Norwegian: for de ser han ikke

dukaine

Senior Member
English - American
De som ikke tror på Gud, kan ikke ta imot ham, for de ser han ikke og kjenner han heller ikke.

I read the last phrase as "because they don't see him and they don't know him, either." But then "han" would be "ham", right, so I must be reading it incorrectly. Why "han" and not "ham"?
 
  • winenous

    Senior Member
    English - British
    It is explained here: Spørsmål og svar

    My brief summary in English would be that, originally in Norwegian, "ham" was the dative form of the pronoun, and "han" was both the nominitive (subject) and accusative (direct object) form. More recently "ham" also came to be used occasionally for the accusative, but "han" is still correct.

    I don't know how the dative case is used in Norwegian, as it rarely makes any difference, but presumably it is used after certain prepositions. So in your sentence, I would guess that "ham" is dative because it follows "imot", and in that context "han" would be wrong. And it is correct to use "han" later on because there an accusative pronoun is required, but "ham" would be OK too. (Following comments later in this thread, I no longer presume this)

    Hope that makes sense, but it is difficult to explain without using grammatical terms. Anyway, you were reading the sentence correctly.
     
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    dukaine

    Senior Member
    English - American
    Hope that makes sense, but it is difficult to explain without using grammatical terms. Anyway, you were reading the sentence correctly.
    Totally makes sense. I'm studying German also, so I'm familiar with the terms and usages. Plus, I'm a bit of a grammar nerd myself. Thanks so much!
     

    serbianfan

    Senior Member
    British English
    The sentence is not very well written. Although all kinds of variants are allowed in Norwegian, you should be consistent in the same sentence (and preferably in the same text). So it should be either 'han' or 'ham' all three times in the sentence, most people would say. Many Norwegians would say that 'han' as object is colloquial and shouldn't be used in writing, maybe especially about subjects like religion. Other Norwegians would say 'Jeg så han i går' is what I say when I talk, so I think it's ok to use it in writing...
     

    winenous

    Senior Member
    English - British
    The sentence is not very well written. Although all kinds of variants are allowed in Norwegian, you should be consistent in the same sentence (and preferably in the same text). So it should be either 'han' or 'ham' all three times in the sentence, most people would say. Many Norwegians would say that 'han' as object is colloquial and shouldn't be used in writing, maybe especially about subjects like religion. Other Norwegians would say 'Jeg så han i går' is what I say when I talk, so I think it's ok to use it in writing...
    I can't comment on how MOST Norwegians see that use of "han" - all I know is that the sample of one I have just checked does agree with you.

    However, do you realise that the sentence is from a Norwegian translation of the bible?
    Johannes 14:16-19 LB - Jeg skal be min Far i himmelen om å - Bible Gateway
    So it seems that the translator thought it was good Norwegian, as do Språkrådet - see the link I gave above. Though I still have a question mark over both "ham" and "han" being used as object forms in the same sentence.
     
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    Svenke

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    My brief summary in English would be that, originally in Norwegian, "ham" was the dative form of the pronoun, and "han" was both the nominitive (subject) and accusative (direct object) form. More recently "ham" also came to be used occasionally for the accusative, but "han" is still correct.

    I don't know how the dative case is used in Norwegian, as it rarely makes any difference, but presumably it is used after certain prepositions. So in your sentence, I would guess that "ham" is dative because it follows "imot", and in that context "han" would be wrong. And it is correct to use "han" later on because there an accusative pronoun is required, but "ham" would be OK too.

    This is not quite correct.

    Except in some dialects, Norwegian does not distinguish between an accusative and a dative any longer. Some pronouns distinguish between a nominative for the subject (and occasionally for subject predicatives) and an accusative/dative for everything else. These forms are usually called the subject form and the object form.

    In the case of han and ham, han is the only subject (nominative) form. The object form in Bokmål is either han or ham. The latter is more conservative. As stated in another post, one should use either han or ham consistently for the object form in a given text. It doesn't matter if it's a direct object, indirect object or after a preposition.

    For instance: Han ser ham ikke or Han ser han ikke. Both are equally correct Bokmål.

    Both of these are correct:

    De som ikke tror på Gud, kan ikke ta imot ham, for de ser ham ikke og kjenner ham heller ikke.
    De som ikke tror på Gud, kan ikke ta imot han, for de ser han ikke og kjenner han heller ikke.


    The text that dukaine quoted has no errors on the word level, but is inconsistent on the text level.

    In Nynorsk, there is a parallel situation for the pronouns ho and henne. Ho is the only subject form, while the object form can be ho or henne.
     
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    serbianfan

    Senior Member
    British English
    That Bible translation is presumably used much less than the one which says "sannhetens Ånd, som verden ikke kan få, for den ser ham ikke og kjenner ham ikke" because there are far more Google hits for the latter (where the sentence is different as you see). Anyway, my point is that I suppose "most Norwegians" (and maybe Språkrådet) would say that it's not good to put alternative forms in the same sentence (or text). The fact that han and ham are "likestilt" as object doesn't mean that it's good to write a text where you use han ten times and ham ten times as object. Or to write a book review where you use boka ten times and boken ten times. But the Norwegian language has been so messed up that maybe there are plenty of people (even in Språkrådet?) who would say it doesn't matter...
     

    winenous

    Senior Member
    English - British
    I'd finally just like to add that I would not argue about "ham" being a conservative form. Språkrådet says "han" was an old form, but that goes a long way back - before the Dano-Norwegian that is now regarded as conservative.
     

    serbianfan

    Senior Member
    British English
    Well, if anyone's deeply interested in why the translator wrote both ham and han in the same sentence, they could do a search in other chapters of the Bible. I suspect it's just a careless mistake, and that you won't find lots of other examples of using both words as object. If you do, presumably the translator didn't think it mattered (his idea of "likestilling").
     

    Svenke

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    However, do you realise that the sentence is from a Norwegian translation of the bible?
    Johannes 14:16-19 LB - Jeg skal be min Far i himmelen om å - Bible Gateway
    So it seems that the translator thought it was good Norwegian, as do Språkrådet - see the link I gave above.

    No, Språkrådet does not. They appear to, but they don't intend to.

    On the page that you link to, they do write: "Egentlig er det formen ham som er gal i akkusativ. " By "egentlig", they mean 'historically', not in modern Norwegian Bokmål. The old dative forms have taken over the functions of the old accusatives in addition to the old dative functions. In effect, the cases have then merged into one. No pronoun in Bokmål (or Nynorsk) has separate accusative and dative forms. When they refer to the accusative and the dative, they mean those contexts where the accusative and the dative were used earlier. Trying to distinguish between "accusative" and "dative" by using different pronoun forms in modern Bokmål is simply incorrect language use. So, yes, the Bible translation is in error, and the illustrated usage has never been correct Bokmål. Nor would parallel usage be correct in Nynorsk, Danish, or Swedish. (Some dialects are exceptions.)
     

    winenous

    Senior Member
    English - British
    No, Språkrådet does not. They appear to, but they don't intend to.
    I am pretty sure I understand that article, and I also accept everything you have said and do not see any conflicts with the article, so I think there is a misunderstanding somewhere.

    In my first post of this thread there was a paragraph where I used the word "presumably". Here, I accept that I presumed incorrectly, and that the biblical sentence should have used "ham" or "han" consistently. I am going to edit that post to strike-through the presumptuous text, and clarify my second post in an edit.
     

    raumar

    Senior Member
    Norwegian
    If there is a misunderstanding, this may be the cause: Språkrådet writes:
    I bokmål har en nemlig alltid kunnet skille mellom han og ham. Men alt i 1917 ble det tillatt å skrive han istedenfor ham. Likestilte ble han og ham i 1938.
    This means that before 1917, "ham" was the only accepted object form in Norwegian Bokmål. That is why we regard "ham" as more conservative - meaning closer to Danish. Språkrådet then goes on to explain that the use of "han" as an object form has roots in Old Norse. That is an interesting historical fact, but not very relevant for how we speak and write Norwegian today.

    I checked the online Norwegian versions of the Bible, published by Bibelselskapet. I am no expert on this, but I think their version is the most "official" Norwegian translation. Bibelselskapet gives us three different Bokmål translations, from 1930, 1978/85 and 2011, see:
    Nettbibelen

    Here are their three translations of Johannes 14:17. All of them uses "ham" consistently as the object form. The version that Serbianfan quotes in post #7 is the one from 1930.

    2011
    sannhetens Ånd, som verden ikke kan ta imot. For verden ser ham ikke og kjenner ham ikke. Men dere kjenner ham, for han blir hos dere og skal være i dere.
    1978/85
    sannhetens Ånd. Verden kan ikke ta imot ham, for verden ser ham ikke og kjenner ham ikke. Men dere kjenner ham; han blir hos dere og skal være i dere.
    1930
    sannhetens Ånd, som verden ikke kan få, for den ser ham ikke og kjenner ham ikke; I kjenner ham, for han blir hos eder og skal være i eder.
     
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