https://www.duolingo.com/Varkatzas

Det går ikke an

What purpose does "an" serve in this phrase?

3 years ago

13 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Deliciae
Deliciae
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It's a bit of a mystery, isn't it? "an" is classified as an adverb in Norwegian, but is actually a German preposition, meaning "on/at/to"which functions as a verb particle in a few set verb phrases adopted from Low German.

It also has an Old Norse counterpart, "á", so it's possible that some of the verb phrases are of Old Norse origin, but I'm not not knowledgeable enough about either of the languages to clarify that.

"å gå an"
"å se an"
"å slå an"
"å legge an på"
"å komme an på"

It's often possible to say "Det går ikke an." without the "an" and still be understood. However, it's traditionally a part of the expression, and it sounds better with the "an". For the other expressions omitting the "an" changes the meaning quite drastically.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Varkatzas

German has those verbs that have sepparable prefixes. "Ankommen", when conjugated, becomes "ich komme an". Do you think this is the "an" in question?

Also, could you translate the verbs you listed?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Deliciae
Deliciae
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I don't speak German, so your guess is as good as mine. The above verbs do exist with an- as a prefix as well, but that also changes the meaning:

å gå = to walk
å gå an = to be possible
å angå = to concern (as in relate to)

å se = to see
å se an = to create an impression of (something or someone before making a decision), to wait (before making a decision or passing judgement)
å anse = to deem, to consider, to regard as

å slå = to hit
å slå an = to be a hit, be popular
å anslå = to estimate

å legge = to lay
å legge på = to add, to exaggerate, to end a call
å legge an på = to hit on (flirt with)
å anlegge = to found, establish, build

å komme = to come
å komme på = to remember
å komme an på = to depend on (as in be contingent on)
å ankomme = to arrive

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Tattamin
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This is amazing. Just to elaborate - there are German equivalents for almost every one of these verb constructs.

å gå = to walk = gehen
å gå an = to be possible = angehen (Es geht nicht an = it is impossible)
å angå = to concern (as in relate to) = angehen (Es geht dich nichts an = it does not concern you)

å se = to see = sehen
å se an = to create an impression of (something or someone before making a decision), to wait (before making a decision or passing judgement) = (etwas) ansehen (= take a close look at something)
å anse = to deem, to consider, to regard as = (etwas/jemanden) ansehen als

å slå = to hit = schlagen
å slå an = to be a hit, be popular = einschlagen
å anslå = to estimate = (ver)anschlagen

å legge = to lay = legen
å legge på = to add, to exaggerate, to end a call = auflegen (call-ending only)
å legge an på = to hit on (flirt with) =/= anlegen auf (aim at)
å anlegge = to found, establish, build = anlegen (invest, establish)

å komme = to come = kommen
å komme på = to remember
å komme an på = to depend on (as in be contingent on) = ankommen auf
å ankomme = to arrive = ankommen

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Deliciae
Deliciae
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How fascinating, thank you!

PS: I'm considering this my first Duolingo German lesson. ;)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/passchi
passchi
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It could easily become your first Dutch lesson .... a nearly identical list can be made for my mother tongue....

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Deliciae
Deliciae
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Hehe, finally my polyglot dreams will come true!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Monika462979
Monika462979
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It is the same construction in Swedish.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Semeltin
Semeltin
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also:
på = auf
å komme på noe = to remember sth = auf etwas kommen

11 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ArinVeland
ArinVeland
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While "det går ikke" is used in the same way as "it does not work", "det går ikke an" rather translates to "it is impossible". So it is really just a matter of idioms.

Bonus fact: While speaking, many Norwegians make contractions out of sentences like these and say, "det gåkke an", although you should never write it that way.

3 years ago
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