Norwegian: position of "meg"


Senior Member
Hei alle sammen!

I was checking the meaning of "fremmed" (unknown, alien) in my hardback dictionary, and a couple of expressions it gives are:

"det er fremmed for meg": I know nothing about it.
"det er meg fremmed": it is alien to my nature.

Now, unfortunately, there is no context as such, but till now I hadn't seen sentences with "meg" not being a direct object of a verb and yet not preceded by a preposition, as in the sentence "det er meg fremmed". How to parse this syntax? It is equivalent to "det er fremmed til meg"? Till now, in Norwegian, I only knew sentences such as either "Du liker meg" (so "meg" acting as direct object of "liker") or "det er sant for meg" ("meg" preceded with a preposition).

Thanks in advance for all answers!
  • Svenke

    Senior Member
    (være) noen fremmed is a fairly old-fashioned expression. The noen part (in your second example: meg) is subordinate to the adjective fremmed.

    If I say that "det er meg fremmed", I mean to say that I would never have suggested it or done it; I have a rather negative attitude towards it.

    The more common use of fremmed is as in your first example, which means that I am unfamiliar with it, don't know anything about it, and this isn't necessarily related to a negative attitude.


    Senior Member
    ^ Thanks a lot, @Svenke ! So, would it raise eyebrows to use the "noen fremmed" type of sentence (unless one were writing in a high-brow register)? Could one use it in while speaking in today's Norwegian?

    Also, I still don't understand how the syntax works for the "noen fremmed" part: I mean grammatically. It seems like an English "far from me", but there is no "from" and the "me" is preceding "far". Is "fremmed" an adverb here, maybe, instead of an adjective?


    Senior Member
    You only use "det er meg fremmed" in specific contexts. It would sound stilted if you tried to use it in everyday language.

    I can't really explain the grammar, but I think you -- as a starting point -- can regard "det er fremmed for meg"/"det er meg fremmed" as two alternative ways to express the same thing. The first one is the standard word order in Norwegian, and I believe the second one is used in German: "das ist mir unbekannt". I suppose both could be translated as "it is unknown to me". However, as Svenke explained, the "German" construction is only used with a specific meaning in Norwegian; different from the meaning with the standard syntax.

    The "German" syntax generally looks old-fashioned in Norwegian, and it is only used in a few set phrases. Some of these include a noun instead of an adjective, such as "det er meg en ære" (instead of the standard "det er en ære for meg").


    Senior Member
    The occurrence of "meg" in this context is the indirect object which commonly expresses a receiver/beneficiary/experiencer. Since the indirect object "meg" is identical to the direct object "meg" in the modern language, the former is often expressed with a preposition til (and maybe for?) but this is not always possible and it's not clear to me what governs it. The following ditransitive verbs (verbs with both direct and indirect objects) are expressing receivers or beneficiaries (I have used * to mark sentences that I find more or less ungrammatical):

    1a) Han sendte meg et brev.
    1b) Han sendte et brev til meg.
    2a) Han ga meg pengene.
    2b) Han ga pengene til meg.
    2c) Gi meg en sjanse!
    2d) *Gi en sjanse til meg!
    2e) Hun ga meg lov.
    2f) *Hun ga lov til meg.
    3a) Hun lovet meg en ring.
    3b) *Hun lovet en ring til meg.
    4a) De lærte meg ryddighet og presisjon.
    4b) *De lærte ryddighet og presisjon til meg.
    5a) De nektet meg hjelp.
    5b) *De nektet hjelp til meg.

    When the indirect object expresses an experiencer, we are mostly left with fossilised expressions (some of them a bit dated), and often with specialised meanings. Here are some more examples (there are many more):

    Det er meg ukjent.
    Det er meg en gåte.
    Det skal bli meg en sann glede.
    Du er meg en fin en.
    Han kom meg for nær.
    Hun kom meg i forkjøpet.
    Det falt meg ikke inn.

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    The word order "det er meg fremmed" looks like an ordinary order of words in languages that have retained the dative case. In Norwegian all "dependent" cases merged into one "meg" for the first person singular personal pronoun. The rest of the dative case has been retained in a few fossilized expressions like "til bords" (to [the] table).