Swedish: skära av honom ...

kfz2010

Senior Member
Chinese
In the following sentence:

De hade skurit sönder hans ansikte och försökt skära av honom tungan.

Why "honom tungan"? Isn't it "hans tungan"?

Thanks.
 
  • MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    No. It would be incorrect to write "hans tungan".

    The problem with it is that you are stating twice which tongue you are talking about, first by using the possessive pronoun "hans", and then again by using a definite form for the noun "tunga" by adding that "n" at the end.

    I have the impression that it is a common mistake for people who learn Swedish to do this. "My car" translates to "Min bil". "Bil" is here indefinite ("obestämd form"). If I am the one talking I could say "Min bil är stor" (My car is big), and later in the conversation I could say "Vi får plats med hela familjen i bilen" (We can fit the whole family in the car). So the first time I say it you know which car I'm talking about because I use the possessive pronoun, and later you know that I'm talking about a specific car because I'm using definite form of the word, and you know through context that the specific car is my car. But we don't do both.

    So examples of wrong ways of saying this are:
    "Min bilen", "hans byxorna", "hennes fotbollarna", and so on.

    It should be either/or:
    "Den bilen" / "Min bil",
    "De byxorna" / "hans byxor",
    "De fotbollarna" / "hennes fotbollar"

    So you could write "De hade skurit sönder hans ansikte och försökt skära av hans tunga.", or as written originally.

    I'm not sure which is preferable stylistically.

    PS: If someone has a better explanation please correct me.
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    It is important to understand that 'honom' is related to 'skära av tungan', not to 'tungan' alone. So isolating the two words 'honom' and 'tungan' into one unit, has no sense. The sentence can also be regrouped to 'De hade skurit sönder hans ansikte och försökt skära tungan av honom. (to sever the tongue from him*).
    *incorrect English
     

    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    But for the purpose of answering the actual question it is actually "tungan" and "honom" that matters, not what we do with the tongue.
     
    No, Ben Jamin is right. The verb is crucial for the construction, for it expresses an action which is performed to the detriment of the person, or that a loss was caused to the person. Otherwise there would be no dative (if that term should be used).
     
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    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    No, Ben Jamin is right. The verb is crucial for the construction, for it expresses an action which is performed to the detriment of the person, or that a loss was caused to the person. Otherwise there would be no dative (if that term should be used).

    No, I don't think he's right within the context of the original question. Obviously you need a verb but that's beside the point.

    How do you determine that you need to use dative without either "honom" / "tungan"?

    1. skära av honom tungan
    2. skära av hans tunga

    Why would you say "tungan" instead of "tunga" is essentially answered with the same basis as "why would you say 'honom' instead of 'hans'", and that's because they're connected together. "skära av" doesn't help answer the question.
     
    I think Ben Jamin is right. The initial post quoted a sentence where honom was used in an unfamiliar way, and asked why honom was used. The answer is that honom here is an indirect object, Swedish dativobjekt. It is dative precisely because the verb skära av governs dative in the sentence quoted. Dative is when you give something to someone, or (as is the case here) when you take something from someone. So it would appear that the verb is not beside the point.
     

    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    it would appear that the verb is not beside the point.

    The original question was:

    "Why "honom tungan"? Isn't it "hans tungan"?"

    If the verb determines the answer to the question then the following three sentences should all be correct since they all share the same verb:

    1. skära av honom tungan
    2. skära av hans tunga
    3. skära av hans tungan

    Why is "honom" used?

    a) Because it says "skära av".. (verb)
    b) Because it says "tungan"..

    ??
     

    raumar

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    It may be more helpful to look at it this way: My first reaction to post #1 was that kfz2010 had read the sentence the wrong way. He/she perceived "honom tungan" as one unit, but the unit should be "av honom", which could be moved to the end of the sentence: "skära tungan av honom". In other words, while the OP tried to read the sentence as "cut off his tongue", it should be read as "cut the tongue off him".

    That is at least my Norwegian perspective, and I believe that was Ben Jamin's point as well.
     

    AutumnOwl

    Senior Member
    Swedish, Finnish
    Yes, you are right, and they are different. This is a compound verb (sammansatt verb).
    If I remember correctly "skära av" is a particle verb (partikelverb), while "avskära" would be a compound verb.
    Partikelverb
    Sammansatta verb

    It's possible to make several particle verbs of "skära + particle" and they have different meanings.
     
    MattiasNYC wrote (#11):
    The original question was:

    "Why "honom tungan"? Isn't it "hans tungan"?"

    [...]
    No, those are two questions. The first question has been answered by me, by Ben Jamin, and (after your posts) by AutumnOwl. The second question has been answered well by yourself.....

    < ---- >

    In the initial thread, kfz2010 quoted the following sentence:
    De hade skurit sönder hans ansikte och försökt skära av honom tungan.
    My opinion is that the question why honom is used in this very sentence has been answered reasonably well in the thread.

    Further, kfz2010 wrote (#4):
    Thanks for your correction and explanation!

    I didn't know Swedish has dative, like German. Now it makes sense.

    < Topic drift removed. Cagey, moderator >
     
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    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    For anyone who knows German, is this right?

    skära av honom tungan = ihm die Zunge abschneiden
    skära
    av hans tunga = seine Zunge abschneiden
     

    raumar

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    Yes, that seems right.

    But: I don't know much grammar, but I think I remember from school that we called "honom"/"ihm" (or "ham" in Norwegian) accusative, not dative?
     

    myšlenka

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    What a heated discussion! Maybe I can throw in my comments too :)
    [...]

    PS: If someone has a better explanation please correct me.

    A better explanation was offered by Den falska sköldpaddan in #3. It is a dative construction.
    No, I don't think he's right within the context of the original question. Obviously you need a verb but that's beside the point.

    How do you determine that you need to use dative without either "honom" / "tungan"?

    1. skära av honom tungan
    2. skära av hans tunga

    Why would you say "tungan" instead of "tunga" is essentially answered with the same basis as "why would you say 'honom' instead of 'hans'", and that's because they're connected together. "skära av" doesn't help answer the question.
    I think the point MattiasNYC is missing here is that the constructions are not parallel, so they are not connected at all. At least not the way MattiasNYC thinks. "Hans" is modifying "tunga" in the first sentence, while "honom" is not modifying "tungan" in the second one. So Ben Jamin is right in the bolded part in #6:
    It is important to understand that 'honom' is related to 'skära av tungan', not to 'tungan' alone. So isolating the two words 'honom' and 'tungan' into one unit, has no sense. [...]
    As for the non-bolded part, it can be argued that "honom tungan" is a syntactic constituent (or unit), but it is very different from the unit "hans tunga". I won't go into the details of that here as the question kfz2010 asked in the OP has been answered and s/he seems content (see #4).

    To return somewhat to MattiasNYC concern (the choice between the two constructions in #9 if I have understood what MattiasNYC is alluding to), the dative construction with "honom" is associated with a specific meaning: inalienable possession. This is also reflected in the German translations provided by elroy, which look correct to me.
    For anyone who knows German, is this right?

    skära av honom tungan = ihm die Zunge abschneiden
    skära
    av hans tunga = seine Zunge abschneiden
    The only difference being that German does not encode the gender of the possessor.

    One final comment, somewhat on the side of what has been the issue:
    [...] He/she perceived "honom tungan" as one unit, but the unit should be "av honom" [...]
    I don't think the particle "av" forms a unit with the indirect object pronoun because the indirect objet pronoun is optional in the case at hand, while the particle "av" is obligatory. Thus, they don't pattern together.
     
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    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    What a heated discussion! Maybe I can throw in my comments too :)

    For the record, it wasn't heated, I just viewed things differently. < ---- >

    I think the point MattiasNYC is missing here is that the constructions are not parallel, so they are not connected at all. At least not the way MattiasNYC think. "Hans" is modifying "tunga" in the first sentence, while "honom" is not modifying "tungan" in the second one.

    I understand.

    The way I was looking at the first post though was that the first poster seemd to think that one word that stood out, "honom", and it was surrounded by other words. So the way I looked at it was that if we assume that the other words have to be in there then it is the last word, the noun, that gives us enough information about why we ended up with "honom" instead of "hans", because we couldn't say for certain whether it had to be one way or another without "tungan" present.

    Looking at the two sentences I wrote it doesn't appear as if the verb determines "honom" / "hans", because the verb is the same in both sentences. Or to put it differently, if this was a question on a test and you had to pick the right answer, it would not make sense for the question to only read:

    "Which is correct (a or b):

    'skära av___'
    a) honom
    b) hans"


    That question simply doesn't make sense in and by itself because both answers are good. It could however be rephrased so that it leaves out "honom" or "hans" and instead uses "tunga" and "tungan" respectively, and "tunga/n" would be what would tell you whether or not to use "honom"/"hans". It's not that "tunga/n" necessarily determines it directly grammatically, it's that it tells us what was intended to be constructed. And so again, at the time that I replied it seemed to me that the most obvious and expedient answer was because it read "tungan" after, not "tunga".

    As for the non-bolded part, it can be argued that "honom tungan" is a syntactic constituent (or unit), but it is very different from the unit "hans tunga". I won't go into the details of that here as the question kfz2010 asked in the OP has been answered and s/he seems content (see #4).

    I think the first above is really what I was getting at. I viewed one "unit" as a way to explain that it was one and not the other, because substituting "honom" for "hans" isn't really viable until we also substitute "tungan" for "tunga". They change together (because it is never "hans tungan").

    Of course a different, more comprehensive and arguably better answer was talking about the other "unit", as the others did, which I have now conceded.

    So we can move on.

    < Side comment removed. Cagey, moderator >
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    It may be more helpful to look at it this way: My first reaction to post #1 was that kfz2010 had read the sentence the wrong way. He/she perceived "honom tungan" as one unit, but the unit should be "av honom", which could be moved to the end of the sentence: "skära tungan av honom". In other words, while the OP tried to read the sentence as "cut off his tongue", it should be read as "cut the tongue off him".

    That is at least my Norwegian perspective, and I believe that was Ben Jamin's point as well.
    It was exactly what I meant.
     
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