A Definite Article Shocker

<p>
In my neighborhood last week, I auspiciously came across a new Swedish cafe, Fika, pictured here. At least I think it's Swedish; I guess it could be pretend Swedish.&nbsp;<em>Att fika</em> in Swedish means "to have coffee."</p>
<p>
<img alt="Fika for Coffee, on the Upper West Side" src="/assets/images/uploads/Fika_UWS.JPG" style="width: 900px; height: 675px;" /></p>
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Fika for Coffee, on the Upper West Side</p>
<p>
It's cool and all, but unfortunately I don't think I will encounter many Swedes at Fika, so instead of going there, I will continue to hang out with my books and audio lessons.</p>
<p>
After about 11 weeks of Swedish, making slow but somewhat steady progress, I am still dazzled by a linguistic feature I do not recall ever encountering in another language: the definite article is tacked on to the end of the attending noun. (The indefinite article is in the expected place, before the noun and as a separate word. But the definite is definitely a rebel!)</p>
<p>
For example, in Swedish "dog" is&nbsp;<em>hund </em>and "the dog" is&nbsp;<em>hunden</em>, which as far as I can see is like writing <em>dogthe</em>. "Cat" translates as <em>katt</em>, and "the cat" you write as&nbsp;<em>katten</em>. Which in English seems sort of like writing <em>catthe!</em></p>
<p>
There are two genders in Swedish, one called common and the other neuter, and cats and dogs are both common gender. You can see that they are common in the<em> -en</em> ending used for the definite article. The majority of Swedish nouns are of common gender, so you see a lot of <em>-n</em> endings floating around.</p>
<p>
Here are three neuter nouns, first alone and then with definite articles:&nbsp;</p>
<ul>
<li>
<em>barn</em> = child, <em>barnet</em> = the child</li>
<li>
<em>universitet</em> = university, <em>universitetet</em> = the university</li>
<li>
<em>djur</em> = animal, <em>djuret</em> = the animal</li>
</ul>
<p>
This kind of mental reordering -- reversing the familiar sequence of the article plus noun, and then fusing them&nbsp;<em>fast </em>-- is challenging for this native English speaker. Which makes me suspect it is good for me.</p>
<p>
P.S. I have just added two months to my Swedish studies. I am liking it. I need more time.</p>

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