A Simplified Grammar of the Swedish Language/Part I/Articles

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THE ARTICLES. (Artikeln.)

Three genders are recognized in Swedish, viz. the masculine, feminine, and neuter.

The Articles agree in gender and number with the noun to which they refer.

There are three Articles: the "Indefinite" (obestämd), and two forms of the "Definite" (bestämd), (1) the Affixed or Terminal Article (slutartikel), and (2) the Independent (fristående) Article.

The Indefinite Article, which precedes the noun, or the adjective which qualifies the latter, is as follows:—

masc. and femin. genders.   neuter gender.
en, a, an. ett, a, an.

Examples: en gosse, m., 'a boy,' en flitig gosse, 'a diligent boy;' en flicka, f., 'a girl,' en vacker flicka, 'a fine girl;' ett barn, n., 'a child,' ett godt barn, 'a good child.'

The Affix or Terminal Definite Article consists of the following particles, which are incorporated with the noun:—

Singular.
masc. and femin. gender.   neuter gender.
en or n, the, et or t, the.
Plural.
ne, na, en or a, the.

Examples: dag, m., 'day,' dagen, 'the day;' blomma, f., 'flower,' blomman, 'the flower;' namn, n., 'name,' namnet, 'the name;' rike, n., 'kingdom,' riket, 'the kingdom;' dalar, m. pl., 'valleys,' dalarne, 'the valleys;' sagor, f. pl., 'tales,' sagorna, 'the tales;' namn, n. pl., 'names,' namnen, 'the names;' riken, n. pl., 'kingdoms,' rikena, 'the kingdoms.'

The proper application of these affixes depends, (1) upon the form of declension to which the noun belongs; (2) on whether the word ends in a vowel or a consonant; and (3) on considerations of euphony.

This mode of incorporating the article with the noun is a special characteristic of the Scandinavian tongues which they derive from the Old Northern. It does not exist in Old Gothic, but it is met with under a modified form in Albanian, and in the kindred languages of Bulgaria, and Roumania.

In the Old Northern we may trace the origin of this method of noun-and-article agglutination to a grammatical construction which admitted of putting a demonstrative pronoun after the noun which it defined; as, madr hinn, m., 'man that;' eik hin, f., 'oak that;' dyr hitt, n., 'animal that;' hestar hinir, m. pl., 'horses those;' tungur hinar, f. pl., 'tongues those;' börn hin, n. pl., 'children those.'

In the course of time the noun and pronoun were connected in writing, as madrhinn; and finally, in following the current mode of pronunciation, the h was dropped, leaving only as suffixes inn, in, itt, pl., ir, ar, in. The Scandinavian twin branches of language, known as Svenska, Swedish, and Dansk-Norsk, Dano-Norwegian, which have been derived from the Old Northern as their common mother tongue, have followed a similar process. Thus for example, dag hinn, 'day that,' gradually assumed its present agglutinated form of dagen, 'the day.'

The demonstrative pronoun served in Old Northern to define the object, like a simple definite article, of which there is no other representative in the older Icelandic writings; nor is there any trace of a distinct indefinite article till a comparatively recent period, when its place was supplied by the numeral einn, mas., ein, fem., eitt, n., 'one.' From this has been derived the modern Swedish article en, ett, 'a,' 'an,' which is merely the unaccentuated form of the word which expresses the numeral 'one.'

The Swedish Independent Definite Article (Fristående Artikel), is:—

Singular. Plural.
masc. and fem.   neuter.   all genders.
den, the det, the de, the.

This article is merely an unaccentuated form of the demonstrative pronouns, dēn, dēt, , derived from the Old Northern hinn, hin, hitt, hinir, hinar, hin. It directly precedes the noun which it defines, or the adjective which qualifies the latter; as, den gosse, 'the boy;' den qvinna, 'the woman;' det barn, 'the child;' de dalar, m., 'the valleys;' de sagor, f., 'the tales;' de bälten, n., 'the belts.' Den flitige gossen, 'the diligent boy;' den ädla qvinnan, f., 'the noble woman;' det goda barnet, 'the good child;' de djupa dalarne, m., 'the deep valleys;' de gamla sagorna, 'the ancient tales;' de korta bältena, 'the short belts.'

Here it will be observed that the noun, when preceded by an adjective, takes both the affixed article and the independent definite article. This pleonasm is peculiar to the Swedish branch of the Scandinavian languages, Dano-Norwegian dispensing with the terminal affix when the noun is preceded by an adjective with the requisite independent or adjective form of the definite article.

In many instances, however, and under certain conditions, the terminal article is dropped in Swedish when the noun is qualified by an adjective.