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Expressions of futirity in english - how is the future expressed in english and swedish?
2000 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year))Student thesis
Abstract [en]

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis claims that language moulds our world-view and thus implies that people who speak different languages have different perceptions of the world around them. One of the differences between English and Swedish is the way in which the future is expressed. In English, the most common way is by using the future tense will/shall + infinitive as in Spring will come again. In Swedish however the most common way is using the present tense as in Tåget går om fem minuter. The basic aim of this paper was to investigate how the future is expressed in English and Swedish and to compare them. 500 clauses, 50 examples each from ten different English books formed my primary material. I divided these clauses into four categories depending on which English future construction had been used and then noted how the clause had been rendered into Swedish. I found that will/shall + infinitive was the most widely used English future construction and that it was used to refer to events both in the near and in the distant future. A very interesting discovery was that more than a third of the clauses containing will actually referred to a present situation and not a future event. In Swedish, the present tense was frequently used when expressing the future but this tense tended to only be used when referring to events that had some present reality. The Swedish present tense was almost always accompanied by a marker of time, this being either a specific word in the clause or the context which clearly referred to the future. Although I found some differences, they were not great and the basic system of future reference in both languages is rather similar. I consider it highly unlikely that speakers of English and speakers of Swedish perceive the future differently and therefore came to the conclusion that future reference in English and Swedish is not a feature of these two languages where the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis can be applied.

Abstract [en]

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis claims that language moulds our world-view and thus implies that people who speak different languages have different perceptions of the world around them. One of the differences between English and Swedish is the way in which the future is expressed. In English, the most common way is by using the future tense will/shall + infinitive as in Spring will come again. In Swedish however the most common way is using the present tense as in Tåget går om fem minuter. The basic aim of this paper was to investigate how the future is expressed in English and Swedish and to compare them. 500 clauses, 50 examples each from ten different English books formed my primary material. I divided these clauses into four categories depending on which English future construction had been used and then noted how the clause had been rendered into Swedish. I found that will/shall + infinitive was the most widely used English future construction and that it was used to refer to events both in the near and in the distant future. A very interesting discovery was that more than a third of the clauses containing will actually referred to a present situation and not a future event. In Swedish, the present tense was frequently used when expressing the future but this tense tended to only be used when referring to events that had some present reality. The Swedish present tense was almost always accompanied by a marker of time, this being either a specific word in the clause or the context which clearly referred to the future. Although I found some differences, they were not great and the basic system of future reference in both languages is rather similar. I consider it highly unlikely that speakers of English and speakers of Swedish perceive the future differently and therefore came to the conclusion that future reference in English and Swedish is not a feature of these two languages where the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis can be applied.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2000. , 32 p.
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-53933Local ID: ENG D-7OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-53933DiVA: diva2:1102493
Subject / course
English
Available from: 2017-05-29 Created: 2017-05-29

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