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A quick look needed from native speakers (a single phrase). - UniLang

A quick look needed from native speakers (a single phrase).

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Ast A. Moore
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A quick look needed from native speakers (a single phrase).

Postby Ast A. Moore » 2012-01-12, 23:45

Hi,

I would be very much obliged if a native Danish speaker took a look at this phrase and told me if it is grammatically correct.

Det er du på hvad?

The meaning of the phrase (in the context I saw it) is more like Hvad mener du? or Hvad taler du om? or, even more loosely, “And by that you mean what?”

So, could this phrase be spoken/written in any (most likely very colloquial) context, or does it sound completely unnatural?

Thanks in advance.

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Re: A quick look needed from native speakers (a single phrase).

Postby Arcane » 2012-01-14, 20:53

Not a native speaker, but this construction sounds unnatural on its own.
In the beginning I'd tell you this phrase is grammatically incorrect, but now I can think of a situation where one might use it.

Let's say you show a picture of yourself to a friend and you tell him the story behind the picture: "Τhis is me as a kid, having a summer vacation on Bornholm". But your friend couldn't hear well the object following the preposition and hence asks you:

A: Det er du på hvad?
B: På Bornholm!

This is the only situation in which I could imagine using your phrase. You can't use it as a replacement for "hvad mener du" and "hvad taler du om" unless we're talking about some dialect (I've been studying standard Danish and have been mainly exposed to people from the Copenhagen, Aarhus and Aalborg areas). A Dane might say: "og med det mener du hvad?". Another phrase with the words from your phrase could be "hvad er du på (udkig efter)". But this has a completely different meaning.

I'm sure a native speaker could help you further with that: )

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Re: A quick look needed from native speakers (a single phrase).

Postby Ast A. Moore » 2012-01-14, 21:16

Thanks very much, Arcane! Your explanation pretty much sums up my thoughts.

I’d still would love to hear input from a natives speaker.
(Oh, Arcane, since you’re in Denmark now, could you perhaps ask around and tell me what the Danes think about this phrase?)

Thanks again.

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Re: A quick look needed from native speakers (a single phrase).

Postby Arcane » 2012-01-14, 21:28

You're very welcome. Maybe you can elaborate on the context of the phrase. Did you hear it in an informal conversation?

Btw, I'm in Germany at the moment and don't have any Danes around. Otherwise I would have directly asked :wink: I'm curious to hear more from a native speaker as well.

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Re: A quick look needed from native speakers (a single phrase).

Postby Ast A. Moore » 2012-01-14, 21:56

Arcane wrote:Maybe you can elaborate on the context of the phrase. Did you hear it in an informal conversation?

It’s a little more complicated. The phrase was a reply to a forum post. The forum is in Russian, and someone replied Det er du på hvad?—in Danish—to another post (in Russian). In the context, the meaning could only have been “What do you mean (by that)?” or even just “Huh?”

To me, the phrase Det er du på hvad? sounded too much like a calque of the Russian phrase Это ты о чем?, so I expressed my doubt about the grammatical correctness of the phrase and offered two alternatives (Hvad mener du? and Hvad taler du om?). The person assured me that his phrase was correct.

My knowledge of Danish is superficial at best (based on my knowledge of English, Swedish, and the general grammar of Germanic languages), so I couldn’t really argue my point. Instead, I turned to the Unilang community for help.

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Re: A quick look needed from native speakers (a single phrase).

Postby Arcane » 2012-01-14, 22:10

I think that gives a good picture of where the phrase originated from. I guess that user really came up with a literal translation.

My very first reaction was to label it as incorrect, but I'm open to any alternative explanations :)

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Re: A quick look needed from native speakers (a single phrase).

Postby Ast A. Moore » 2012-01-14, 22:26

Arcane wrote:I think that gives a good picture of where the phrase originated from. I guess that user really came up with a literal translation.

Absolutely, but there’s a caveat. I’d understand if the person used English—people throughout the world often use English (or what they think is English) for short phrases like that. But Danish? Since I’m interested in Scandinavian languages, I wanted to get to the bottom of this.

(The Danish board on Unilang seems a little dormant.)

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Re: A quick look needed from native speakers (a single phrase).

Postby Arcane » 2012-01-17, 1:46

Maybe you analyze too much :wink:. This guy might have just used Google translate to appear knowledgeable or something. If that was a language forum this might have easily been the case (we've seen enough of it here on Unilang). I share your passion for Northern Germanic langs (started out with østlandsk bokmål some time ago), but this phrase doesn't make much sense in Norwegian as well.

The forum is a bit dormant indeed, but have patience. Maybe Brikken will appear in a day or two :)

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Re: A quick look needed from native speakers (a single phrase).

Postby Ast A. Moore » 2012-01-17, 11:18

Arcane wrote:This guy might have just used Google translate to appear knowledgeable or something.

Good point. It somehow never occurred to me to use Google Translate to check. Let’s see . . . Hm, interesting. Google Translate renders Это ты о чем? as Er det du taler om?, which makes even less sense. However, Ты это о чем? comes out as Hvad mener du?

I forgot to mention this earlier, but while the person assured me that Det er du på hvad? was correct, he agreed that my variants (Hvad mener du? and Hvad taler du om?) were also correct, albeit a bit more “straightforward.”

The forum is a bit dormant indeed, but have patience. Maybe Brikken will appear in a day or two :)

Thanks. That would be great.

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Re: A quick look needed from native speakers (a single phrase).

Postby rosawhite » 2012-04-18, 20:15

looks like russian mixed with danish or?

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Re: A quick look needed from native speakers (a single phrase).

Postby frederikhoejgaard » 2012-07-10, 23:32

Hi,
I know this thread was started 4 years ago but maybe you'd still like to get this question properly answered. As a native Danish speaker I can help you with that.

"Det er du på hvad?" is incorrect and doesn't really make any sense.
There are several options as to what the person could have meant. As you suggested it could be a direct translation of Russian. This I think is highly plausible.
It could also be that the person meant "Hvad er du på?" meaning "What are you on/what have you taken (of drugs)?. In this case "du" should be stressed. That's a common expression in Danish which is used when one person think another person is acting strangely / saying something strange.
"Det er du på hvad?" could only make remotely sense if typed like this: "Det er du på, hva'/hvad?" in which case it would mean "THAT is what you're on, isn't it?" depending on the context. This is, however, highly colloquial and doesn't seem to make much sense in the context you're speaking of.
Another possible interpretation is "You'd like to do that, huh? / You'd like to do that, wouldn't you?" - again depending on the context. Lastly, if it appeared in a context where two people were discussing two or more options it could mean "That is what you choose?"
It certainly can't mean "What do you mean?"

I hope this helped :)

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Re: A quick look needed from native speakers (a single phrase).

Postby hashi » 2012-07-11, 1:26

frederikhoejgaard wrote:Hi,
I know this thread was started 4 years ago but maybe you'd still like to get this question properly answered. As a native Danish speaker I can help you with that.


Hvad er du på?! The thread was started 6 months ago.

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Re: A quick look needed from native speakers (a single phrase).

Postby Ast A. Moore » 2012-07-11, 4:39

Thanks! So are my variants (Hvad mener du? and Hvad taler du om?) correct then?


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