Swedish: singular / plural for groups of animals.

Discussion in 'Nordic Languages' started by ServusMagnaeReginae, Mar 10, 2013.

  1. ServusMagnaeReginae New Member

    In a text I came across this passage on Stockholm zoo: Där finns ocks
    å ett zoo med huvudsaklingen nordiska djur, t ex varg, lo och älg. Why isn't the plural form used for the animal names, or is this an error?
  2. AutumnOwl Senior Member

    I can't explain why the singular is used, but it's intentionally done, and it's common when talking about different species/groups of animals, Swedish uses the singular while English uses the plural.
  3. Tjahzi

    Tjahzi Senior Member

    Umeå, Sweden
    Swedish (Göteborg)
    I think it's fair to consider these forms cases of plurale tantum.
  4. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    They can't be plurale tantum being in singular. Glasses and intestines are examples of plurale tantum in English. In our case the use of singular can be explained simply that the names of a species normally is in sigular.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2013
  5. Stoggler

    Stoggler Senior Member

    Sussex, GBR
    UK English
    It's a usage that is used in English too - birdwatchers for example very often refer to having seen a number of lapwing rather than lapwings (and I've seen more than one heated online discussion about correct usage of plural v non-plural species name usage!).
  6. JohanIII

    JohanIII Senior Member

    Perhaps that is done in swedish too by birdwatchers. Though personally I'd use plural in conjunction with number of. Though if not specifying a number or using any expression related to it, I'd say "Idag har jag sett kråka, korp"... (Today I've seen crow, raven), even if I'd seen many of either, which is a parallell to OP.

    I can see the controversiality of "number of lapwing", but in a scientific setting slightly different rules seem to be in use; even signifying scientific use.
  7. Tjahzi

    Tjahzi Senior Member

    Umeå, Sweden
    Swedish (Göteborg)
    Sorry, you are of course right.

    What I meant to say was that these forms are to be regarded as mass nouns in this context.

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