Swedish/Danish/Norwegian: plural of surnames

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by Anna Mozdzonek, Mar 6, 2014.

  1. Anna Mozdzonek New Member

    Dear All, is it possible to refer to a whole family in Swedish/Danish/Norwegian, as we do in English (The Newmans) or in French (Les Sarkozy)? How do we form the plural in Swedish/Danish/Norwegian if we have the surname in singular?
  2. NorwegianNYC

    NorwegianNYC Senior Member

    New York, NY, USA
    In Norwegian at least, it is very rare
  3. ramram New Member

    I can only speak for Swedish, but yes, it is possible, although not very common (I've never ever heard anyone using it). You don't use the plural form (if there even is one for names?), but rather the genitive form, which just happens to sound very similar to the English plural form: Svensson -> Svenssons.
  4. mosletha Senior Member

    Haugesund, Norway
    There's no proper plural in modern Norwegian, really. Someone might sometimes add the suffix "-ene" but it usually sounds very strange. If your last name is for exampel Larsen, you should instead call your family "Larsen-familien", while the sons in your family are "Larsen-brødrene" (the Larsen brothers) and the daughters are "Larsen-søstrene".

    This might be outside you area of interest, but originally in Norse, we did not have family names at all and one's surname was simply one's own father's first name. So a man would be called "Ólafsson" and a woman would be called "Ólafsdóttir" (meaning literally "son/daughter of Ólafr"), and the plural forms of those were Ólafssynir and Ólafsdætur. This is still the case in Icelandic today, I believe. I'm not entirely sure if you would use "Ólafsbǫrn" (children of Ólafr) as a plural for both daughters and sons, but maybe someone else does.

    Edit: I should probably add that in some cases, the surname is actually the name of the mother – but that is somewhat rare, I believe.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2014
  5. Ogago Member

    Yes, we do it. We put a genitive -s after the name, as ramram mentions. And it's not very unusual, in my humble opinion.
    Example: "Spring upp till Svenssons och låna en kopp mjöl och ett par ägg, är du snäll." I think it's a short form of "the Svenssons family"
    But we use plural when it is possible.
    Exampel: "Det var hemskt vad Berggrenarna bråkade i natt. Ja, och Wallenstammarna var inte sämre dom."
    Even in the first name we use plural, when we can.
    Example: "På mitt jobb finns två Marior, båda blonda."
  6. raumar Senior Member

    Oslo, Norway
    Mosletha and NorwegianNYC are right -- this is rare in Norwegian. The -s plural form, which Ogago and ramram describe in the Swedish case, exists in Norwegian as well. But it is quite dated -- that is at least my impression. You might expect to hear it in movies from the 1950s and -60s, but rarely today. Actually, a popular movie from the 1960s was called "Hurra for Andersens!".

    Of course, spouses often have different surnames today (unlike 50 years ago). That makes the whole idea of a plural family surname a bit dated, or at least less practical.
  7. Sepia Senior Member

    High German/Danish
    Same model in Danish with the "s" at the end. Hos Petersens.

    However, I never understood that as a plural. I'd see it as a genitive. Petersens (familie, hus, ...). Anyway, I haven't heard it used for a long, long time.
  8. Græskar New Member

    That is genitive. In Danish you would say "familien Petersen" (the Petersen family) and not Petersens.
  9. Sepia Senior Member

    High German/Danish

    You'd probably also say that it is something we'd only hear in television series like "Matador" - stories set in the Fifties or earlyer?
  10. Græskar New Member

    Yes it is kind of an old fashioned thing to say
  11. MindBoggle Senior Member

    Danish. English from childhood
    We don't do that in Danish. There aren't a lot of families like that left, anyway, so maybe that's why.
    Few people get married, and those who do often keep their own names.
  12. Pauline Meryle

    Pauline Meryle Senior Member

    Central France
    English UK
    (Unless a native corrects me) in Swedish, familjen Newman/Sarkozy... What immediately sprang to my mind was the recurring phrase from SVT's lovely 2013 pre-Christmas serial, "Barna Hedenhös uppfinner julen":

    "Familjen Hedenhös --- KRAM!!"
  13. Ogago Member

    I am a native and for me it is natural to say "Fråga Olssons på hörnet om...", "Lundéns har köpt en ny bil!", "Berggrens har alltid haft åsikten att..." etc.
    In the case of Newman, well "Fråga Newmans på hörnet om...", well, perhaps not. In the case Sarkozy, well, no.
    But of course "Familjen Olsson, Lundens familj, and barna Hedenhös is correct too.

    (About barna Hedenhös - today we would say barnene Hedenhös. 'Barna' implies feminin form av 'barn' in ancient Swedish, still used in Norwegian. Still used in dialects though. ...if I'm not wrong.)

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