Swedish: 'När jag är sex år ser jag en bild som intresserar mig.' grammar question.

vidar

Member
English - England
So...it's the opening line from The Little Prince in Swedish.

I have a question about how this translates into English. The English version should be 'Once when I was six years old I saw a magnificent picture in a book...'

I'm just wondering about the Swedish use of 'ser' instead of 'såg' ?

My original feeling was that it's saying something more like 'When i was 6, i am seeing a picture that interests me.' and the 'ser' instead of 'såg' is used because we have already indicated it's the past with the first part of the sentence. Am i right in thinking that if we worded it the other way, and wanted to say 'I saw an interesting book, when i was 6 years old.' we would then use 'Jag såg' ? Am i close there or completely off ?
 
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  • MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    The first part translates to "When I am six years old". So the first part is actually consistent with the second, as opposed to your "When I was".

    But you're right though, the gist of it is "when I was". I think in terms of the 'feeling' of this way of writing it I suppose the closest I can come up with in English would be akin to try to place the reader in the shoes of the author at the time:

    - I am six years old. I see an image that interests me...

    Except the first phrase is as I mentioned "When I am..."

    That's the best I can do here.
     

    winenous

    Senior Member
    English - British
    You are right. The Swedish is all in the present tense, and together with "när" it looks odd to me (though I know very little Swedish).
     

    Segorian

    Senior Member
    Icelandic & Swedish
    Le Petit Prince has been translated into Swedish more than once. In a translation published in 2015 the first sentence runs like this:

    När jag var sex år gammal såg jag en gång en en fantastisk bild i en bok om Urskogen som hette Verkliga historier.​

    As winenous points out, the sentence quoted in the title of this thread is not a translation of the original French sentence, but a paraphrase or rewording.
     

    Wilma_Sweden

    Senior Member
    Swedish (Scania)
    Le Petit Prince has been translated into Swedish more than once. In a translation published in 2015 the first sentence runs like this:

    När jag var sex år gammal såg jag en gång en en fantastisk bild i en bok om Urskogen som hette Verkliga historier.​

    As winenous points out, the sentence quoted in the title of this thread is not a translation of the original French sentence, but a paraphrase or rewording.
    I think the above translator simply chose to use historical present rather than past tense, which is perfectly OK in my opinion - you can't always follow the original literally because syntax and tense usage in French and Swedish differ in many contexts. Translators do have to apply some 'artistic license' - i.e. convey the meaning of the text in the recipient language without straying too far from the original but at the same time writing in a language natural to the intended reader. The first Swedish translation was made in 1952, and a lot has happened to the Swedish language since then! :D
     

    winenous

    Senior Member
    English - British
    Using the present tense to describe past events is also used in English, but a construction like "when I am 8 years old" sounds very odd to me in that context, as it seems to refer to a FUTURE event. Does it sound OK in Swedish?
     
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