Swedish: röra sig, flytta (sig)

mihi

Member
English - British
Hello there.

What are the differences in usage and nuance between röra sig and flytta (sig)? Flytta appears to be more widely used, am I correct in thinking this?

Thank you all! :)
 
  • MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    Well, if I have nightmares I might move in bed: Jag rör mig när jag sover (I move when I sleep). I suppose we could think of this type of movement as being local. We could however also use it to illustrate moving towards something, perhaps a sound we heard while walking in a forest: Jag rör mig sakta mot ljudet (I move slowly towards the sound)..... We could also use it to describe the desire to get some exercise: Jag kännar att jag måste röra på mig litet, så jag tar en promenad (I feel the need to move around a little, so I'll take a walk).

    "Flytta" on the other hand I would argue would not be used in the more "local" sense, and typically only in the sense of "from point A to point B"..... Jag flyttade mig från honom så att mina rörelser inte skulle väcka honom. (I moved away from him so that my movements would not wake him)... Jag flyttade till Göteborg (I moved to Gothenburg)... Jag flyttade bilen i morse (I moved the car this morning)... And in this case we would not use "röra" to describe us moving the car, even though we could use it to describe the car moving: Bilen rörde sig mot vattnet.
     

    mihi

    Member
    English - British
    Maybe the difference can be illustrated to English speakers (somewhat imprecisely, but usefully) with "to shift" and "to relocate", at least when used reflexively..?

    Jag rör mig när jag sover.
    I shift (myself) when I sleep. (A small movement of my body position is made, but I stayed in bed.)

    Jag flyttar mig när jag sover.
    I relocate myself when I sleep. (A change of location is emphasized; I left my bedroom and went downstairs.)

    Jag rörde mig mot Göteborg.
    I shifted (myself) towards Göteborg. (I made (or continually made) a slight change of position, so that I was a little closer to Göteborg.)

    Jag flyttade (mig) till Göteborg.
    I relocated (myself) to Göteborg. (I am now physically located in Göteborg.)
     

    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    "Jag flyttar mig när jag sover.
    I relocate myself when I sleep. (A change of location is emphasized; I left my bedroom and went downstairs.)"

    That sounds odd in both languages, to me at least. I'd expect one to say that if one is normally upstairs then one goes downstairs to sleep. But then the phrase would sound more natural as "I sleep downstairs". No direction necessary. And the other reason it sounds odd is because if you're asleep you're normally not "relocating", unless you're sleepwalking. I could sort of see it if the movement is significant but still in the bed maybe. So if the point is I lay down on the left side of the bed where I fall asleep, and then I wake up on the right side, then perhaps "Jag flyttar mig" sounds ok.
     

    AutumnOwl

    Senior Member
    -
    Swedish
    So if the point is I lay down on the left side of the bed where I fall asleep, and then I wake up on the right side, then perhaps "Jag flyttar mig" sounds ok
    I wouldn't use "flyttar på mig" if I move in the sleep, it woud be "jag rör på mig i sömnen", but if for example a child comes to sleep in the bed in the middle of the night I would say "jag flyttar på mig när barnen kommer nattetid", the movement isn't large, it's just to make room for the children, and I'm still in the bed. "Att röra på sig" can be both involuntary/reflexive (as in moving in bed) and voluntary (jag rörde mig mot dörren), "att flytta på sig" is a voluntary movement, it's only involuntary if someone else moves a person.
     

    DerFrosch

    Senior Member
    Jag flyttade (mig) till Göteborg.
    Note that "Jag flyttade mig till Göteborg" wouldn't work. And without "mig", the sentence means that you've moved to Gothenburg to live there (in case that wasn't clear to you).

    I'd say that flytta as an intransitive verb is relatively rare except for the sense "change residence". The same goes for flytta sig. (I say "relatively" because they're definitely used, but for a non-native it's better to focus on the constructions that are most common.) In most cases when a person's or an animal's movements are described, röra sig can be used. However, flytta på sig is also often used, but is not interchangeable with "röra (på) sig".

    As to the difference between "röra sig" and "röra på sig", the latter shouldn't be used in connection with a phrase describing the direction of the movement.

    Han rörde sig mot utgången. :tick:

    Han rörde på sig mot utgången. :cross:
    (It's perhaps not altogether wrong, but the first version sounds much better.)

    If no information about direction is given, both are possible, with the version with "på" probably being the most common one:

    Plötsligt rörde djuret sig. :tick:

    Plötsligt rörde djuret på sig. :tick:

    Going back to "flytta på sig", AutumnOwl gave some good information above. I just thought I'd add some more.

    "Flytta på sig" implies moving away from a certain spot for a certain reason. This is normally done out of consideration for someone else. Let's say a circle of people are standing around an object that I can't see. Maybe one of them realizes that I'm curious about it. If this person "flyttar på sig", he moves away from where he's standing, which makes it possible for me to either move to where he was standing, or too see the object from where I was already standing. The important thing is that his movement was of benefit to me.

     
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    DerFrosch

    Senior Member
    Jag flyttade mig från honom så att mina rörelser inte skulle väcka honom.
    Mattias, I'm not saying this is wrong, but it somehow doesn't sound that idiomatic to me. It actually sounds a bit like "translationese", like someone translated "I moved away from him...". I think it's more natural for us to simply say "Jag flyttade på mig så att..." You may say that that sentence doesn't mean quite the same, without "från", but I think it's implied that you moved away from him if you're goal was not to wake him.
     

    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    Mattias, I'm not saying this is wrong, but it somehow doesn't sound that idiomatic to me. It actually sounds a bit like "translationese", like someone translated "I moved away from him...". I think it's more natural for us to simply say "Jag flyttade på mig så att..." You may say that that sentence doesn't mean quite the same, without "från", but I think it's implied that you moved away from him if you're goal was not to wake him.
    I agree.
     

    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    I wouldn't use "flyttar på mig" if I move in the sleep, it woud be "jag rör på mig i sömnen", but if for example a child comes to sleep in the bed in the middle of the night I would say "jag flyttar på mig när barnen kommer nattetid", the movement isn't large, it's just to make room for the children, and I'm still in the bed. "Att röra på sig" can be both involuntary/reflexive (as in moving in bed) and voluntary (jag rörde mig mot dörren), "att flytta på sig" is a voluntary movement, it's only involuntary if someone else moves a person.
    Hmmm... See, to me "flyttar" implies 'from one location to another' more than whether or not it's premeditated. I did a quick google, and while most of the time intent/premeditation is included, if you type in an inanimate object such as "mountain" or "rock", you'll find examples of "berget flyttades" or "stenen flyttades"... clearly they can't have intent, so I don't think that's the only caveat.

    So I would maintain that "flyttade" in the context of moving while sleeping is more specific. If I hear that I think more along the lines of an actual movement from one place in the bed to another, as opposed to "rörde" where I'd also suspect smaller movements such as just changing position from back to stomach etc.
     

    DerFrosch

    Senior Member
    I did a quick google, and while most of the time intent/premeditation is included, if you type in an inanimate object such as "mountain" or "rock", you'll find examples of "berget flyttades" or "stenen flyttades"... clearly they can't have intent, so I don't think that's the only caveat.
    Well, in "berget/stenen flyttades" the passive voice is used, so flytta is actually transitive here. In other words, something or someone moved the mountain/rock. But if something moved it, you'd still have a point, "something" can't have intent. However, if something inanimate moved, I wouldn't use flytta at all. Can you think of a sentence where "berget flyttades" would sound good? I have to say I agree with AutumnOwl here.

    So "Jag flyttade mig i sömnen" sounds odd to me, as you don't make voluntary movements in your sleep. Some people might very well express themselves like that, but it sounds sloppy to me.
     

    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    Well, in "berget/stenen flyttades" the passive voice is used, so flytta is actually transitive here. In other words, something or someone moved the mountain/rock. But if something moved it, you'd still have a point, "something" can't have intent. However, if something inanimate moved, I wouldn't use flytta at all. Can you think of a sentence where "berget flyttades" would sound good? I have to say I agree with AutumnOwl here.
    I think the solution is found in the converse question:

    If the mountain lay on coordinates X/Y, and it's now not in the same place, how would you describe it's movement without using "flytta" or "rörde"?

    Does it sound "good"? It's subjective, but it's used to describe how a mountain has moved due to earthquakes. Involuntary, and without intent.
     

    DerFrosch

    Senior Member
    It is possible to use "röra sig" with inanimate objects, nobody denied that. So "Berget rörde sig några centimeter efter jordbävningen" sounds OK to me. "Berget(s position) har förskjutits efter jordbävningen" also works, I think.
     

    DerFrosch

    Senior Member
    So I took a look in SAOB and to my surprise I found this quote:

    Några berg hafwa sigh flytt ifrån den ena orten til den andra.

    That sounds peculiar without any context, (you normally hear mountains moving a centimetre or two; how could they possibly move from one location to another?) but what it does prove is that this usage is not new, which I kind of suspected (the citation is from 1706). Also, the article doesn't actually state anywhere that flytta can't be used with inanimate objects.

    I also found this, where TT writes: Världens högsta berg, Mount Everest, flyttades tre centimeter åt sydväst av jordbävningen som skakade Nepal i april. [...] Jordbävningen flyttade berget till där det skulle ha varit omkring nio månader tidigare.

    If people want to use it that way - fine. We all understand what's meant. Most people probably don't see anything wrong with these sentences at all. But I still feel it would make sense to restrict flytta to intentional actions only, to avoid ambiguity. For example, if I would start reading a sentence, or hear someone beginning to talk, and the first words would be "Stenbumlingen flyttades ...", I would automatically assume that it had been moved by people (with the aid of some machine, assumingly), not by a natural force. Now, it's quite probable that the next few words will remove the ambiguity, but if it turned out that the writer/speaker actually meant that natural forces was the cause, my brain would be confused for maybe two tenths of a second, as it would have been expecting something else. It's my opinion that a good writer or speaker should avoid such confusion.
     
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    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    Apparently I do not. I don't see a problem using it to illustrate how a person not only moves slightly while sleeping, but ends up at the other side of the bed. In that case I think "flyttar" is just as, or even more appropriate than the alternative discussed here. I think it more implies a relocation of the body than simply moving a limb or two.
     

    AutumnOwl

    Senior Member
    -
    Swedish
    Hmmm... See, to me "flyttar" implies 'from one location to another' more than whether or not it's premeditated.
    To me the movement of "flyttar" is both premeditated and from one location to another, even if the movement is just 1 cm or if it's 10 meters or more. To me the movements one does in their sleep is "att röra (på) sig", it's not something one plans beforehand, while "att flytta på sig" one has to be at least half awake to do. And a sleep-walker "rör sig i sömnen", they don't "flyttar sig".
     

    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    Then you'd have to explain how "berget flyttades av ett jordskalv" for example. Where's the premeditation in that? How is that planned?

    Here are a few more I have found while googling a little:

    "Typiskt är att smärtan flyttar sig i kroppen"
    "Symtomen är omfattande och besvärliga, det flyttar sig eller kan uppträda på "
    "det finns många skäl till att tänderna kommer att flytta på sig när en person åldras"
    "Han rör sig vääldigt mycket i sömnen, sparkas, flyttar sig, tar mitt täcke, tar mina kuddar osv."
    "Under djup sömn flyttas det man sett och lärt sig under dagen till en permanent plats i stora hjärnbalken."

    etc..... So it seems to me that premeditation is actually not a requirement in order to choose "flytta". The one in red clearly saying what I was thinking.... or the other way around... whatever.
     

    DerFrosch

    Senior Member
    Mattias, didn't you say back in #4 that mihi's proposed sentence "Jag flyttar mig när jag sover." sounded "odd"? That was your instictive impression, even if you then wrote:
    So if the point is I lay down on the left side of the bed where I fall asleep, and then I wake up on the right side, then perhaps "Jag flyttar mig" sounds ok.
    Don't you think that means something? After going to sleep on the left side and waking up on the right side, would you really say "Oj, jag måste ha flyttat mig i sömnen?" Also, in your quoted sentence, the person writing first says "han rör sig", and only later "flyttar sig". Furthermore, it seems like you found that sentence on Flashback, and it's obvious that the "writer" didn't put much thought into that sentence. A lot of things that native speakers of Swedish write defy logic and sound terrible, so just because someone wrote something in a forum, it doesn't have to be "correct".

    I'm not going to argue anymore with you about flytta in connection with inanimate objects. I suppose it's a question of style rather than right and wrong. I follow my own logic which makes sense to me, but other people apparently feel differently about it. I'll admit that in some cases it doesn't bother me that much (if at all) when flytta is used to describe inanimate objects' movements, but in other cases it simply sounds bad, not to say ridiculous.

    Maybe we can at least agree that a rule of thumb (useful for learners of Swedish, I think) could be:

    Flytta, flytta sig and flytta på sig are generally intentional actions by living creatures, but may in some cases also be used of inanimate objects to stress a movement from point A to point B.

    However, I still insist that for human beings, flytta should always describe an intentional movement.
     
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    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    Ok, why should we "at least agree" on a rule of thumb when you immediately then dismiss it? That's just pointless.

    We have a different opinion about this, and apparently I can find a bunch of quotes that also ignore "intent". If you have a better source for why intent is required then by all means provide it. If not we simply disagree on it.
     
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