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A question about numerals

Discussion in 'Polski (Polish)' started by Lorenc, Jul 3, 2011.

  1. Lorenc

    Lorenc Senior Member

    I'm trying to read Animal Farm (Folwark zwierzęcy) in Polish. In the first chapter there is this passage:
    Liczę sobie dwanaście lati jestem ojcem ponad czterystu potomków. Takie jest zwykłe życie świni.
    I would like to know which of the following forms are correct alternatives.
    1) jestem ojcem ponad czterystu potomkami.
    2) jestem ojcem ponad czterystoma potomkami.
    3) jestem ojcem ponad czterystoma potomków.

  2. jazyk Senior Member

    Brno, Česká republika
    Brazílie, portugalština
    I would say none of your alternatives are correct, as ponad requires the accusative case.
  3. Pan_Lear New Member

    Hi there - unfortunately non of this three is correct. You can obviously modify whole sentence, but I believe this is only way to say that with this beginning.
  4. linguos

    linguos Senior Member

    Actually, it's not only the case with ponad as jazyk suggests. You would always say: "I'm the the father of + [genitive]" - "Jestem ojcem + [dopełniacz]".

    Jestem ojcem trzech chłopców i czterech dziewcząt. - I'm the father of 3 boys and 4 girls.
    Jestem ojcem pięćdziesięciu milionów ośmiuset osiemdziesięciu ośmiu tysięcy dwustu siedemdziesięciu czterech świń - I'm the father of 5,888,274 pigs. :)

    So, unfortunately, none of your alternatives is correct.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2011
  5. jazyk Senior Member

    Brno, Česká republika
    Brazílie, portugalština
    I think you mean genitive - dopełniacz.
  6. linguos

    linguos Senior Member

    Yep, true, my mistake. I just looked at your post with "ponad requires the accusative case" and somehow this bloody accusative didn't want to get out of my head, heh. Good catch. :)

    However, luckily there isn't any practical difference in my first example, the genitive of "trzy" is the same as the accusative in masculine numerals.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2011
  7. BezierCurve Senior Member

    Theoreticaly it is also possible to use dative in cases like this:

    Jestem wam ojcem i matką. / I'm a father and a mother to/for you.

    However, "Jestem ojcem ponad czterystu potomkom" sounds a bit unusual, if not awkward.
  8. Lorenc

    Lorenc Senior Member

    Thanks everybody! My mistake was to expect ponad to take the instrumental case, which is incorrect in this case where it means "more than" and not "above" in the physical sense. Anyhow, I also found this sentence on the net in an essay on Pan Tadeusz:
    Młody Soplica, bowiem miał wielu krewnych, a że umiał przewodzić innym, cała rodzina była mu uległa, dzięki czemu dysponował ponad trzystoma głosami na sejmikach.
    Is this usage above correct? How about ponad trzystu głosów?
  9. Tazzler Senior Member

    American English
    Zastawiam się, dlaczego czytasz książkę, która była oryginalnie napisana po angielsku, po polsku! Istnieją tysiące dobrych polskich książek!

    From what I found and from they said above, that instrumental is probably a bląd!
  10. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    This is definitely an error. No native speaker would say so.
  11. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    This is not a case like this.
    First: "Jestem wam ojcem i matką." is very unusual sentence.
    Second: the meaning of "Jestem wam ojcem/matką" is not "I am your father/mother", but "I am like your father/mother for you" or "My role is to be a father/mother for you". That's why you use a different case.
  12. linguos

    linguos Senior Member

    Blimey! Mickiewicz originally wrote Pan Tadeusz in English? That's certainly a novelty to me! :)

    Yes, it is correct. The verb "dysponować" requires the instrumental case here.

    Please, have a look at the examples below:

    Dysponuję aktywami tej spółki. - I possess the assets of this company/I have the assets of this company at my disposal. (dysponować + narzędnik [the instrumental case])

    Mam aktywa tej spółki. - I have the assets of this company. (mieć + biernik [the accusative case])

    Jestem właścicielem aktywów tej spółki. - I am the owner of the assets of this company. (być właścicielem + dopełniacz [the genitive case])

    I hope this helps, Lorenc. :)
  13. Zapewne chodziło o "Folwark...", nie o "Tadka". ;)
  14. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    Nawet nie zapewne, a z pewnością, wystarczy przeczytać pierwszy post w wątku.
  15. Lorenc

    Lorenc Senior Member

    I absolutely agree there there are thousands of excellent books by Polish authors, and my reading a translated one should not be misconstrued as a judgment of merit of Polish literature! :)
    The reasons I'm reading Animal Farm are the following:
    1) (main) I happen to own an excellent audiobook version of the book in Polish (kolekcjia Mistrzowie słowa).
    2) It's one of my favourite books, along with 1984. Being already familiar with the story, and having the original text near at hand, are very useful aids.
    3) It's a short book, which means I can conceivably read it all (over many months), and it's a relatively easy read.
    4) Translations are often easier than the original texts. Most "serious" Polish literature is still to hard for me. With a lot of patience I can read books for children or some non-fiction books (e.g., Kapuściński) but they they don't come as audiobooks and/or I don't have the English translation.

    I hope this answers your perplexities :)
  16. Lorenc

    Lorenc Senior Member

    Thank you for pointing this out, linguos. It's a shame that dictionaries (a part from Swan's online one) do not consistently point out which case a verb requires. One can only infer it by reading the examples (if any).
    I any case I'm still a little confused, as other posters said the example I quoted dysponował ponad trzystoma głosami is incorrect. My logic (often flawed, to be sure) would agree with them, as the numeral is governed by the preposition ponad, not directly by the verb. Let me elaborate on an example from the PWN dictionary:
    szpital dysponuje 100 łóżkami
    I suppose 100 should be read as stu or, alternatively (possibly more rarely?), as stoma. Am I right? If one were to use ponad the only possibility would then be
    szpital dysponuje ponad stu łóżek
    Is this correct?
    Thanks again everybody for your help!
  17. BezierCurve Senior Member

    Well, Lorenc was exploring various possibilities with different cases, that's why I pointed it out.

    Also, unlike it's been said, the first second sentence "jestem ojcem ponad czterystoma potomkami." is in fact grammaticaly correct, it just conveys a different meaning.

    EDIT: Sorry, I meant one thing while typing another.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2011
  18. lampak New Member

    100 in this case should be read as "stoma" - "dysponować" requires the instrumental case ((z) kim? (z) czym?). The only correct sentence with "ponad" is then "szpital dysponuje ponad stoma łóżkami".

    Adding "ponad" to a sentence doesn't change its grammar (or at least I can't think of an example where it would).

    "Jestem ojcem czterystu potomków" -> "Jestem ojcem ponad czterystu potomków"
    "...dysponuje trzystoma głosami" -> "...dysponuje ponad trzystoma głosami"

    What meaning is it supposed to convey? That you are a father being 400 descendants? I haven't hear of anyone who were 400 people at the same time. Or maybe you use 400 children as a tool for being a father? :p
    Anyway, let's not add any extra confusion.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2011
  19. linguos

    linguos Senior Member

    Who said that? Tazzler and Ben Jamin were responding to your original post, not your second example from Pan Tadeusz. ;) "(...) dysponował ponad trzystoma głosami" is definitely correct.

    Please, read lampak's post for the confirmation of what I had already tried to explain. :)

    I know that, I was only making a joke of Tazzler's misplaced and thus a bit unfortunate intrusion. He should have specified that he was responding to the original post, not to Lorenc's second question. The same applies to the Ben Jamin's comment. Lorenc read it as though Ben Jamin was implying that the quote from Pan Tadeusz was incorrect. We should always be careful to which part of which post we are referring to. :)
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2011
  20. BezierCurve Senior Member

    Have a look there.
  21. lampak New Member

    I haven't thought about that :D
  22. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    This is a joke. The sentence has no meaning without the picture.
  23. Lorenc

    Lorenc Senior Member

    I am emerging from the confusion.
    I can explain the train of thought which lead to my grammatical misunderstanding of the original sentence jestem ojcem ponad czterystu potomków.

    1) I saw ponad and then erroneously assumed that the words following it should to be expressed in the instrumental. Of course I was thinking of expressions like ponad lasem, where ponad is a preposition.
    In the present case ponad is a particle (partykuła), like e.g. tylko or przynajmniej, and particles "don't change the grammar", as lampak said; the case in which words coming after a particle are expressed is determined by the structure of the sentence.

    2) I assumed czterystu to be a possible form of the instrumental of czterysta. This may not be wrong in general (see below), but in this case czterystu is definitely genitive.

    3) At first I thought that the counted thing was in the genitive because governed by czterystu.
    However, I was pretty sure that it cannot be so, as structures of the "trzy koty biegną/pięć kotów biegnie"-type arise when the counted thing is in the "subject slot". In oblique cases I remembered numerals behave as adjectives and agree with the counted noun (it turned out this is not always true, see below.).

    This is what spurred my original question: I expected potomków to agree with the numeral (which actually does) but I though the numeral to be in the instrumental because of ponad.
    What a mess! :-(
    Everything is clear now, I hope. Polish numerals have made many victims but I remain steadfast in my battle against them all, z zera do nieskończoności!

    As an acid test, please tell me if these sentences I've just made up are correct:
    Szpital dysponuje [tylko/ponad/przynajmniej/...] stoma łóżkami. (stoma łóżkami in the instrumental as required by the verb dysponuje)
    Szpital korzysta z usług [tylko/ponad/przynajmniej/...] stu lekarzy. (stu lekarzy in the genitive as required by z usług)
    Szpital podziękował [tylko/ponad/przynajmniej/...] stu lekarzom. (stu lekarom in the dative as required by the verb podziękować)

    A further complication which contributed to my confusion to point 2 above is that, according to my grammars, milion and tysiąc always require the genitive of the counted noun, also in oblique cases. Therefore I'd expect
    Szpital podziękował ponad pięciuset lekarzom.
    but (just guessing)
    Szpital podziękował ponad pięciu tysiącom lekarzy.

    One last thing before I go:
    But... surely stu is also possible as the instrumental of sto? My Słownik Gramatyczy Języka Polskiego (by Saloni et al) lists stoma as "rzadkie". Swan's Grammar of Contemporary Polish similarly mentions stoma as "optional alongside forms with -u."
    What do you think?

    Thanks again!
  24. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    As far as I can see, you have understood the rules very well. All your examples are correct Polish. Congratulations!
    I personally, would rather use "stoma" in the instrumental case of "sto", but "dwustu" in the case of "dwieście".
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 19, 2011
  25. linguos

    linguos Senior Member

    Yes, Lorenc, this time you did it, all your sentences seem to be correct. :)

    As for the instrumental case of "sto", I would normally use "stoma", unless we were talking about a number exceeding 100, but smaller than 200, as 105 (stu pięcioma) or 196 (stu dziewięćdziesięcioma sześcioma).

    However, thanks to Google, I can see that both versions are in use, so it would appear that you may say Szpital dysponuje stoma łóżkami as well as Szpital dysponuje stu łóżkami.

    Btw, we normally say "od zera do nieskończoności". ;)


    As far as "jestem ojcem ponad czterystoma potomkami" is concerned, I also fail to see how it could be grammatically correct and what is it supposed to mean.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2011
  26. lampak New Member

    So did I until BezierCurve explained it with a picture: "I am a father above/over/nad 400 descendants".

    According to slowniki.gazeta.pl "stu" is indeed a correct instrumental of "sto": "ze stoma a. ze stu". It still sounds strange to me, though.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2011
  27. jazyk Senior Member

    Brno, Česká republika
    Brazílie, portugalština
  28. linguos

    linguos Senior Member

    OK, after viewing the image from the link, I agree that in this particular case the sentence is grammatically correct. However, it still has no application in practice.
  29. BezierCurve Senior Member

    I guess it makes as much sense in practice as the original proposition ("Jestem ojcem ponad czterystu potomków."). Unless we're talking about a serious polygamist here.
  30. linguos

    linguos Senior Member

    Well, I would say it's easier for me to imagine a creature in a cartoon, or even an alien in a film saying that it has five hundred children, than the same creature saying that it is [standing] over 500 of its children.

    The queen bee gives birth to most or all inhabitants of the hive. In an average hive there are thousands of bees. So, she actually is a mother of thousands drones and worker bees. And I can imagine her being a character in a cartoon boasting about it. :D

    Which doesn't change the fact that your example is very good. It shows how flexible language can be and that what can at first glance look to be incorrect, may later turn out to be correct in some peculiar cases. :)
  31. Tazzler Senior Member

    American English
    Sorry for the intrusion. It was just funny to me as it seemed tantamount to my reading Dickens in Italian! Though I understand your reasoning, Lorenc, I'd hate to spend my energies reading a text in a foreign language that wasn't originally written in that language to begin with. I mean, there is always lighter fare if you want to practice a language without wanting to rip your hair out from frustration. And linguos, that quote was about Pan Tadeusz, not from it ;). It seems to me that even though "ponad" normally requires the accusative when numbers or quantities are involved, if another word calls for a different case then that word overrides "ponad" and what follows "ponad" is in the case required by the earlier word. Poles, is this estimation correct?
  32. BezierCurve Senior Member

    It is. It all dependsTo make it easier to understand we could have imagine brackets here:

    ponad > (czterystoma potomkami)
    (ponad czterystu) > potomkami

    So, it all depends what part is the "ponad" attached to.

    As for reading something you know in another language I find it a great help in learning languages. You know the contex very well, so you can guess the meaning of new words instead of looking them up every five seconds.
  33. Lorenc

    Lorenc Senior Member

    Well, yes, in general I wouldn't read translated literature either, but it just so happened that I had this audiobook version and I thought "Why not?". I don't see anything particularly wrong with it.
    By the way, I also have a couple of short questions on two passages from the first chapter. I hope no one minds doing this in this thread without opening a new one. The animal's hymn goes
    Słuchajcie pilnie radosnej nowiny,
    Wkrótce wolności będzie bił wam dzwon.

    I'm not sure I understand the construction in the second line. Does it mean Wkrótce dzwon wolności będzie bił dla was?
    Also, a little later, it goes
    Obalim ludzi - jawą wrócą sny,
    Po odzyskanych, żyznych ziemiach Anglii
    Stąpać będziemy w chwale jeno my.

    I couldn't find the meaning of obalim and o jeno.
  34. linguos

    linguos Senior Member

    Yes, it does.

    As for the rest:

    Obalim = Obalimy (we will abolish)
    jeno = jedynie, tylko (only)
  35. Not necessarily. ;) It could mean "We will drink". :d
  36. linguos

    linguos Senior Member

    Yeah, but I just wanted to stick to the point. :)
  37. Tazzler Senior Member

    American English
    Okay, if it works for you. I'm not criticizing you. At least you have the original to turn to if you don't know what a Polish word means. And by the way, the publishing house Hippocrene has short Polish works with English translation that go for very little. Something to check out.

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