all Slavic: male names/nicknames ending in -a?

Discussion in 'Other Slavic Languages' started by Gavril, Nov 12, 2013.

  1. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA

    It seems to be common in Slavic languages (as in many other European lgs.) for female names to be associated with the ending "-a". However, in Russian, I think certain male names can be formed into nicknames ending in "-a": Grigory > Grisha, Ivan > Vanya, etc.

    Do any other Slavic languages have this system for male nicknames, or any other pattern of male names ending in -a?

    Thanks for any info
  2. FairOaks Banned

    In Bulgarian, diminutives with –а are formed likewise; for instance:
    Ива̀н –> Ва̀нка
    Па̀вел –> Па̀вка

    Анто̀н(и/ий) –> То̀нка
    Костадѝн –> Ко̀ста
    There are also some male names whose main form already ends in –а (Нико̀ла).
  3. Duya Senior Member

    Not in WR world
    In Serbo-Croatian area, an isogloss where male nicknames end in -o (Jovo, Pero, Tomo, Đoko) on the West and -a on the East ((Jova, Pera, Toma, Đoka), roughly corresponds with ijekavian-ekavian border, i.e. in western Serbia. Somewhat surprisingly, their declension pattern is the same in both East and West (like feminine, a- nouns); however, in the South (Montenegro, Herzegovina, Dalmatia) they decline like masculine, -o nouns (Pero : Pera, Milo : Mila).

    Of course, there are a few proper male names which always end in -a: Nikola, Luka, Andrija, Matija, not affected by this isogloss.
  4. ilocas2 Senior Member

    Yes, there are many male nicknames ending in -a in Czech. Some of them:

    Jiří - Jirka
    Vojtěch - Vojta
    Jindřich - Jindra
    Jakub - Kuba
    Ondřej - Ondra
    Petr - Péťa
    Stanislav - Standa
    Jaroslav, Jaromír - Jarda, Jára
  5. Roman A Member

    Ukrainian: Iван-Iванко-Iвасик(Ivаn-Ivаnko-Ivаsyk), Ярослав-Ярик(Jаroslаv-Jаryk), Ярослава-Яра або Яся(Jаroslаvа-Jаrа or Jаsjа/еnglish j-y Yаsyа), Вiкторiя-Вiка, або Вiкуся(Viktorija-Vika or Vikusja)
  6. Roman A Member

    ilokas2, ukrainian Станiслав-Стас/Стасик,Стасько(Stаnislаv-Stаs/Stаsyk/Stаs'ko), Петро-Петрик/Петрусь(Pеtro-Pеtryk/Pеtrus'), Андрiй-Андрiйко/Андрюшко(Аndrij-Аndrijko/Аndrjuško), Юрiй-Юрко/Юрчик/Юрась/Юрасик/Юра(Jurij-Jurko/Jurčyk/Juras'/Jurasyk/Jurа, Олександр-Сашко/Санько(Oleksandr-Saško/Saňko), Павло-Павлик/Павлусь(Pavlo-Pavlyk/Pavlus'), Роман-Рома/Ромчик/Ромко(Roman-Roma/Romčyk/Romko), Якiв-Яшко(Jаkiv-Jаško) Олег-Олежко(Oležko),Василь-Василько/Васько( Vasyľ-Vasyľko/Vas'ko)
  7. itreius Senior Member

    Apart from what Duja said (which corresponds to the dominant way of making nicknames), dialectally there are some varieties, although they're being fased out because they're not prestige. In northern Croatia, there are still older people who use the -a nickname formation. For example,

    Stjepan -> Števa (however, Štef is much more common)

    Stanko - Stana

    Ivan -> Iva (again, Ivek is more common even within that geographical area)

    Tomislav -> Toma (the accent is short unlike in standard)
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2013
  8. Roman A Member

    Ivаn>Iva? Ukrаiniаn: Iва(Iva)-wееping willow :-D
  9. ilocas2 Senior Member

    Roman A, I was writting the most frequent and -a ending nicknames for those names, for each name there are more nicknames. That willow iva is jíva in Czech. We have also the male names Ivo and Ivan, the female names Iva and Ivana. Also Iveta, Yveta and Yvetta. Yvona, Ivona, Yvonna, Yvonne, Ilona etc.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2013
  10. bibax Senior Member

    Not all a-stem nouns are feminine. There are also some a-stem masculine nouns in the IE European languages, exclusively denoting persons, never (IMHO) things.

    Latin: poeta, agricola, incola, nauta, -cida (homicida, ...), Agrippa, Sulla, etc.
    In Latin they are declined exactly the same way like the a-stem feminine nouns (e.g. femina = woman).

    Czech: vojvoda, předseda, ... and many nouns of Graeco-Latin origin like patriarcha, monarcha, pianista, artista, etc.

    So it is not uncommon to have hypocorisms ending with -a. Jarda (Jágr :)) is declined like pianista, i.e. in some cases differently than the feminines like e.g. žena (unlike in Latin or Old Czech).
  11. Azori Senior Member

    In Slovak it's not common for male names and nicknames to end in -a. Male nicknames usually end in -o:

    Martin -> Maťo
    Daniel -> Dano
    Vladimír -> Vlado

    Male names ending in -a are quite rare and unpopular (the Slovak name day calendar has names like Gejza and Iľja, for instance; there are also some Hungarian names in use - Béla, Attila...). As for nicknames, the only one I can think of right now is Pišta (for the name Štefan) - this seems to be of Hungarian origin and I think only some older people (named Štefan) get called this - I don't see it being used among young people.
  12. I think this is quite important observation when put together with the fact that Slovak lost vocative. Now > I am wondering if it could be possible that the reason for so many nicknames in other Slavic languages (which preserve vocative) ending in -a is that these nominative forms evolved from the corresponding vocative case of nickname (as this is the most used case for nicknames) by simply applying the declension pattern of other masculines with vocative in -o > which happen to have nominative in -a?

    Czech: Jaroslav > Jardo! > Jarda (as in hrdina-hrdino!)
    Slovak: Jaroslav > Jaro! (former vocative) > Jaro (since vocative is lost the former vocative became nominative)

    I think this is still in regular use and I hope I am not that old yet. :) I am from Western Slovakia/Piešťany and have 2 friends in their early thirties named Štefan and nicknamed Pišta. As you say this indeed is of Hungarian origin and that might be an explanation as for why the -o vocative to nominative pattern doesn't apply (Pišta had aleady been perceived as a vocative).
  13. TriglavNationalPark

    TriglavNationalPark Senior Member

    Chicago, IL, U.S.A.
    Slovenian (a.k.a. Slovene)
    Well, Slovenian also lost the vocative, yet male names and nicknames ending in -a are common in Slovenian (Miha, Grega, Jaka, and so on).
  14. ahvalj

    ahvalj Senior Member

    In Russian, this shift towards -a in such kind of personal names was spreading gradually and is documented since the first records in the 11th century (А. А. Зализняк · 2004 · Древненовгородский диалект: pp. 207–211). No connection with the fate of the Vocative in Russian can be traced.
  15. klemen Member

    Is "a" at the end of male names ending with "a" also pronounced as "a" in Russian? Somewhere I read that in Russian some letters are pronounced differently as they are written.
  16. ahvalj

    ahvalj Senior Member

    When unstressed, it is a schwa sound of an a-timbre. Foreign speakers perceive it as "a".
  17. jasio Senior Member

    In the Polish language first names ending with "-a" are so unequivocally related to women that this rule can be used pretty blindly to determine a person's sex. There are just a few exceptions, such as "Bonawentura" (extremaly rare) or "Kuba" (from "Jakub"). Recently the number of exceptions grew however, because of a growing popularity of foreign first names.

    The rule also applies to nicknames derived from the first names. Nicknames derived from the last names or common words behave differently though, since there is quite a number of non-feminine loanwords ending with "-a" (some of the Czech examples from post #10 apply to Polish as well).
  18. Christo Tamarin

    Christo Tamarin Senior Member

    А-stem nouns can be either feminine or masculine, but never neuter. This is true for Greek, Latin, Slavic, etc.

    In Slavic, there are a-stemmed masculines like владыка, воевода, слуга, etc.

    Moreover, at least in Bulgarian, Russian, Serbian, there are masculine names in -a originating from Greek: Савва, Никита, Коста.

    In many Slavic languages, diminutive forms are a-stemmed which should not be surprising.
  19. francisgranada Senior Member

    An other, perhaps more probable, explanation may be that this Slovak -o comes from Hungarian along with some nicknames (e.g. Slovak Fero < Hung. Feró < Ferenc [Francis]) and later extended also to other Slovak nicknames (e.g. Jaro, Vlado). In Hungarian -ó/-ő is an old diminutive ending of Ugric (or Finno-Ugric) origin used also with some feminine names (e.g. Kató < Katalin [Catherine]) and in other words (e.g. apó < apa [father]).
    The same is valid for Eastern Slovakia. As to the origin, it seems to be a word of baby-talk transforming István [Stephen] to Pista. (The "regular" nickname in Hungarian from István is Isti, but Pista is surely much more widespread).

    P.S. In the Eastern Slovakian dialects the vocative still exists, so we have e.g. Jarku!, Ferku! Jožku! in the vocative case, while Jarko, Ferko, Jožko are the corresponding nominative forms.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2014
  20. jasio Senior Member

    It may, or may not be Hungarian.

    In Poland, "-o" nicknames and diminuations used to be quite popular. I am not sure though, what was their distribution. They even happened to enter literature:
    - "Janko Muzykant" (Johnny the Musician), a contemporary short story written in the end of 19th century about a poor young musician
    - "Maćko z Bogdańca" (Matthias from Bogdaniec), a fictional character in a historical novel "Krzyżacy" ('Teuton knights') written in the same period, but set in early 15th century.

    Diminuations like 'Jasio', 'Józio', 'Kazio', 'Tadzio', 'Rysio', 'Grzesio', 'Henio' and many more, plus their analogues using a vocative case instead of the nominative case (in general - having '-u' instead of '-o', so 'Jasiu', 'Józiu', 'Tadziu', etc) still seem to be somewhat popular in some circles - especially for children or close friends.
  21. francisgranada Senior Member

    This is interesting for me because I didn't know about nicknames in -o in Polish. In fact, the Hungarian influence on Polish nicknames is quite improbable, however in Slovak we find some nicknames that can be explained (from the phonetical point of view) surely better on the basis of the Hungarian version of the corresponding names (regardless of the ending, e.g. Fero, Ďuro, Palo, Jožo ...) that may suggest the Hungarian origin of this "-o".

    At the same time the clear distinction of the nominative vs. vocative in Polish as well as in Eastern Slovak dialects seems to contradict to the possible "vocative interpretation/origin" of the discussed "-o". Furthermore, normally the nouns in "-o" are typically (if not exlusively...) of neuter gender in Slavic languages. So where does this "-o" come from? ... :)

    P.S. It would be interesting to know the geographical distribution of the -o nicknames in Polish, as in theory the Slovak influence may be possible as well.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2014
  22. jasio Senior Member

    "Improbable" does not yet mean "impossible" - especially if you consider that historically the Polish language had much larger reach than nowadays. :) In fact, my own grandpa, who was born under Habsburgs, knew some basics of Hungarian. Anyway, there are some loanwords in Polish from Hungarian, and even from Romanian, but they must have reached us with mountain sheppards' culture (Vlachs). There are also some military-related loanwords, but I think that the Hungarian influence on Polish was neither that strong nor that long to impose structural changes directly.

    My own guts turn my eyes towards East rather than towards South. And indeed, there are some attested Ruthenian (nick)names with "-o", such as Ivanko, Vasylko, etc. Like, to give just an example. Perhaps a professional linguist could explain, if it was an ancient Ugro-Finnish influence on Ruthenian, Ruthenian influence on Hungarian, or independent developments, which later happened to meet in Slovakia.

    In Polish vocative case disappears for some time already, and several other cases are used instead in most real-life situations. However, when I recall names in vocative case, they may take various suffixes, often "-u" ("Janku", "Kasiu", "Franku"), "-e" ("Janie"), sometimes "-o" indeed ("Grażyno", "Jolanto", "Agnieszko"), but then with different names than "-o" used for diminuention in nominative ("Janko", "Jaśko", "Franio") which are - at least at the first glance - always masculine gender, while in vocative it's with feminine. Feminine names in nominative case almost exclusively end with "-a" even in diminuentions, such as "Grażynka", "Jola", "Aga"). So probably in Polish the two functions of "-o" never meet.
  23. ahvalj

    ahvalj Senior Member

    -o is frequently found in Ukrainian in the names of persons (including the extremely widespread surnames on -enko, cp. Russian and Belarusian -enok), and sometimes even personified objects, like the river "Dnipro". This seems to have absolutely no connection with the fate of the Vocative, which 1) is -e in this declension, and 2) is fully alive in Ukrainian. In the Old East Slavic, forms on -a coexisted with the fully developed Vocative (see the reference in my post # 14).

    The origin of this -o is disputable, but most probably related to the special development of the earlier Slavic -*ås. The Slavic has two kinds of nouns ending on the etymological -*ås in the Nominative: the neuter nouns like "nebo/nebese" (from "*nebås/nebeses") and the masculine nouns like "stolъ" (from "*stålås") with -ъ in all Slavic languages except for the ancient north-western East Slavic, which had -e there ("stole"). It is unknown which reflex is phonetic (-o or -ъ/e) and which one analogical. If -o is phonetical, the -o in the nicknames and the Ukrainian personal names may be the original form that escaped analogical leveling, due to its emphatic usage. This has been discussed for some 150 years, all possible scenarios have been analyzed, but the available data are not sufficient for any conclusion.
  24. klemen Member

    In Slovenia there are many male names ending with -o: Marko, Branko, Srečko, Stanko, ... It is the case also in Croatian language.

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