Ni: You, You (r)

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ATHENA Ethical MEDIA

Ni: You, You (r) & THE SOCIAL HIERARCHY AND POLITICS OF A PRONOUN: ni = you

 

In Swedish language, ‘ni’ is pronoun: ni = you.

Snälla, kan ni säja vad är klockan? PLEASE, CAN YOU TELL ME THE TIME?

Ni is also used to address several people.

Hej, är ni färdiga nu? HELLO, ARE YOU ALL READY, NOW?

Ni is used to address an elderly person, or several persons, or kinder or polite form of ‘du’, or to show respect or emphasis respect to someone. The usage of ‘ni’ corresponds to ‘vous’ in French, ‘sie’ in German, ‘aap’ in Hindi, ‘meeru’ in Telugu, ‘maga’ in Hungarian and like your in English when addressing the monarch or a diplomat (your excellency).

The usage of ‘ni’ has gone through socio-political metamorphosis because it denoted a socio-political status in the society. ‘Ni’ was used to address to a person in position of privilege as a result of inheritance but that the Swedish society changed it for it is an egalitarian society. Since the second half of the twentieth century, ni is du (YOU) and general used to in plural sense (and addressing several people).

“The Social Democrats had set out to remake Swedish society almost completely. They had inherited a poor, patriarchial, and formal society, and turned it into a rich, feminist, and fiercely egalitarian one. They seemed to have abolished poverty and war; they had certainly abolished selective schooling and even selective pronouns: when they first took office, Swedish, like French and German, had formal and informal words for ‘you’, which expressed social position as well as degrees of intimacy; in fact it was extraordinarily rich in hierarchical and impersonal constructions for addressing social superiors. By the time they left, everyone was quite simply ‘you’.” – Fishing in Utopia: Sweden and the Future that Disappeared by Andrew Brown

Förstår ni? DO YOU UNDERSTAND? Such as a teacher asking the students in a classroom: Förstår ni?

PRONOUN: ‘Ni’ – YOU, YOUR, YOURS 

SUBJECTIVE  PRONOUN OBJECTVE

PRONOUN

REFLEXIVE PRONOUUN POSSESSIVE PRONOUN
Ni Er Er (en- word)

Ert (ett – word)

Era (plural)

Er

Ert

Era (plural)

YOU YOUR YOUR

YOURS

YOUR

YOURS

Vi ösnkar er alla en trevlig helg! WE WISH YOU ALL A HAPPY WEEKEND.

Ni är elever. YOU ARE LEARNERS.

If you get a chance, ask a Swede about ‘ni’ either by addressing ni or du, you will know more. If you are addressed as ‘ni’, it could also be inferred that is said humoursouly or with a twinkle in one’s eye: med glimten i ögat.