Swedish: use of indicative verbs in instructions

Gavril

Senior Member
English, USA
The following is an excerpt from a Swedish bank's instructions on anti-money-laundering procedures. I have highlighted the main verbs used in each sentence or clause:


Avseende de kunder som bedöms ha en komplicerad bolagsstruktur ska en mer djupgående utredning av strukturen genomföras och dokumenteras. I samband med denna utredning görs en bedömning huruvida kunden kan anses vara etablerad i ett högrisktredjeland. En juridisk person som har sitt säte eller skatterättsliga hemvist i ett högrisktredjeland bör anses vara etablerad där men en bedömning behöver göras från fall till fall. För det fall kunden anses etablerad i ett högrisktredjeland bedöms kunden automatiskt som högrisk och skärpta åtgärder ska vidtas. Banken behöver känna till kundens skattehemvist för att dels kunna lämna finansiella uppgifter till Skatteverket samt för att kunna göra en relevant riskbedömning.


As you can see, the paragraph shifts back and forth between ”should”-statements and present indicative statements:

[...] ska en mer djupgående utredning av strukturen genomföras […]
"A more in-depth investigation of the structure should/must be done ...”
(I.e., this is an instruction that the reader is meant to take into account.)

and then

I samband med denna utredning görs en bedömning [...]
”In connection with this investigation, an assessment is done […]"
(Which I interpret to mean that this is what people generally do – the reader of these instructions can largely take for granted that it will be done.)

and then back to another ”should”-statement (bör), and so on.

I find this kind of back-and-forth to be rather confusing a lot of the time.
E.g., in the quoted paragraph, it would make a lot more sense to me if all the sentences were understood as instructions to the reader.

Therefore, I wonder:
Should the indicative verbs above (”görs”, ”bedöms”) be interpreted as implicit instructions: ”should be done”/”should be assessed”, or similar?

Thanks for your time,
Gavril
 
  • MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    Therefore, I wonder:
    Should the indicative verbs above (”görs”, ”bedöms”) be interpreted as implicit instructions: ”should be done”/”should be assessed”, or similar?

    The two verbs you put in parenthesis, ”görs” and ”bedöms”, I would interpret as simply stating what is done, not as instructions of what should happen. I interpret them that way because it seems that the author is talking about what their organization will do in those instances. I think this is also in your translation of ”görs en bedömning”.

    When the sentence pivots back to the "should"-statement (bör) I interpret that as basically a justification or clarification of why something is happening. I think it's basically saying that the norm or expected outcome is to view

    "En juridisk person som har sitt säte eller skatterättsliga hemvist i ett högrisktredjeland"

    as being based in that country ("bör anses vara etablerad där" - though note that "etablerad" may have a different translation)

    but then gives a caveat that it is still a matter of verifying that on a case-by-case basis

    "men en bedömning behöver göras från fall till fall."



    Personally I suppose I don't find it that confusing and I think I understand the meaning of it all, or at least the gist of it. But I can see how it might seem inconsistent for non-native speakers.
     

    Gavril

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Hi MattiasNYC,

    Thanks for replying.

    The two verbs you put in parenthesis, ”görs” and ”bedöms”, I would interpret as simply stating what is done, not as instructions of what should happen. I interpret them that way because it seems that the author is talking about what their organization will do in those instances.

    OK, but why would "genomföra en mer djupgående utredning ..." be characterized as something that *should* happen, while "göra en bedömning" is characterized as something that *will* happen?

    E.g., is there something more passive or inevitable about the second one compared to the first?

    I think what puzzles me is that both of these actions are seemingly part of the bank's anti-money-laundering procedures, and both would be performed by the same overall group of people (the staff of the bank). And since the text is a set of internal instructions about these procedures, I'd think that every action involved in the instructions is a "should" or "must" or similar.
     

    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    OK, but why would "genomföra en mer djupgående utredning ..." be characterized as something that *should* happen, while "göra en bedömning" is characterized as something that *will* happen?

    I don't think I addressed those. But for the first I would say that as it is written initially (not the way you just wrote it) it is stating what will (and should) happen;

    "Avseende de kunder som bedöms ha en komplicerad bolagsstruktur ska en mer djupgående utredning av strukturen genomföras och dokumenteras." That's basically a demand.

    For the second that you just wrote I'm not sure which entry you're talking about since you rewrote it. In "En juridisk person som har sitt säte eller skatterättsliga hemvist i ett högrisktredjeland bör anses vara etablerad där men en bedömning behöver göras från fall till fall." it's just stating that something needs to happen for that group. The key is the use of "behöver göras".

    Att behöva göra" = To need to do
    Behöver göras = Needs to be done
    en bedömning behöver göras = an evaluation needs to be done


    The next entry (last sentence); "Banken behöver känna till kundens skattehemvist för att dels kunna lämna finansiella uppgifter till Skatteverket samt för att kunna göra en relevant riskbedömning."

    för att kunna göra = in order to be able to


    So in neither case would I interpret / translate that as something will happen in a direct translation.

    I think what puzzles me is that both of these actions are seemingly part of the bank's anti-money-laundering procedures, and both would be performed by the same overall group of people (the staff of the bank). And since the text is a set of internal instructions about these procedures, I'd think that every action involved in the instructions is a "should" or "must" or similar.

    I sort of agree. But I think it's more that you understand the gist of it and conclude that these things will happen rather than them being worded that way. Like I said, I don't really find it all that oddly phrased necessarily and I'm not sure why.

    Hopefully someone who is better at using actual linguistic terminology can better explain it.
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I interpret the "ska" actions to be performed by the tax subject, while the indicative actions performed by te tax authorities.
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Without more context I wouldn't read it that way.
    I thought that an investigation of the structure of the company was to be performed by the company itself.
    Avseende de kunder som bedöms ha en komplicerad bolagsstruktur ska en mer djupgående utredning av strukturen genomföras och dokumenteras.
    If this is not the case, then what is the purpose of the use of "ska" only in this sentence?
     

    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    I don't think it matters if it's "ska" or a word that is less of a demand because that word doesn't determine who the sentence is aimed at. I think who that sentence is issuing a command to is unclear and is likely found within a larger context. I think it could just as well apply to a bank employee reading it as an instruction.

    If the paragraph was aimed at a potential entity that's in question (not the bank) and it was an instruction I'd think something like "Om ni bedöms ha en komplicerad bolagsstruktur skall ni genomföra.." That would be a clear instruction.

    That's my view on it.
     

    Gavril

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    I interpret the "ska" actions to be performed by the tax subject, while the indicative actions performed by te tax authorities.

    Since the text is a set of procedural instructions for a bank, I would imagine that the "ska" is addressed to the bank staff – they need to investigate the structure of certain companies that they do business with (or that are candidates for doing business with).

    I don't think I addressed those. But for the first I would say that as it is written initially (not the way you just wrote it) it is stating what will (and should) happen;

    "Avseende de kunder som bedöms ha en komplicerad bolagsstruktur ska en mer djupgående utredning av strukturen genomföras och dokumenteras." That's basically a demand.

    For the second that you just wrote I'm not sure which entry you're talking about since you rewrote it.

    Apologies, I was referring to this sentence, which directly follows the one you addressed above:

    I samband med denna utredning görs en bedömning huruvida kunden kan anses vara etablerad i ett högrisktredjeland.

    My question is, why is the investigation of the structure (en mer djupgående utredning av strukturen) presented as something that should happen, while the above-mentioned assessment regarding high-risk countries is presented as something that simply happens or will happen?
     
    Last edited:

    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    En bedömning görs...
    En bedomning skall göras...

    En fångad bov förs till fängelset...
    En fångad bov skall föras till fängelset...

    En god middag äts med gott vin...
    En god middag skall ätas med gott vin...

    And so on. Linguistically I can't explain it, but the first in each pair tells us what happens, and the second what should happen. The word "skall" is key. I suppose the first is descriptive and the second prescriptive... (?)

    However, I think it isn't necessarily unusual to hear the descriptive version more as a prescription. You could maybe imagine a conversation that in a great seafood restaurant goes:

    A: Jag tar en Gatorade.
    B: Vad sa du?! Nej, nej, nej.. En god middag äts med gott vin!

    In context B is imploring A to do something so it comes off as a "should-statement".

    On the other hand if we were a disembodied voice narrating the scene we might say "En vacker restaurang. En vacker kväll. En fantastisk middag äts med gott vin." Not exactly top quality literature, but you get the idea - the sentences now describe an event that is taking place rather than say what is to be done.
     

    Gavril

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    En bedömning görs...
    En bedomning skall göras...

    [...]

    However, I think it isn't necessarily unusual to hear the descriptive version more as a prescription.

    OK, this clarifies things a bit more.

    Is there a difference of tone / degree / etc. between "en bedömning görs" (as used in the prescriptive sense you mention) and "en bedömning ska(ll) göras"?

    Can you think of a likely reason why the author of the quoted instructions uses one of these options in the first sentence, and the other in the next? :

    Avseende de kunder som bedöms ha en komplicerad bolagsstruktur ska en mer djupgående utredning av strukturen genomföras och dokumenteras. I samband med denna utredning görs en bedömning huruvida kunden kan anses vara etablerad i ett högrisktredjeland.
     

    MattiasNYC

    Senior Member
    Swedish
    The way I see it the first introduces us to what applies to a subset of customers, and it tells us that an investigation shall take place. The second sentence expands on it by telling us what happens during that investigation, namely that an evaluation is done relating to where the customer is 'established' (or other words).

    The evaluation is in a way initiated by the investigation, so there's really only a need to state that the investigation shall take place since the evaluation 'follows' automatically. You could perhaps say "Those individuals who are deemed to have a complex tax filing shall be audited. During that audit an evaluation is made whether the individual is to be considered X". The latter follows the former so there's no need for "shall".

    That's the way I see it. I'm not sure this is particularly common in Swedish.
     

    Gavril

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Thanks, I think this comes close to clearing the matter up.


    The way I see it the first introduces us to what applies to a subset of customers, and it tells us that an investigation shall take place.
    [...]
    The evaluation is in a way initiated by the investigation, so there's really only a need to state that the investigation shall take place since the evaluation 'follows' automatically.

    By "shall", you mean "should", "must" or similar, correct?

    (It's important to clarify this because, although "shall" can have an implication of necessity / obligation, it's fairly rare in modern-day conversational English, so not all modern-day English speakers readily recognize a difference between "shall" and "will".)
     
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