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Tim och britterna

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Meddysong
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56 posts - 84 votes 
Speaks: English*, Esperanto, French
Studies: Italian, Catalan
Studies: Swedish

 
 Message 1 of 34
10 May 2015 at 12:54pm | IP Logged 
Hello! I'm Tim and I've set myself a silly challenge. It's not the first one. A few months ago I decided to buy a book in Catalan because it was very cheap. This book was 1300 pages long and I hadn't even thought about studying Catalan. Not my cleverest idea. I'm currently 50% the way through and enjoying it though.

In 12 days' time I and my other half will be in Sweden. I hit upon the bright idea of doing a six-week challenge in Swedish beforehand but, alas, didn't actually get started. It's realistically far too late now, especially since we'll be in Italy a few days after coming home from Sweden and I need to make sure I've read a few Italian books before too.

So I've modified my challenge to myself. Before I started studying Catalan I bought an Asterix book in the language and used that as a way of teaching myself the grammar of the language. And it just so happens I have something to hand that might be useful for Swedish too:



So, my challenge to myself will be to teach myself the basics of Swedish by using a copy of Asterix och britterna. I will need to have read that book before we go away. And I must've understood it too.

I have some tools to help me:



That dictionary's going to become my best friend. I don't think I'll get around to using that copy of TY, but at least it's there if I think I've identified a grammatical feature and want to double-check. I won't be writing in Swedish but it's possible I'll identify a verb form and want to see what it corresponds to, so the book on verbs might be a useful tool.

And if I really get into trouble, then I have a get-out-of-jail card:



I have copies of the same story in French and Italian too, so I can effectively use them as parallel texts :)

If I get on well with this, then I might consider buying a copy of a book whilst I'm in Sweden and replicating my Catalan challenge. I've learnt my lesson, though - no more 1300-page books in a language I don't yet know!

Edited by Meddysong on 10 May 2015 at 1:13pm

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Meddysong
Triglot
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United Kingdom
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Speaks: English*, Esperanto, French
Studies: Italian, Catalan
Studies: Swedish

 
 Message 2 of 34
10 May 2015 at 1:04pm | IP Logged 
First things first, here's what I already know about Swedish:

- It has a few more letters than English. I'm thinking of the additional kinds of a (one with a diareseis and one with a ring, I think), plus the o with a diaresis.

- The verbs look extremely regular. They seem to take an -r for all persons, the infinitives ending in -a.

- There is a negative particle inte for negation.

- There are two genders; common and natural. There used to be three but masculine and feminine merged into common.

- There is some sort of particle equivalent to English shall/will for the future.

- I know the subject pronouns. (Need to get used to vi and ni being the opposites of how they are in Esperanto.)

- Interrogatives are formed by subject-verb inversion or the placing of a question word.

That's about it. I've got 12 days to do the book and it's 48 pages long, so it ought to be possible to finish it and learn a lot more about the language.
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tarvos
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 Message 3 of 34
10 May 2015 at 1:58pm | IP Logged 
The letters are not diareses; they're just actually separate letters and come at the end
of dictionaries.

All verbs take -r in the present, except for passive verbs like "det finns" which always
take an -s.
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Meddysong
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Speaks: English*, Esperanto, French
Studies: Italian, Catalan
Studies: Swedish

 
 Message 4 of 34
12 May 2015 at 7:22am | IP Logged 
I've started reading. I haven't actually made it to the story yet, though. I'll probably get faster when I stop writing everything down and using my dictionary for every other word.

Here are my notes to myself from the introduction:

- Hela Gallien är ockuperat av romarna

There’s an adjective in -at? -rat? In other languages this might also be a past participle because the forms are identical. With passive forms the agent is introduced by av, of. The plural of romare is romarna. Maybe this is a regular plural marker.

- En liten by, som befalkas av evetna galler

Another passive construction. Tarvos indicated earlier that passive verb forms end in -s, so this corresponds.

- ... livet lätt för de romerska soldaterna

Livet has the article affixed to it. There seems to be an adjective ending -sk. I know it already from svensk and engelsk. There’s an -a added to it; plural marker? The plural of soldat is soldaterna. That fits the earlier pattern for romerna.

- Våra Galler

It appears that vår (= our) conjugates for number.

- Asterix ... är en listig liten krigare med gristrande intelligens

Med (= with) can be used to introduce descriptions. It doesn’t have to mean with only in the customary sense. I expect I'll find it used for "the boy with blonde hair" too.

- Han genomför utan tvekan alla farliga uppdrag han anförtros (= he carries out without hesitation every tasks with which he is entrusted)

According to the dictionary the adjective is farlig. I need to keep an eye out for why that -a is added. The verb form ends in -s. Tarvos pointed out to me earlier that passive verbs do this and this fits here. I’ve noticed there’s no relative pronoun here. In English we can choose to omit it but I haven’t come across that option in other languages before.

- Asterix får en övermänsklig kraft genom en trolldryck som druiden Miraculix framställer (= Asterix gets a superhuman strength through a potion which the druid Miraculix produces)

Genom = through, by means of. The article has fixed itself to the back of the noun druid. So, indefinite = en druid, definite = druiden. There is a relative pronoun som corresponding to that/which.

- Obelix är Asterix’ oskiljaktige vän (= Obelix is Asterix’s inseparable friend)

I don’t like that apostrophe, just because I haven’t seen it used outside of English. I’ve seen elsewhere that there’s a genitive ending -s in Swedish. Maybe the apostrophe means “we can’t stick an -s here because the word ends in -x and xs isn’t possible“?

- Men han är alltid beredd att lägga allt annat åt sidan för all följa med Asterix ut på forliga äventyr (= But he is always willing to put everything else aside to follow Asterix on further adventures)

Men = but. Att seems to be similar to English to when used in the sense “in order to“.

- Miraculix, byns gamla druid

A-ha. by = town, so byn must be “the town“ with the article appended. So, byns = “the town’s“. I’m not sure why it’s “gamla druid“ when the dictionary gives the form “gamall“ for old.

- Hans värdefullaste dryck den som ger övermänskliga kraft (= His most valuable potion is the one which gives superhuman strength)

Lots of useful things here. Han + s = his. There exists a superlative form ending in -ste. There’s a pronoun to mean “the one“, den, which I presume means there’s another one, det, for the other gender.

- Det är delade meningar on hans talang

“There is/are“ = “Det är“.

- Men så länge han häller sig tyrst, är han en trivsam gosse som alla uppskatar (= But as long as he is silent, he’s a nice boy whom everybody likes)

There’s an inversion of subject and verb in the sub-clause.

- ... en ... gammal krigare som respekteras av folket och fruktas av fienden (= an old warrior [who is] respected by the people and feared by the enemy)

More passive verbs and confirmation that the definite forms are given by appending the indefinite article to the noun.

- Majestix fruktar bara en sok - att himlen ska falla ned över hans huvud! (= M fears only one thing - that the sky will fall on his head!)

Att seems to be an important word. I likened it earlier to “in order to“. Here it is “that“. I’ve got confirmation that a future form is generated by particle [ska] plus infinitive.

- Varför oroa sig för morgendagen?

As with other languages, if there’s no subject then the infinitive is used.
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tarvos
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 Message 5 of 34
12 May 2015 at 7:49am | IP Logged 
With my slightly larger experience of Swedish, I'll give you some extra notes to help
you along for a bit!

Meddysong wrote:


- Hela Gallien är ockuperat av romarna

There’s an adjective in -at? -rat? In other languages this might also be a past
participle because the forms are identical. With passive forms the agent is introduced
by av, of. The plural of romare is romarna. Maybe this is
a regular plural marker.

This is not just an adjective, but it is actually the past participle. In Swedish,
unlike English, the perfect is formed with a different verb form called the supine
(which doesn't decline). In passive sentences and when the participle is used as an
adjective, it declines as such. The ending is -ad (common)/-at(neuter)/-ade(plural).
The reason there is an r in this verb is because the infinitive is -era, which is a
very common form for words loaned from Latin and French and one of the productive verb
forms in this language. Almost all new words you will see in Swedish end in -era
.

- En liten by, som befalkas av evetna galler

Another passive construction. Tarvos indicated earlier that passive verb forms end in
-s, so this corresponds.

- ... livet lätt för de romerska soldaterna

Livet has the article affixed to it. There seems to be an adjective ending -sk.
I know it already from svensk and engelsk. There’s an -a added to it;
plural marker? The plural of soldat is soldaterna. That fits the earlier
pattern for romerna.

-a marks not only the plural, but is always used in the definite form. "den
romerska soldaten"


- Våra Galler

It appears that vår (= our) conjugates for number.

- Asterix ... är en listig liten krigare med gristrande intelligens

Med (= with) can be used to introduce descriptions. It doesn’t have to mean
with only in the customary sense. I expect I'll find it used for "the boy with
blonde hair" too.

- Han genomför utan tvekan alla farliga uppdrag han anförtros (= he carries out
without hesitation every tasks with which he is entrusted)

According to the dictionary the adjective is farlig. I need to keep an eye out
for why that -a is added. The verb form ends in -s. Tarvos pointed out to me earlier
that passive verbs do this and this fits here. I’ve noticed there’s no relative
pronoun here. In English we can choose to omit it but I haven’t come across that
option in other languages before.

Swedish has a sentence structure much like English. There are a few exceptions,
and this is when Swedish follows a so-called V2 order; in Swedish the verb must always
come second in the sentence, just like in every Germanic language except for English
(and maybe Icelandic?). Here the -a marks the plural - uppdrag is a neuter (-ett) ord,
and it is indefinite plural. Indefinite plural -ett ords often have a zero ending in
Swedish).


- Asterix får en övermänsklig kraft genom en trolldryck som druiden Miraculix
framställer (= Asterix gets a superhuman strength through a potion which the druid
Miraculix produces)

Genom = through, by means of. The article has fixed itself to the back of the noun
druid. So, indefinite = en druid, definite = druiden. There is a relative
pronoun som corresponding to that/which.

- Obelix är Asterix’ oskiljaktige vän (= Obelix is Asterix’s inseparable friend)

I don’t like that apostrophe, just because I haven’t seen it used outside of English.
I’ve seen elsewhere that there’s a genitive ending -s in Swedish. Maybe the apostrophe
means “we can’t stick an -s here because the word ends in -x and xs isn’t possible“?

Actually Dutch would do the same thing here. The genitive ending -s is skipped on
words with x and s, because you can't double the s, and is therefore indicated with
the apostrophe. This seems to be a general Germanic trend


- Men han är alltid beredd att lägga allt annat åt sidan för all följa med Asterix ut
på forliga äventyr (= But he is always willing to put everything else aside to follow
Asterix on further adventures)

Men = but. Att seems to be similar to English to when used in the sense “in
order to“.

för att = in order to. Att is either the infinitive marker or that. To get "in
order to" you need to add the för"


- Miraculix, byns gamla druid

A-ha. by = town, so byn must be “the town“ with the article appended.
So, byns = “the town’s“. I’m not sure why it’s “gamla druid“ when the
dictionary gives the form “gamall“ for old.

"gammal", and this is the definite article declension. You will have noticed by now
that adjectives decline differently dependent on whether the noun that follows is
definite or indefinite. This is a key characteristic of all Germanic languages and is
most prominent in Icelandic and German, but is still noticeable in Swedish and Dutch
to a lesser extent even though they refuse to bow to case systems.


- Hans värdefullaste dryck den som ger övermänskliga kraft (= His most valuable potion
is the one which gives superhuman strength)

Lots of useful things here. Han + s = his. There exists a superlative form ending in -
ste. There’s a pronoun to mean “the one“, den, which I presume means there’s
another one, det, for the other gender. and de for the plural, usually
pronounced "dom" but may not be so in dialect.


- Det är delade meningar on hans talang

“There is/are“ = “Det är“.

- Men så länge han häller sig tyrst, är han en trivsam gosse som alla uppskatar (= But
as long as he is silent, he’s a nice boy whom everybody likes)

There’s an inversion of subject and verb in the sub-clause. typical of Germanic
languages; this is one of the nightmares you encounter if you are an English speaker
trying to learn a Germanic language. It is obvious to the others because Dutch and
German contain such a rule (not to mention the others obviously).


- ... en ... gammal krigare som respekteras av folket och fruktas av fienden (= an old
warrior [who is] respected by the people and feared by the enemy)

More passive verbs and confirmation that the definite forms are given by appending the
indefinite article to the noun.

- Majestix fruktar bara en sok - att himlen ska falla ned över hans huvud! (= M fears
only one thing - that the sky will fall on his head!)

Att seems to be an important word. I likened it earlier to “in order to“. Here
it is “that“. I’ve got confirmation that a future form is generated by particle [ska]
plus infinitive. ska + infinitive is future form, cognate with English shall.

- Varför oroa sig för morgendagen?

As with other languages, if there’s no subject then the infinitive is used.


I've left most of your observations untouched, but I've added some explanations
regarding word order and the adjectival declension. Adjectives decline not only based
on number and gender, but also definiteness. This is extremely typical of continental
Germanic languages as well as Icelandic. Swedish actually has one of the milder forms;
only Dutch and Afrikaans are simpler. (and I think Danish/Norwegian are equal).
5 persons have voted this message useful



Meddysong
Triglot
Groupie
United Kingdom
timeofftakeoff.com
Joined 1839 days ago

56 posts - 84 votes 
Speaks: English*, Esperanto, French
Studies: Italian, Catalan
Studies: Swedish

 
 Message 6 of 34
12 May 2015 at 8:45am | IP Logged 
That's super helpful, Tarvos - thanks! Definiteness is a new one for me and will take a while to sink in. I've read your notes a couple of times, so if I make a mistake next time, it's not that I haven't read them, just that they haven't yet sunk in :)
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tarvos
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Studies: Greek, Modern Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Korean, Esperanto, Finnish

 
 Message 7 of 34
12 May 2015 at 9:36am | IP Logged 
Don't hesitate to ask for more information. There aren't that many Swedes on HTLAL
besides Jeff, Ari and eydimörk, and even fewer who post regularly in the logs. I'm not a
native Swede, so I may be hazy on some of the details (please refer to the natives for
those) but I've got a pretty all right background in Swedish (and in the Germanic
languages in general).
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Sarnek
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 Message 8 of 34
12 May 2015 at 9:37am | IP Logged 
I wish you the best of luck with your Swedish!

Edited by Sarnek on 12 May 2015 at 9:38am



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