So it sounds like you use the definite form if you're talking about a specific winter (makes sense, since that's what definite form implies). If you're speaking about winter as more of an abstract concept, like in your example, then you wouldn't need the definite form. Does this sound like a useful guideline?
In this sentance 'Winter is coming' we are talking about "the winter that is coming soon" and not just 'winter' as a concept, so it makes sense to use the definite here.
Would it be correct to say that if we are dicussing winter in more general terms such as ''Winter is a cold season'' or ''I like winter'' (no particular winter, not last year's or the impending one) that it would just be 'vinter'?
It wouldn't be totally wrong to use the indefinite in those cases, but it would still be more idiomatic to use the definite. In English, you tend to prefer the indefinite for abstract concepts, but in Swedish, we don't really have that rule. Rather, our main rule is that the definite is used for known entities ("you know which one I mean"). And even if I say Jag tycker om vintern or Vintern är en kall årstid, you do know which one I mean, since vintern is a known concept to you.
It is not, I'm afraid. :) Wikipedia:
The name Ross allegedly derives from a Gaelic word meaning "headland", perhaps a reference to the Black Isle. Another possible origin is the West Norse word for Orkney – Hrossey – meaning horse island; the area once belonged to the Norwegian (West Norse) earldom of Orkney.
Reply to TwoWholeWorms: Maybe the TV series is called 'world', but mainly it is advertised under it's English name, Game of Thrones. But the books have also the subtitle: "Sagan om is och eld". Probably because 'song' isn't really epic in Swedish, but "Sagan" is, if you look back to early medieval times (Viking Sagas), Sagas were sort of family histories. Even if today, a saga is also a children's tale.
@TwoWholeWorms en sång av is och eld is wrong, it would have to be en sång om is och eld since av doesn't mean "about" in Swedish. ('av' would mean like 'made of')
I think you're right in your guess about the usage of sång – it is used like that in Swedish too (for parts of epic tales, like "the 9th song of the Odyssey"), but out of context it just doesn't carry. But it could have been called that, I think they just thought värld sounded better.
Obviously we just call Game of Thrones Game of Thrones in Swedish since everyone who is old enough to watch the show will probably also understand that expression :)
I feel like I must share this. When this first came up on my tree, first time ever I swear, the Game of Thrones theme started playing! The coincidence was so epic it took me some time to realise it was the TV. x) I wasn't even watching GoT it just followed what I was actually watching and I didn't even know it was on TV tonight. I have to admit, my brain got pretty confused haha
Winter / Vintern is very old, with unknown etymology before its proto- Germanic roots when it already had the same meaning as today's words. Possible relations to white and/or water.
"Vintern" is the definite form of "vinter", so you are correct in that sense. However, English often doesn't use "The" before a proper noun, so it is correct to translate it away. We don't say "The Sweden is coming!" However with a lowercase noun, which is not proper, we do use it: "The country is coming!". Winter is usually a proper noun in English. It is capitalized like it is an entity we named. However, optionally, you could use it as lowercase and say "The winter is coming".