arnezeder (arnezeder) wrote in linguaphiles,

swedish question!

"För varje dag som vågade sitt liv, för längtan var så stark och ändrade på allt."

I've been peering at this Hedningarna lyric for a few days and wondering the gender referred to in it. Google Translate, which I trust only vaguely, goes from "his life" to "her life" on a whim, and I'm not really great with this language in particular, so if anyone has any light to shed, that would be awesome.
Tags: swedish
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June 5 2014, 08:00:38 UTC 8 months ago

Not a native speaker (and it's been a couple of years since I've really used Swedish), but iirc "sin/sitt/sina" don't carry gender in and of themselves as pronouns; rather, they refer back to an earlier pronoun. I don't think it's possible to determine gender from this bit of text alone.


June 5 2014, 20:01:22 UTC 8 months ago Edited:  June 5 2014, 20:22:26 UTC

You are right, the gender defining pronoun is simply missing in the first line "för varje dag som ?...? who? (han = he, hon = she, de/dom = they) vågade sitt liv".
The phrase is not a correct or complete phrase in Swedish without it. My guess is (Hedningarna is/are... not my cup of tea), that it is the pluralis: de/dom.


June 5 2014, 08:26:06 UTC 8 months ago

Native speakers correct me if I'm wrong...
Here's what I think:

"Sitt" is a possessive pronoun that refers back to the subject, and the subject can be female or male. It's basically "his own" or "her own" or "its own".
In your quote the subject's gender should be known from context. If it's not, both "his" and "her" (or "its") are possible, that's why Google translate can't decide.

Here's a copy/paste of the grammar:

There is one more thing to mention about possessive pronouns, and that is the word sin (ett-form sitt). This is used in place of either hans, hennes, or deras if the possessive pronoun is referring directly back to the subject. Sin/sitt can never appear in the subject. Look at these examples (don't worry if you don't know some vocabulary):

We live in his house. ---> Vi bor i hans hus.
Their table is in the house. ---> Deras bord är i huset.
She and her husband speak English. ---> Hon och hennes man talar engelska.


She sees her husband. ---> Hon ser sin man.
He is going to his school. ---> Han går till sin skola.
They live with their child. (ett barn) ---> De bor med sitt barn.

Note the difference:

Hon ser sin man. ---> She sees her (own) husband.
Hon ser hennes man. ---> She sees her (some other woman's) husband.