Swedish: anden


Slovene - Slovenia
In one of his books, Sven Hedin includes the following translation of an Uyghur poem:

Du är lik den hvita anden. Jag skulle önska att få tillbringa natten vid din barm. Da du dansar till aftonens strängaspel, sväfva de vackra banden kring dig. Jag sitter hos mig, du hos dig, men jag vet att du tänker på mig. [...] (Sven Hedin, Asien: tusen mil på okända vägar (1903), vol. 1, p. 520)

(For more context, see the attached picture.)

Now my question is, does anden in the above passage come from and (duck) or from ande (spirit)? And is there anything in the grammar of the passage (as opposed to the meaning of the words) that would help us determine that? For example, would the adjective (h)vita take the masculine suffix -e if the "spirit" sense were intended?

I looked into different translations of the book and the opinions there seem to be divided:

"Thou art like the white spirit." (Central Asia and Tibet, vol. 1, p. 448.)
"Du gleichst den weißen Ente [duck]." (Im Herzen von Asien, vol. 1, p. 394.)
"Tu ressembles à un canard [duck] bleu." (L'Asie inconnue, vol. 1, p. 272.)

So far it's ducks 2 : spirits 1, and I'd like to hear more opinions about this subject :)


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  • MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    I think you'd have to rely on context, not grammar. I don't really see the point in saying that a spirit is white, unless there's some cultural significance to that within that group, whereas a description of a duck being white sort of makes sense and might also add something in terms of how the poem 'flows'.