As English and Swedish diverged from the Germanic roots, the English expression, "That is not old!" became the equivalent of the Swedish "Det är ingen ålder!"
This divergence of "age" from "ålder," can be explained, in part, by the influence of French, but also by the English favoring of "old" as the equivalent of "gammal" disappeared:
- Why is it "old" in English and "gammal" in Swedish?
Old Germanic had several words for indicating an aging individual or object: “gamal” and “al∂ra”.
The latter became Old English “ealdor”, which eventually became “old”. And the former was also in Old English as “gamol”, but its use disappeared.
In Old Norse, both words remained for a long time, even into Old Swedish. They had their separate conjugated forms: “gammal-gamlare-gamlast” and “älder-äldre-äldst” (“old-older-oldest”), but they were eventually combined into “gammal-äldre-äldst” as the language evolved.
“al∂ra” remained in Swedish as the noun “ålder” (age), and in “förälder” (parent).
And then you can throw in the use of "elder" in English, which means the same as "older" but is applied only to people, and used in the context of a group. For example, "respect your elders" could be said to a child, referring to the child's parents, aunts and uncles, and grandparents.
"That is no age" is a nonsense translation in English. This expression suggests either that someone has just claimed an age that doesn't exist, or an equally implausible expression about a period of time, like a medieval age, that doesn't exist. It certainly does not mean that a person's particular age is not "old." If this expression is found online, I can imagine it only as a sentence fragment, such as "That is no age [appropriate for that]" or "That is no age [at all]," as suggested by Thor18.
"That is not aged" or "that is not old" might convey the sense that I understand from Swedish-speaker explanations here, except that "ingen" is functioning as an adjective in this sentence. Therefore, if a better translation that fits the Swedish grammar cannot be devised, an English translation that conveys the idiomatic sense might be used. Is the suggestion, "You're not so old!" by jairapetyan, in the second person, too limited? If not, this expression, which is quite common in English, would fit, at least, as a similar idea.
I think this sentence is re-surfacing because the new crowns system caused sentences hidden by Duolingo to appear anew. Regardless of whether the phrase is used (I found a few stand-alone occurrences in books as well), it's really not an important phrase to know in Swedish, and it makes no sense to keep it in the course if it gives learners so much trouble. Especially since so many have never heard the phrase before - effectively making it an idiom. If I were still on the contributors team, I'd have scrapped it for the next tree.
So many people have mentioned the "tree" on these discussion pages. Can you explain what that is? I'm pretty sure you are not talking about something that lives in my yard with a large trunk, branches, bark, leaves, and flowers in the spring. ;)
Everyone seems to know what "the tree" is except me!
The full list of topics with lessons is called the "tree" - because it is long and has branches with lessons, metaphorically speaking.
It's a generally accepted term on Duolingo, so you might see "the Irish tree" or "the new Norwegian tree", and so on.
So when somebody (usually I) says something about a "new tree", it simply means the next version of the course. :)
What has been needed for English speakers is a better English translation ("That is not a lifetime!" "That is not an old age!") and a more detailed understanding of the connotations of the Swedish word "ålder" that conveys the sense of an extended lifetime, including the old-age stage of life:
ålder: age; old age; era; calendar; period; epoch; life span; lifetime
ålder the old age; the age old age [the ~] noun
ålder (livslängd; livstid) the life span; the age; the lifetime life span [the ~] noun lifetime [the ~] noun
age livslängd; livstid; period; tidsräkning; ålder epok; era; tidsålder
life span livslängd; livstid; ålder
lifetime livslängd; livstid; ålder livstid; omfång
old age ålder ålderdom
Now I have a clear understanding of what this Swedish phrase means, thanks to http://www.interglot.com/dictionary/sv/en/translate/%C3%A5lder
Thank you for the great effort, pekarekr! Unfortunately, now I am more confused, lol!
So "ålder" in this sentence means "age" as in epoch, era, time period; it doesn't mean "age" as in "My age is 15 years and 2 months" or "In our state, children start kindergarten at age 5"?
Is that right?
So, if we are talking about someone's age, we should be using the word "gammal," not "ålder"?
Many words have various meanings, and "ålder" can mean "age" as in epoch, era, time period, but also a person's specific age.
Do you know what "connotation" is:
"an idea or feeling that a word invokes in addition to its literal or primary meaning." http://www.dictionary.com/browse/connotation
What clued me in to the meaning of "Det är ingen ålder! " are the possible definitions about old age, the life span, and lifetime. Thinking in terms of a span of life for a person's age helped me to realize that in Swedish what we think of as "age" includes the sense of all the years up to that point and the dynamics of aging. When referring to an older person's age, it also means "old age." So, the English idea of "not old age" can be translated into Swedish as "ingen ålder."
Grammatically, you'd need to add an "en": Det är inte en ålder (It is not an age).
But that would be a strange sentence, something like if you are trying to decipher a code and you would read a name and a number after it, and first assume it is an age but then realize "It is not an age, it is a shoe size". Or something equally contrived.
And even in this strange example, I'd probably express it Det är inte åldern (It is not the age [of the named person]) instead.
I don't know if this is a native expression of swedish. Creatively, I've tried to translate it to : "It is ageless", which I got wrong. In french, I would say : "Ce n'est pas si vieux!", which in english means : "It is not that old". I still can't figure out how to interprete "Det är ingen ålder!" idiomatically....
Thank you devalanteriel. I've re-read the comments, trying to make sense of it. I've also searched the internet ; the closest I got to was the expression : "Det är ingen ålder på en häst". Other researches are pointing me to beleive that the initial expression would mean "There is no age", like, "You're never too old - for something". I've also found the other thread on DL : https://www.duolingo.com/comment/5642421 . I know what I should be looking for, but can't find it. I can only assume that it is an expression, and expressions don't have to make sense (literally). For the moment, I'm just happy to have found a folkloric expression like : "Det är ingen ko på isen" / There is no cow on the ice" / There's no emergency, we still have time. --- Again, Tack så mycket för din tid och tålamod!
It is indeed an expression. But it's also important to realise that det in det är ingen ålder doesn't refer to an object not having or being an age. Instead, it refers to the age itself. So it's like saying
- Jag är femtio år gammal.
- Femtio år är ingen ålder!
That is: "Fifty years? That's no age at all!"
But instead of writing out the expression you're referring to, you just det:
- Jag är femtio år gammal.
- Det är ingen ålder!
Does that make more sense? :)
"Fifty years? That's no age at all!" is still very clunky English, but at least in context, I can infer that it means "That's not old at all!".
By itself, "That is no age!" is just a head-scratcher for me.
The meaning of old age for the noun "age" does exist in English. From the 1971 edition of the Oxford English Dictionary: (these are supposed to be numbered 5, 6, and 7, but the editing system here automatically renumbered them)
- A naturally distinct portion of the existence of man or other being; a period or stage of life.
- esp. The latter part of life, when the physical effects of protracted existence become apparent; old age.
- Hence, the physical effects or qualities themselves; oldness, senility. Of things: maturity.
However, in all of the usage citations under 6. and 7., the surrounding words make it clear they are talking about old age. For example,
1602 W. Shakespeare: Age with his stealing steps Hath caught me in his clutch.
1718 A. Pope: Thus spoke the prudence and fears of age.
1877 L. Morris: The failing ears and eyes, the slower limbs, Whose briefer name is Age.
Perhaps the meaning of old age for "age" requires more contextual support in English than in Swedish, because the word in English carries stronger alternative meanings. For example, again from the OED: (this is supposed to be #3)
- Such duration of life as ordinarily brings body and mind to full development; years of maturity or discretion, or what by law or custom fixed as such.
Hence we have the very common expressions "of age", "coming of age", and "under age". How are these ideas about adulthood expressed in Swedish?
That is a great addition to the discussion, thanks for posting it. :)
Being "of age" is typically myndig in Swedish.
Our word for "underage" is minderårig - "smaller-yeary", so to speak.
There isn't really a good equivalent for "coming of age" in Swedish, though. I'd change it up a lot depending on context and what I wanted to say.
Well. I doesn't make sense in the terms of translation, but it sure makes sense as an expression. It is of these times when I need to get my head around it. Beeing polite, I would not try to reassure my interlocutor that he's not old. Does the sentence : "Det är inte gammalt" has the same meaning? (is it less polite or joyful or any different?).
"That's no age at all" does make sense to me. I recognize it's intended meaning as I might with "That's hardly old." or even "That's barely aged.". Without the "at all" included, I didn't recognize it as a meaningful sentence. I think I'd be far more likely to hear "So young!" and similar.
"That's no age at all" or "that's no age to die" sound okay to me. I'm not sure that I know anyone who'd actually say those sentences, but they don't grate on me. "That's no age" as a standalone sentence grates a little. In all three cases it feels to me that the speaker is deliberately avoiding far more standard and direct expressions of the sentiment (e.g. "That's too young" or "That's not old.") It may be a common expression in some regions but to me it seems more like a conspicuous effort to use a more poetic/literate/indirect expression.
It has a slightly old-fashioned feel about it - but I don't really recognise it as an expression, old-fashioned or new. Actually I guess it sounds a bit like something that an old-money toff might say to one of his fellows over a glass of brandy. "Why really, my old boy, that's no age!" It fits comfortably into that sentence for me. But of course, it might be common in some localities regardless of class or pretense.
It doesn't translate to American English. We just don't ever phrase it that way. We'd say, "That's not old!"
"That's no age" is not something you would hear here.
Now, if an Irish person said it, we'd probably figure it out, if not too mesmerized by the lovely accent to comprehend meaning. ;)
Neither makes sense in English. This phrase is a Swedish idiom. You just have to learn that this is what Swedes say. They use it as a response to someone telling their age, for example. It means, "You're not so old."
In English, we would probably say, "That's not old!" or "You're still a spring chicken!" or "You're younger than me!" DuoLingo doesn't seem to know that we would never say, "That is no age" or "It is no age." We wouldn't even know what either of those statements means.
Jean, I think you realize that the phrase suggested as the translation here can be used in the sense of "That is no age to die!" However, you also seem to be saying that "That is no age!" is not an adequate translation for this Swedish expression, and in this concern I fully agree. Also, it might help for Swedish-speakers to know that the online matches are not the same as this lesson. The isolated expression, "That is no age!" and the internet hits, "That is no age to die!" fail to meet the need in English to say "old age" in order to convey the full sense of "ålder," at least as it applies to this particular lesson. When "ålder" simply refers to a person's age, then "old age" is not necessary and "age" as a translation for "ålder" suffices.
Pekarekr - The exercise didn't say, "That is no age to die!" All it said was, "It is no age." No context. No conversation. No longer sentence. So it doesn't work. If you translate a phrase from Swedish to English and the ENGLISH sentence is meaningless to multiple native English speakers, then your translation is bad.
This one was not just awkward in English, it was nonsensical.
I understand one can find the words "it's no age" or "it is no age" on the internet, in that order. That doesn't prove that it's a common, well-known phrase among native English speakers. (I think you said this on one of your earlier posts.) You can also find a lot of obscure, idiotic, bizarre pieces of writing on the internet, many of them lacking proper grammar, spelling, or context. If people from Australia, the U.K., and the U.S. all say, "I have no idea what this English translation means," it might be a good idea to believe them. If you explain the phrase by saying it in multiple different ways in English and giving all kinds of hypothetical context, and the native English speakers say, "Now I understand what the Swedish phrase means, but the English translation is a sentence I've never heard anyone say in my entire life," that should be another clue that it's not a phrase in common usage. Instead, we get lectured as if we are complete morons.
If it's a common phrase, most people should have at least heard it once in their lifetime. If most people can't even figure out what it's supposed to mean, it's not a common phrase.
This is a dumb sentence and a bad translation and it needs to be deleted. As for the people defending it so relentlessly on this thread: A simple thank-you for the valuable feedback would suffice.
Swedish-speakers at Duolingo think that an internet hit for "that is no age" (but found primarily with the idea "That is no age to die!" rather than "That is not old!") justifies this "broken" translation for this lesson. It must be very difficult for Swedes to understand that English-speakers don't have this connotation for just the word "age," especially in the expression they propose as "That is no age!"
English-speakers would never translate this Swedish idea of someone responding to someone who feels old at a particular age in this way because we use "aged" or "old" not "age." For example, look how an English-speaker would express that Swedish concept of "ålder" in "Femtio år är ingen ålder!" English-speakers would need to say, "Fifty is not old!" not "Fifty is no age!" "Fifty is no age!" would be a nonsense translation, but "Fifty is not old!" does convey the sense intended in Swedish.
"That is not aged!" is awkward, but at least understandable because the adjective conveys the sense of the Swedish noun. But the typical response would be "That [age of 50] is not old!" The Swedish expression "Det are ingen ålder!" translates best into English as "That is not old!" See my other response about the history of the English language relating to the Swedish word, "gammal" for further explanation.
I was responding to your logic that if the translation is good, then it should not be deleted. To the contrary, I think this discussion is excellent because of the nuances in Swedish that it is conveying. This is an excellent lesson! English-speakers really need to understand how much meaning you pack into the word "ålder." Because of the difficulty in mutual understanding, this discussion is essential.
I understand that more than one of you thinks that the phenomenal number of google hits to "That's no age!" warrants this translation because ordinarily a contraction of that-is is equivalent to the use of both words. When you try to get a hit for the separate words in this presumed English translation, you get only 3 hits, only one of which is comparable to the contraction because the other two separate that-is and no-age by a comma. In this search, the English difficulty is more evident. The expression "That's no age to die!" might be common, but applying this combination of words as a translation in this lesson does not work because English-speakers simply do not understand the connotations of your Swedish expression with the current translation.
You said it doesn't make sense yet it clearly made sense to the ones who wrote and published it in English written works. You said "we would never say", yet clearly some of us have. So, I guess my point you asked about was that your assertion seems to be incorrect.
but, I agree with you that "you just have to learn" it.
I propose this alternate translation be accepted: "Though you are not clean past your youth, you have yet some relish of the saltiness of time."
Sorry, I didn't know DuoLingo was teaching us to translate from spoken Swedish into obscure English literature from a previous century. When native English speakers have no idea what is meant by the English translation of a Swedish phrase, the translation is useless. Yes, we can all understand what is meant by odd phraseology when we have context clues. The problem is, this sentence by itself does not convey any meaning to a lot of native English speakers. That means we don't know what the Swedish phrase means either. That means this exercise has failed in its main purpose, which is to teach the meaning of the Swedish phrase.
When I stated "we would never say," I meant that this is not a phrase that I, as an American, have ever heard or would ever use, nor have I heard it in my 55 years on this planet. The fact that you found it in a couple of pieces of English literature on the internet is irrelevant. I didn't mean, "Nobody has ever said this, ever, in any conversation or piece of literature in the entire world since the beginning of time." Sheesh. It was a generalization, and a valid one.
And once again you come across as pompous and condescending.
Jean, disregarding the other aspects of your conversation with thorr18, I'd like to point out that the phrase is in active use in modern English, even if not where you live. In the other thread, I gave examples from present-day newspapers, current comedians, and pop literature from this century.
I completely agree that this sentence is a bad fit for the tree, given how many users struggle with it - there's simply no point in keeping something that is obviously problematic, especially for people who cannot access discussion threads. But surely you must agree that with how large English is throughout the world, any native speaker will occasionally encounter phrases that are completely foreign to them yet perfectly natural to others?
(Edit: Since mine is the only response, I'd just like to say that I did not downvote you.)
If the purpose of the Engish translation is to convey to the student the meaning of the swedish phrase then this English phrase is an extraordinarily poor choice. I was was simply puzzled and left with no idea what the original meant. The subsequent discussion and some of the suggestions cleared that up. It turned out to have a very clear translation understandable to everyone. Why not use the helpful suggestions you were given?
The best solution by far would be to delete this sentence, but Duolingo has a bug where deleted sentences still show up - only they cannot be altered at all. So it's better to keep it at the moment and simply not include it in the next version of the course (whenever that's coming).
While the other suggestions are certainly good, idiomatic English, all of them correspond to other Swedish phrases, thus screwing up the reverse translation exercise. At the moment, it's really a loss-loss thing - whatever we do about the sentence is a bad solution.
Actually, there is a translation much closer to the Swedish grammar:
"That is not old age."
English speakers could understand this translation, expecially when thinking of old-age in a hyphenated sense, as a translation of just "ålder" when used in the sentence of this lesson, without complicating the reverse translation with gammalt. "That is no age!" does not work at all as a default translation, so I hope you will change it to "That is not old age." Some English speakers might prefer "That is not old!" but my suggestion would be much easier to defend than "That is no age!"
Thank you - that's actually a pretty good suggestion. And I'm sorry, I didn't see before that you suggested it above already.
I'm about to head to bed but I'll try to refactor this sentence a little tomorrow, hopefully without screwing anything up in the process...
@Arnauti, please identify for us which of the above explanations are the correct interpretation of the Swedish sentence. annika_a and PennLesley have one idea, but NogoBogo and rwhodges have something quite different in mind.
Let alone whether native English speakers have heard "That is no age!" I think most of us can't be sure what is meant by it without any context.
I would favor the experiences of native English speakers over the existence of a phrase on the internet. A native English speaker has presumably been exposed to English idioms from many continents, and usually would have at least heard an expression if it was at all common. We don't hear and read English that is in use only in our little corner of the world.
On the other hand, you can find almost anything on the internet, even if it's a phrase in English that only 25 people in the entire world have ever used. Also, you can find phrases on the internet that have been used only by writers seeking to say something in an original way, or trying to stay true to a very colloquial vocabulary, and not representing the spoken language or commonly used written language very accurately.
I know it's not easy to tell what is just ignorance on the part of English speakers, and what is truly a bizarre translation that cannot be understood in English, especially since the only people commenting are those that had trouble with the translation. However, I see this come up a lot, where it appears that the final answer is, "I got lots of hits on the internet." (I didn't see that on this thread, but on some others. I might have misunderstood the intent, but it has come across that way quite a few times.)
This sentence would be a great candidate for a section of idioms. Anything that really does not make sense when translated to another language could be put in this category. I know it probably wouldn't happen, but I would love it. The translation could be two-fold: a translation of the meaning of the words (in this case, "That is no age!") and a translation of the meaning of the phrase (in this case, "You are not old!"). That would allow us to learn the idiom and not try to understand it as it appears on the surface. We might even be able to use the phrase in a given situation in the future. This is the kind of thing I want to learn, along with more straightforward vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar.
I don't necessarily disagree with the rest of what you say, but I've found this exact phrase with this exact meaning from people such as Jordan Belfort and Dara Ó Briain. I also found it in established, well-known newspapers. It's not like we look for 25 random bloggers when we use searching as a source for validity claims - and though it does not concern this phrase specifically, most of the time when we use Google results as an argument, it's because we get literally tens of thousands of results for a phrase a native claims is "never" used.
From what I've gathered before about this specific phrase, it's that it is in use in the English-speaking world - but that use is obviously restricted to a set number of native speakers. Ireland appears to use it heavily, and the rest of the world only sporadically. But however bizarre you find the phrase, and regardless of whether it's a good fit for the course (it's not), please don't think we just translated it literally and hoped for the best.