Swedish: Equivalents to English Gerunds

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by Knut Patrik Albrekt, May 22, 2009.

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  1. What form is generally used to express what in English would be expressed using gerunds (the "ing" form of a verb). Here are some phrases which I am looking for the Swedish equivalent of:

    1. "Learning Astronomy"
    2. "I like swimming." (I know this could be translated as "Jag tycker om att bada.", but is there a different way to express the verb as a noun here?)

    Thanks,
    Knut
     
  2. jonquiliser

    jonquiliser Senior Member

    Headquarters
    Svediż tal-Finlandja
    The translation to Swedish of English gerunds depends on - surprise surprise - context. Sometimes plainly using the present tense conveys the same idea, in other contexts you can use "håller på att" to particularly emphasise that something is being done now. I'm not great with syntactic analysis, but I'm not sure your examples are actually examples of the gerund.

    "Learning Astronomy" -context? Is it a title? Difficult to translate a fragment like this. Att lära sig astronomi is one possibility, but if it's a title, the translation would most likely be something else.

    2. I like swimming. If I'm not mistaken, swimming here is a noun. You can translate it either as "Jag tycker om att simma/bada" or "Jag tycker om simning" (if you like it as a sport).

    So, for gerunds, present tense or hålla på att: I am doing my homework - jag håller på att göra läxorna (though more naturally, jag håller på med läxorna), or simply, jag gör läxorna.

    There is actually a gerund form in Swedish, though with a very much more restricted use than the English one. It is formed with the suffix -nde: gående, leende, farande, stående. It's used adjectivally, adverbially or as nouns(?):
    Hon kom gående(s) längs vägen. Han blev stående vid bron.
    Ett skrattande barn, tänkande människor, svindlande höjder.
    De närmast sörjande närvarade; Den sökande har goda meriter; Alla studeranden har rätt till handledning.
     
  3. Wilma_Sweden

    Wilma_Sweden Senior Member

    Lund, Sweden
    Swedish (Scania)
    Sorry, Knut, but there is no single form that would cover all of the uses of the English -ing form.

    1. Learning Astronomy: how you say it in Swedish depends on the context it is in, so I won't even bother with that one unless you put it in a full sentence.

    2. I like swimming. If you mean that you like the sport of swimming, you could say: Jag gillar simning. (tycker om is less appropriate in these cases, IMO). However, if you like performing the literal action of swimming: Jag gillar att simma - or just hanging out in the water: ~ att bada.

    Please note, though, that even if we can form action nouns in Swedish - we add -(n)ing to the stem of the verb - they cannot be used in all contexts where the English verb-ing would work, and they are not all sport-related.

    On the other hand, knowing this, you'll have no problem recognising Swedish action nouns such as simning, ridning, bilkörning etc. If you see a sign saying fotografering förbjuden outside a military installation, you'll take care not to flash your Nikon in front of the guards...:D

    Edit: as usual, someone else beat me to it while I was writing.
    I just want to add that there is a difference between the gerund and the present participle both in English and Swedish. In Swedish, those words ending in -nde are present participles, and they can in some cases function as nouns. Those Swedish words ending with -ing are true gerunds, and they can only function as (action) nouns in Swedish and English alike. The English counterpart is also a gerund: an action noun formed from verb-ing.

    Hon kom gående(s) längs vägen. Han blev stående vid bron. Ett skrattande barn, tänkande människor, svindlande höjder.
    These are all present participles, not gerunds. Translated into English, they are still present participles, expressed as verb-ing: came running, remained standing, a laughing child, thinking people, wuthering heights.

    De närmast sörjande närvarade; Den sökande har goda meriter; Alla studeranden har rätt till handledning. Again, present participles except handledning, which is indeed a gerund. We get different solutions in English, because verb-ing doesn't work when there is no noun present to modify it: chief mourners present, applicant, student, instruction ("guiding"). I think English nouns in -ant, -ent have, in fact, a remnant of a French(/Latin) present participle, by the way.

    /Wilma
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2009
  4. My example of "Learning Astronomy" was meant to be the title of a book.
     
  5. cocuyo Senior Member

    Stockholm
    Swedish - Stockholm
    I think it's doubtful as a book title, not only to translate, but as a concept in English. Would that be a book where astronomy is taught, or is it about the process of learning astronomy? The approach would be different for those cases, and a direct translation based on the gerund is not possible except for the second case, but that would become a very cumbersome and long composed word... To translate the title, a different approach would apply, based on context.
     
  6. Södertjej

    Södertjej Senior Member

    Junto al Mediterráneo
    Spanish ES/Swedish (utlandssvensk)
    Hur skulle ni då översätta dragandes i följande sammanhang?

    Kommer du någonsin dragandes med att vi har setts här och diskuterat det vi ska så har det inte hänt.

    Varför ett s i slutet?
     
  7. Wilma_Sweden

    Wilma_Sweden Senior Member

    Lund, Sweden
    Swedish (Scania)
    Sista frågan först: jag vet inte varför man lägger till ett s på slutet - det är ju ingen genitivändelse och heller ingen passiv form vad jag vet, möjligen i så fall en ändelse som är känslomässigt förstärkande, men det är bara min teori.

    På engelska hade jag i såfall sagt något i stil med:
    If you ever come blabbering about us having met and discussed this, it never happened.

    /Wilma
     
  8. jonquiliser

    jonquiliser Senior Member

    Headquarters
    Svediż tal-Finlandja
    Oops, this wouldn't be the first time I've mistakenly told others there's a Swedish gerund, then :eek:. It was actually during French class back in high school, that I was though -nde is the Swedish gerund. I do find it strange though that handledning (a noun) would be considered a gerund - I thought the gerund was a verb form of action? (What I had in mind with that phrase was studerande ;))

    Och vad gäller slut-esset (hur skriver man bokstäver på svenska?:)); ingen aning om varför man lägger till det, men det funkar inte alltid, tror jag. Jag skulle sägaHan kom springades mot busshållplatsen > Han blev stående vid bon > De har en massa skräp liggandes omkring gården. Vilket verkar helt godtyckligt, fråga mig inte varför jag skulle säga så och inte alltid med -s!
     
  9. cocuyo Senior Member

    Stockholm
    Swedish - Stockholm
    Jag vet inte mer om detta s än Wilma, men det påminner mig om ett talesätt jag har hört emellanåt...

    "Kom han gåendes eller farandes? - Nej, han kom leandes på en ko."
     
  10. Wilma_Sweden

    Wilma_Sweden Senior Member

    Lund, Sweden
    Swedish (Scania)
    Don't worry, there is total confusion about grammar terms, and how you interpret and use them depends on what languages you have studied and when you went to school. My assumption that the gerund was used to create action nouns from verbs come from the Oxford English dictionary. That's why I chose to call the others 'present participle', i.e. the one we use to create the progressive form. The confusing thing about English is of course that we have the same suffix for both cases, -ing.

    It is not entirely true that Swedish doesn't have a progressive mood, because in sentences like Han kom gående (He came walking), we do have a simultaneous action, but other than that, it's virtually nonexistent in Swedish.

    /Wilma
     
  11. Lugubert Senior Member

    I love Wilma('s thorough and insightful posts).

    On -s, I had a discussion with my Uni multilingual (Swedish) Slavic prof. We were equally puzzled; I voted for S. Swedish dialectal preferences, but couldn't prove it. On the Internetz, I found "Efter lite googlande vet jag nu att Svenska språkrådet i Finland säger att formerna med -s "är vanliga i talspråk och i situationer där själva verbhandlingen understryks"." I'm buying into that.

    On the thread main gerund business, it should be mentioned that a Swedish passage using our present participle (too) often reveals a not too sensitive translation from English. Gående genom trädgården märkte han ...< Walking through the garden, he noticed ...> (preferred) När han gick genom trädgården, märkte han ... .
     
  12. Wilma_Sweden

    Wilma_Sweden Senior Member

    Lund, Sweden
    Swedish (Scania)
    Definitely worth buying! :D

    :eek: to gående... (why don't we have a smiley for being sick?*). Alternative: På väg genom trädgården märkte han...

    /Wilma

    * Sick smiley sample: click here
     
  13. jonquiliser

    jonquiliser Senior Member

    Headquarters
    Svediż tal-Finlandja
    Interesting theory regarding understrykt verbhandling. But how is it in Sweden, are these -s's common? (At least none of you seem unfamiliar with them).

    Aah, I'm a sucker for smileys these days and would love to have more on them here. Especially a nodding one. I think it would go well in line with the academic ambitions of the forum :rolleyes:
     
  14. Wilma_Sweden

    Wilma_Sweden Senior Member

    Lund, Sweden
    Swedish (Scania)
    They're more common in spoken and informal written language, certainly, and the Swedish language council advise against them in very formal style: "I mycket formell stil har man bara springande, gående, sittande o.s.v. I lite mer ledig stil kan man använda springandes, gåendes, sittandes." Source. Komma dragande(s) med någonting is in itself an informal expression, which might explain why you'll get more google hits for dragandes, but other combinations get more hits for the 's-less' version, e.g. Rånarna flydde springande från banken.

    /Wilma
     
  15. Södertjej

    Södertjej Senior Member

    Junto al Mediterráneo
    Spanish ES/Swedish (utlandssvensk)
    Ok, så man ska alltid säga komma drangandes med xx och inte dragade eller?
     
  16. cocuyo Senior Member

    Stockholm
    Swedish - Stockholm
    Dom är likvärdiga, spelar ingen roll vilket man tar. Det kan vara personlig preferens för den ena eller den andra varianten. Jag föredrar den utan -s. Möjligen kan det skilja beroende på i vilken landsända man bor.
     

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