rahaa ~ rahan ~ rahat

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Rob A.
Posts: 3964
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 1:51 am

Re: rahaa ~ rahan ~ rahat

Post by Rob A. » Mon Jul 21, 2014 8:53 pm

ml14 wrote:A Finnish speaker once told me that she would translate the sentence

Pöydällä näin rahaa ja auton avaimet. Otin hätäisenä rahat mutta unohdin avaimet.
as
"On the table, I saw some money and the keys to the car. In a hurry, I grabbed the money but forgot the keys."

But if rahat were replaced with rahan, she said that she would translate the second sentence as

"In a hurry, I grabbed a bill/coin but forgot the keys."

[NB -- the Finnish sentences are my paraphrases, so they may contain some mistakes, but I'm mainly interested in the highlighted parts]

Do you agree about this interpretation of rahaa : rahan : rahat, at least in the spoken language?

Thanks
I tried to find a link to an academic paper on this but couldn't find anything.

For what it's worth, intuitively I could see that, rahan, in this context would be too specific. "Money" in English is almost always an uncountable noun and so would not take a plural ending and would mean, in context, all of the money in question, but in Finnish, raha, is a countable noun, and so using the plural form rahat would mean all the money on the table, while rahan would mean only a "unit" of it.

[Aside: I should add that, in English, the word, "money" can sometimes be countable and take a plural form, "monies", but this usage tends to be kind of formal and business-like, and specific to certain contexts.]

I think this is an example of why, as Alden often says, that it is better to learn languages in "bite-sized chunks", rather than by slavishly trying to apply rules of grammar. Countable and uncountable nouns are always a tough area....how, except through memory would a person know that what may be a countable noun in their language, is uncountable in some other language.

An example...English and French share the word, "information", yet in English it is always uncountable, and in French, the word can be countable and uncountable, depending on context. So the word can be a bit of a shibboleth.... A native French speaker, speaking English, even one with average English skills, will often use the word, "informations", something a native English speaker would never do.



Re: rahaa ~ rahan ~ rahat

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Sami-Is-Boss
Posts: 118
Joined: Mon Jan 16, 2012 8:21 pm

Re: rahaa ~ rahan ~ rahat

Post by Sami-Is-Boss » Tue Jul 22, 2014 11:56 am

This thread has reminded me of an old Simpsons joke which nicely illustrates the non-countability of 'money' in English:



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