Scandinavian for beginners, part 2

Flag - EngelskWhen I sat down to write this month’s post, I initially wanted to write something about Brexit. I made a couple of attempts but honestly, I have to admit that I just don’t have the words – I could write about the feeling of betrayal and disconnection I and many others of my generation feel towards the country that’s been our home for most (if not all) of our lives. I could write about sitting down to dinner with your family and dreading the topic coming up in conversation, because you know it could drastically and irreversibly alter the way you feel towards any or all of your family members. I could talk about the future plans that now seem so out of reach or uncertain because the people who landed us in this position have little to no idea what to do now, and have left the rest of us hoping for the best but dreading the worst. But no, I won’t do that. It’s been done, and far more eloquently than I ever could. So I decided to write something that could be of use in these dark times.

If you, like me, are considering jumping ship before it’s too late, now might be a good opportunity to brush up on your language skills – so here it is: Scandinavian for beginners, part two. If you missed part one, don’t worry, you can find it here. I’d advise going back and reading that first before continuing, as I’ll be dealing with different aspects of the language in each post and it will most certainly be better (for cohesion’s sake) to read them in order. So go on, go back and read the first part before you come back here. I’ll wait.

Are you back? Okay, good. Let’s crack on. I believe I said I was going to talk about verb conjugation in the Scandinavian languages, so that’s what I’ll do. Those of you who were tortured with French, German an even Latin at school will recoil at the sound of the word conjugation – but I’m here to tell you that it’s definitely not something to be feared in Scandinavian. In modern Danish, Swedish and Norwegian, verbs aren’t conjugated for person or number – that is to say, they don’t change depending on who the person doing the action is, they only change for tense. Take these, for example, conjugated in the present tense:

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Didn’t I tell you they were easy? Let’s try one more very useful one, just to make sure you’ve got it cemented in your head:

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Simple as that! For most verbs, you form the present tense by adding the suffix ‘-r’ to the root form of the verb. This doesn’t apply to the verb ‘(to) be’, because it – as with most languages – is irregular. Let’s try and put these verbs to good use, shall we? The only thing you’re going to need in addition to these are some country names, which you will find below, and the prepositions i and . These are the same in all three languages, and mean ‘in’ and ‘on/at’, respectively.

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Skærmbillede 2016-07-01 kl. 21.33.23Skærmbillede 2016-07-01 kl. 21.26.14So now, dear reader, you should be able to say who you are, and where you live! Here are a couple of… well, just general examples to get you going, but honestly, it really is every bit as simple as it looks. And just a reminder from the last lesson, it’s also perfectly correct (and really, encouraged) to use the verbs hedde, hete, and heta when introducing yourself. I’m just using være, være and vara for simplicity in this lesson. We’ll go through some more complicated sentences next time, but hopefully this will keep you going for a little while. So why don’t you introduce yourself to the boys in the comments? I’m sure they’d love to make your acquaintance. And if I haven’t provided a translation for the country you live in, feel free to ask what it is in the comments, I’ll only be too happy to oblige. As always, thank you very much for reading, and I’ll see you next month.

– J.

Scandinavian for beginners, part 1 / 2 / 3.

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