usually considered to be the same (despite having different pronouns) since their adjectives take the utrum forms (the former two obviously don't take any definite articles - the usual way to determine the gender of a noun).



    Previously the four genders were: masculine (han), feminine (hon), reale (den) and neuter (det).
    Them came utrum. This is basicly a consequence of the fact that the use of masculine and feminine forms has declined over the years. So utrum is in practice the sum of all reale and (almost) all masculine and feminine words.

    But I am not entirely happy with utrum as a gender. Correct me if I'm wrong, but are there any specific utrum rules of how to inflect nouns, except for that they not should be treated as neuter? Isn't the utrum rules only the sum of the rules of masculinum/femininum/reale?

    In everyday speech this doesn't matter.

    But in linguistics, there is little help to know that a word happens to be utrum. A few examples, all utrum words: "rockar/rockor" (coats/ray fishes) "filar/filer" (rasps/lanes) or "bilar/bilor" (cars/broadaxes). Just a few possible errors that might become awkward.

    Any rules that will help you to understand which form is correct will come from defining the word regarding to the old genders, not regarding to utrum.

    About clocks and gender, I think neither Tjahzi or I are wrong. It's thirty years between us in age, so that can probably say something of what will happen to "hon" and time in the next few decades. "Her" future looks pretty bleak! :)
     

    Tjahzi

    Senior Member
    Swedish (Göteborg)
    @fab

    Ahh, now I see. So, basically, some words, or maybe more exactly, groups of words, are shifting from masculine to feminine? Or is this shift limited to the choice of pronoun? Considering the gender can be determined by the spelling of a word in Irish, as opposed to being rather arbitrary (such as in the case of Swedish), a gender shift sounds unlikely, but nonetheless fascinating!

    Also, it does indeed seem like broad and slender means velarised/palatalised. It's amusing really how every language that exhibits this distinction has its own terms for it. I do, however, have another question regarding that now. Given that the "broadness/slenderness" of the final consonant in a word is essential in order to determine the gender of a noun, I find it a bit confusing that it appears to me as if this "broadness/slenderness" is not marked in writing. Is that true? And if so, is it correct to conclude that the gender must indeed be memorised, or words learned based on their pronunciation rather than spelling?

    @Lars

    Well, there are of course many ways to determine what is a gender and what is not. Although declension patterns might be the most common, I find a categorisation based upon pronoun use to be more natural, at least for Swedish.

    That said, I understand your annoyance with utrum. It is indeed about to become something of a "rest" gender where words of all forms and kinds come together (maybe this is the first step on the road to a single gender system). But then again, if we choose to ignore conjugation patterns, or maybe just accept that there are (quite a few) "exceptions", it does add up. Or is it the lack of predictability of whether the plural should be -ar, -er or -or that bothers you?

    Utrum
    could indeed be considered just an amalgam of masculinum/femininum/reale, but then again, considering the obvious similarities in terms of adjective declension and article usage, I think it's fair to consider it a single gender. Though, if one seeks to compromise, maybe we should just conclude that there are two grammatical genders, and then additionally two natural genders? :)
     

    Lars H

    Senior Member
    Though, if one seeks to compromise, maybe we should just conclude that there are two grammatical genders, and then additionally two natural genders? :)

    Or we could agree that within utrum there are three distinctive sub groups (former reale, former masculinum and former femininum) that have to be recognized if you wish to understand the inflections of Swedish nouns.
    Or we could discuss further along this line by commencing a new thread regarding utrum... :eek:
     

    AutumnOwl

    Senior Member
    Swedish, Finnish
    Or we could agree that within utrum there are three distinctive sub groups (former reale, former masculinum and former femininum) that have to be recognized if you wish to understand the inflections of Swedish nouns.
    As for gender in Swedish, there are dialects where there still are three genders, masculinum, femininum and neutrum. On Gotland words still have genders, both in Gutamål and in gotländska, for example many says she about the sea (sjoen) and ivy (rind).
     

    fab_

    Senior Member
    English- Ireland
    Given that the "broadness/slenderness" of the final consonant in a word is essential in order to determine the gender of a noun, I find it a bit confusing that it appears to me as if this "broadness/slenderness" is not marked in writing. Is that true? And if so, is it correct to conclude that the gender must indeed be memorised, or words learned based on their pronunciation rather than spelling?

    Well it is 'marked' in that in nouns you will see by the end of the noun if it's ending on a broad or slender consonant. It's not really essential to determining what gender the noun is but it is a general/broad guide! So if you see a broad consonant like the 'n' at the end of clábán, then you can be pretty sure it's a masculine noun. Sorry the examples I gave above are a mix of adjectives and nouns, I just wrote that up to try to explain the difference between broad and slender as we have it.

    I'm not a formal linguistics student so my terminology is just based on the bit I know.
     
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