Unexpected complexity of Swedish pronouns, and escaping the resulting embarrassment


I dreamed that Swedish had separate third-person-plural pronouns based on gender. They were formed from han and hon by adding a common suffix, but the pattern broke down for det, and I got stuck trying to finish a sentence without knowing the correct word.

I was able to escape from this embarrassing situation by using a technique available only in dreams: I woke up.

Comments (13)
  1. Zaz says:

    And what about 'den'?

    [In my dream, I didn't need to pluralize den (yet). -Raymond]
  2. Mason Wheeler says:

    Endis vurn, nan der han nighty-maren, hoon der sleepy-det, voon hur wakey-oopen! Bork! Bork! Bork!

  3. Ken Hagan says:

    @Mason: I assume that's (vaguely) Swedish but since I don't speak the language I used google translate, which informed me that it is in fact Afrikaans for "Endis vurn, nan of trade Nighty buts, scorn of sleepy det conditions hur wakey-oopen! Bork! Bork! Bork!".

    Now I want to know what the trade in Nighty buts is all about, and why my grandmother Endis (who plies this trade, though she never said anything about it to me) is so down on sleepy det conditions.

  4. j b says:

    Ken Hagan,

    No, it is not at all Swedish. I am Norwegian myself, but Swedish is closer to (standard) Norwegian than some Norwegian dialects are. I don't recognize a single word as meaningful Swedish (except by accident – e.g. "hur" is a Swedish word, but it makes no sense whatsoever in the sentence. no matter what the other words are. ("Hur" is a questioning "How?")

  5. Clearly that is fake language that is designed to actually be comprehensible to an english speaking person, hence the nighty-maren for nightmares, sleepy-det for sleep debt and wakey-oopen for waking up.

  6. Lee C. says:

    Sounds a bit like the fake Swedish in the 1968 parody "De Düva" (Madeline Kahn's first film), which included such choice translations as "zooner-or-later-ska" for "eventually", and "aitch-too-oh-ska" for "water".

  7. Gabe says:

    Ken (and those who responded to him), I highly suggest searching for "Bork! Bork! Bork!" on your favorite search engine.

  8. PavelS says:

    Czech language is in halfway to your dream. Pronoun "oni" means simply "they", eg. gender-neutral. But if the group you are talking about consists only of feminine-gender things (for example girls, chairs, mountains, etc.) , you can say "ony". It's not used very much in common everyday speaking and sounds maybe little bit archaic, but it's possible. Unfortunately there isn't any special pronoun for group of masculine-gender things :-(

  9. Neil says:

    @Gabe: Or they could just go straight to http://www.google.com/…/xx-bork

  10. Sven E. Banan says:

    What was the suffix?

    Han -> Dehan

    Hon -> Dehon

    Den -> Deden

    Det -> Dedet

    :)

  11. Sven E. Banan says:

    Oh. Suffix.

    Han -> Handom

    Hon -> Hondom

    Den -> Dendom

    Det -> Dendom

  12. Mason Wheeler says:

    @Neil: Wow, that's kind of awesome. I haven't seen that before.

    @Everyone else but Gabe: For shame! How can you not recognize someone doing Swedish Chef speech?

Comments are closed.