Upper Sorbian Grammar

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Declension of masculine nouns

Upper Sorbian masculine nouns as a rule in the nominative singular end with a consonant (or, strictly speaking, with a zero ending marked -0 in the table). Some of them may also end with -o (some personal names) and with -a.

Masculine nouns have the following set of endings:

singular
stem:softc z shardvelar
N-0
G-a (-u)
D-ej
Aanimate= genitive
inanimate= nominative
I-om
L-u-u/-’e
V-o-o/-'e-o
dual
stem:softother
N-ej-aj
G-ow
D-omaj
Avirile= genitive
non-virile= nominative
I-omaj
L-omaj
V= nominative
plural
stem:softc z shardvelar
Nvirile-ojo-ojo, -’a
non-virile-e-y-i
G-ow/-i-ow
D-am
Avirile= genitive
non-virile= nominative
I-emi-ami
L-ach
V= nominative

The symbol -0 stands for a zero ending (an ending that is not represented by any sound in speech nor by any letter in writing).


Consonant and vowel changes


The palatalising -’e and -’a endings

An apostrophe before an ending (-’e, -’a) signals that some consonants when preceeding this ending alternate as shown below:

consonant changeexample
N sing. > L sing.
meaning
d > lud > luepeople, tribe
t > ćinsekt > insekćeinsect
tr > bratr > braebrother
ł > lwosoł > wosoledonkey
ch > šhrěch > hrěšesin
h > zbrjóh > brjozebank, coast

Whenever any other consonant preceeds an ending marked with an apostrophe, the consonant turns into its soft counterpart:

consonant changeexample
N sing. > L sing.
meaning
n > njnan > nanjefather
m > mjštom > štomjetree

These endings in masculine nouns are only used with hard-stem and velar-stem nouns.


The ó : o alternation

Some masculine nouns that in the nominative singular form have -ó- as their last vowel replace it with -o- in the other forms, ex.:

vowel changeexample
N sing. > G sing.
meaning
ó > oód > odahunger

Additional comments on some endings

G sing.

Some masculine nouns may have both -a and -u endings, but most of them may only have -a. There are no nouns that could have only -u ending in the Genitive singular, so the easiest way to avoid mistakes is to use always only the -a ending.

A sing., A du., A plur.

In singular the accusative ending coincides with that of nominative, when a noun refers to a thing or a phenomenon, and with that of genitive, when a noun refers to a person or an animal. In dual and plural the accusative ending coincides with the genitive's one (resp. dual or plural) only for nouns that stand for a human being.

L sing.

All the so-called soft-stem nouns and those that in Nom.sing. end with -c, s or z always have the -u ending. Other nouns may have both -u and -'e endings.

V sing.

The -o ending is most often (but not exclusively) used with the soft-stem nouns and those that in the h, ch, k, c, s. z. There is no rule that would describe the usage of vocative endings with other nouns.

N plur.

Nouns that stand for animals or things (also phenomena) have the -y/-i ending (-i when a noun ends with h, ch or k and -y in all other cases) when they are hard-stem, and the -e ending when they are soft-stem.

Nouns that stand for human beings usually have the -ojo ending when they have only one syllable in the Nom.sing. When they are longer they may have one or more of all others Nom.plur. endings.

G plur.

All nouns may have the -ow ending but some of the soft-stem nouns may also have the -i ending.

I plur.

Hard-stem nouns have the -ami ending and soft stem ones have the -emi ending.


Examples


A hard-stem animated virile noun

nan father

singulardualplural
Nnannanajnanojo
Gnanananownanow
Dnanejnanomajnanam
Ananananownanow
I(z) nanom(z) nanomaj(z) nanami
L(w) nanje(w) nanomaj(w) nanach
Vnano!nanaj!nanojo!


A hard-stem inanimated noun

hrěch sin

singulardualplural
Nhrěchhrěchajhrěchi
Ghrěcha/hrěchuhrěchowhrěchow
Dhrěchejhrěchomajhrěcham
Ahrěchhrěchajhrěchi
I(z) hrěchom(z) hrěchomaj(z) hrěchami
L(w) hrěchu/hrěše(w) hrěchomaj(w) hrěchach
Vhrěcho!hrěchaj!hrěchi!


A velar-stem animated non-virile noun
hołb pigeon

singulardualplural
Nhołbhołbjejhołbje
Ghołbjahołbjowhołbjow
Dhołbjejhołbjomajhołbjam
Ahołbjahołbjejhołbje
I(z) hołbjom(z) hołbjomaj(z) hołbjemi
L(w) hołbju(w) hołbjomaj(w) hołbjach
Vhołbjo!hołbjej!hołbje!



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