Obersorbische Grammatik

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Adjectives

Upper Sorbian adjectives are inflected for number, case and gender. In contrast to nouns, which are all assigned to a specific gender, each adjective has separate forms for all the genders. The general rule is that the case form of an adjective used in a sentence corresponds to the case form of the noun the adjective reffers to. For instance when a masculine noun stands in the accusative singular form, the adjective describing the noun has to be in the masculine accusative singular form, compare:

Maćwidźidobrehonana.
mother
Nom.sing.fem.
see
3.sing.pres.
good
Acc.sing.masc.
father
Acc.sing.masc.
subjectverbattributedirect object
The mother sees the good father.

But if the case of the noun changes, the adjective follows this change:

Dajtodobremunanej.
give
2.sing.imperat.
this
Acc.sing.neut.
good
Dat.sing.masc.
father
Dat.sing.masc.
verbdirect objectattributeindirect object
Give it to the good father.

It holds true in singular. In plural and dual the situation is slightly more complicated: here we have only two different sets of gender forms. The first one called virile (vir.) is used only with masculine nouns that stand for a human being. The second one, called non-virile (nvir.), is used with all other nouns, ie. with all feminine and neuter ones and with those of the masculine nouns that don't stand for a human being.


Declension

The case endings of adjectives differ greatly from those of nouns.

The vocative forms of adjectives are always identical with the nominative forms, thus they are not shown in the tables below.

Adjectives have the following endings:

singular
masculinefeminineneuter
N-y/-i-a-e
G-eho-eje-eho
D-emu-ej-emu
A=N/=G-u-e
I-ym/-im-ej-ym/-im
L-ym/-im-ej-ym/-im
dual
virilenon-virile
N-aj/-ej-ej
G-eju
D-ymaj/-imaj
A-eju-ej
I-ymaj/-imaj
L-ymaj/-imaj
plural
virilenon-virile
N-'y/-'i-e
G-ych/-ich
D-ym/-im
A=G=N
I-ymi/-imi
L-ych/-ich
 

Comments on some of the endings

Many of the endings have two similar forms, one of which begins with -y- and the other one with -i-. The first one is used for adjectives that in the Nom.sing.masc. (the basic form shown in the dictionary entries) end with -y (hard-stem adjectives) and the latter one is used with adjectives that end with -i (soft-stem adjectives). It doesn't involve however the palatalising Nom.plur.vir. -'y/-'i ending.

Acc.sing.masc.
This ending always coincides with the Gen.sing.masc. ending when the adjective is an attribute of a noun that denotes a person or an animal and with the Nom.sing.masc. ending when the adjective is an attribute of a noun that doesn't denote a person nor an animal.

Nom.du.vir.
Hard-stem and velar-stem adjectives take the -aj ending and soft-stem adjectives take the -ej ending.

Nom.plur.vir.
Velar-stem adjectives take the palatalising -'y; before this ending, stem-final k, h and ch alternate with c, z and š respectively. Hard-stem and soft-stem adjectives take the ending -i that makes the stem-final d, t and ł alternate with , ć and l respectively.


Examples of adjectival declension

Hard-stem adjective:
zły bad

singulardualplural
masculinefeminineneutervirilenon-vir.virilenon-vir.
NzłyzłazłeNzłajzłejNzlizłe
GzłehozłejezłehoGzłejuGzłych
DzłemuzłejzłemuDzłymajDzłym
Azły/złehozłuzłeAzłejuzłejAzłychzłe
I(ze) złym(ze) złej(ze) złymI(ze) złymajI(ze) złymi
L(w) złym(w) złej(w) złymL(w) złymajL(w) złych

Velar-stem adjective:
wuski narrow

singulardualplural
masculinefeminineneutervirilenon-vir.virilenon-vir.
NwuskiwuskawuskeNwuskajwuskejNwuscywuske
GwuskehowuskejewuskehoGwuskejuGwuskich
DwuskemuwuskejwuskemuDwuskimajDwuskim
Awuski/wuskehowuskuwuskeAwuskejuwuskejAwuskichwuske
I(z) wuskim(z) wuskej(z) wuskimI(z) wuskimajI(z) wuskimi
L(w) wuskim(w) wuskej(w) wuskimL(w) wuskimajL(w) wuskich

Soft-stem adjective:
tuni cheap

singulardualplural
masculinefeminineneutervirilenon-vir.virilenon-vir.
NtunitunjatunjeNtunjejNtunitunje
GtunjehotunjejetunjehoGtunjejuGtunich
DtunjemutunjejtunjemuDtunimajDtunim
Atuni/tunjehotunjutunjeAtunjejutunjejAtunichtunje
I(z) tunim(z) tunjej(z) tunimI(z) tunimajI(z) tunimi
L(w) tunim(w) tunjej(w) tunimL(w) tunimajL(w) tunich


Comparative

Comparative is made by replacing the adjective's ending with the morpheme -š-, -iš- or -yš- and adding the -i ending. All adjectives in the comparative become soft-stem (the stem ends always in š) and decline accordingly. Comparative formation often also involves vocalic and consonantal stem alterations, ex. ody - ódši young - younger, kruty - krućiši severe - more severe.

The -š- suffix is used with adjectives the positive stem of which end in a single voiced consonant. If the consonant is ł, it turns into l before the suffix, ex.: słaby - słabši weak - weaker, nowy - nowši new - newer, wjesoły - wjeselši cheerful - more cheerful, strowy - strowši healthy - healthier, miły - milši dear - dearer.

The -yš- suffix is only used with adjectives with positive stems ending in s or z, ex. lózy - lózyši rude - ruder.

Most of the ather adjectives take the -iš- suffix, ex.:mudry - mudryši wise - wiser, sylny - sylniši strong - stronger. This suffix makes some of the final consonants of the positive stem palatalise: ch > š, t > ć, d > , ł > l, ex: ex.: , ćopły - ćopliši warm - warmer, hordy - horiši proud - prouder, wěsty - wěsćiši certain - more certain.

A few adjectives make their comparative by means of suppletion (a complete change of the stem), ex.: dobry - lěpši good - better, zły - hórši bad - worse.


Superlative

The superlative is made by adding the naj- prefix to the comparative, ex.: młody - młódši - najmłódši young - younger - the youngest.

The naj- prefix is never stressed, thus the superlative forms don't follow the general rule of stressing the first syllable, the second syllable being stressed instead.



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