å

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Kenneth
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å

Postby Kenneth » 2019-02-24, 17:12

Can anyone help me with the word "å" in the following sentence:
”Fru Mrs Th. May i Storbritannien är ett gott exempel härpå, hånad och häcklad som hon ju s.g.s dagligen blir i sitt parlament, där man buar å ett föga gentlemannamässigt sätt." (from: Göteborgs-Posten, 24.02.19)
Is this interchangeable with "på"? Is it a common usage?

Alatius
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Re: å

Postby Alatius » 2019-02-27, 23:04

"Å" is an old form of "på", used here in a deliberately archaic way. Today it is not normally used, except in some fixed phrases, notably "å andra sidan", where it on the other hand is completely normal. (Note that "å andra sidan" is normally not synonymous with "på andra sidan"! The first means "on the other hand", the later means "on the other side".)

The etymology of "på" is a bit interesting. The original form of this preposition was simply this "å" that you have noticed. It is related with the English "on". And just as in English, it was often used in the combination "uppå" ("upon"). But what happened was that this word started to be perceived as "upp-på" instead of "upp-å", and then people started to say "på" even without the preceding "upp". (Imagine, if you like, an alternative history form of the English language where "pon" is the regular preposition, and "on", to the extent it is used at all, sounds quaintly Victorian!)

Kenneth
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Re: å

Postby Kenneth » 2019-02-28, 9:41

Thank you for a very complete explanation

Alatius
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Re: å

Postby Alatius » 2019-02-28, 13:18

No problem! I looked into your quotation a bit more, and it turned out that it originated from "Grönköpings Veckoblad", a long-standing humoristical publication where this kind of deliberate and exaggerated archaic language is de rigueur. It can be quite fun, but probably not the best example if you want to learn standard Swedish. :)

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Woods
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Re: å

Postby Woods » 2020-01-20, 2:51

Alatius wrote:The etymology of "på" is a bit interesting. The original form of this preposition was simply this "å" that you have noticed. It is related with the English "on". And just as in English, it was often used in the combination "uppå" ("upon"). But what happened was that this word started to be perceived as "upp-på" instead of "upp-å", and then people started to say "på" even without the preceding "upp". (Imagine, if you like, an alternative history form of the English language where "pon" is the regular preposition, and "on", to the extent it is used at all, sounds quaintly Victorian!)

Quite interesting!

What about Danish and Norwegian? In the former, the preposition is definitely also på, and is used the exact same way as in Swedish. Or did the change you were talking about occur before Swedish and Danish split into two separate languages?

Or was it initially å in Swedish, but på in Danish? Actually the preposition по exists also in Bulgarian and Russian, with slightly different but similar meanings. Russians even say по-русски the same way Swedes say på svenska. We don't do that, but we might say по пътя за вкъщи as a Dane might say på vej hjem.

These are my observations without any factual knowledge of the origin and evolution of this preposition in these languages - maybe somebody else could explain the link between them or lack thereof?

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Johanna
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Re: å

Postby Johanna » 2020-04-06, 3:46

Woods wrote:
Alatius wrote:The etymology of "på" is a bit interesting. The original form of this preposition was simply this "å" that you have noticed. It is related with the English "on". And just as in English, it was often used in the combination "uppå" ("upon"). But what happened was that this word started to be perceived as "upp-på" instead of "upp-å", and then people started to say "på" even without the preceding "upp". (Imagine, if you like, an alternative history form of the English language where "pon" is the regular preposition, and "on", to the extent it is used at all, sounds quaintly Victorian!)

Quite interesting!

What about Danish and Norwegian? In the former, the preposition is definitely also på, and is used the exact same way as in Swedish. Or did the change you were talking about occur before Swedish and Danish split into two separate languages?

Or was it initially å in Swedish, but på in Danish? Actually the preposition по exists also in Bulgarian and Russian, with slightly different but similar meanings. Russians even say по-русски the same way Swedes say på svenska. We don't do that, but we might say по пътя за вкъщи as a Dane might say på vej hjem.

These are my observations without any factual knowledge of the origin and evolution of this preposition in these languages - maybe somebody else could explain the link between them or lack thereof?

I'm not exactly sure when the shift between å and happened, but it was definitely after we start talking about Old Danish, Norwegian and Swedish as opposed to Old Norse.

The thing is, this cut-off point is arbitrary and simply set at a very convenient point: when rune stones fell out of fashion. Then there's a gap of 100-150 years where all preserved texts are in Latin, and also religious in nature IIRC, before you start seeing laws in the local tongues. It's set before the Great Vowel Dance even, so the preposition was still á, just like in Old Norse. (Faroese and Icelandic keep it to this day, but they have since changed the pronunciation from /aː/, or possibly /ɑː/; Faroese uses /ɔaː/ or /aː/ depending on dialect, and Icelandic /auː/.)

In any case, it seems to simply have been yet another of those things that happened all over Scandinavia that further separated those varieties from its island cousins. And it makes much more sense to speak about regions and dialects when it comes to Danish, Norwegian and Swedish from that perspective, especially since they still were one big dialect continuum until at least the mid-20th century.

As for the Slavic по, it's a complete coincidence. It's a cognate of German von and Dutch van, which rather mean something like "from", or perhaps a combination of that and "of". The Bulgarian cognate of is на, which I think can mean "on" in other contexts?
Swedish (sv) native; English (en) good; Norwegian (no) read fluently, understand well, speak badly; Danish (dk) read fluently, understand badly, can't speak; Faroese (fo) read some, understand a bit, speak a few sentences; German (de) French (fr) Spanish (es) forgetting; heritage language.


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