All Slavic: About the Confusion of O-declension and U-declension

Christo Tamarin

Senior Member
Bulgarian
In Bulgarian

  • Matthew 28:19 Old Slavic v 1:
    Въ имя отьца и съıну и святаго духа
  • Matthew 28:19 Old Slavic v 2:
    Въ имя отьца и съıна и святаго духа
  • Matthew 28:19 Latin Vulgate:
    in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti
  • Matthew 28:19 Greek Original:
    εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ Πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ Υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ Ἁγίου Πνεύματος
  • Matthew 22:21 Old Slavic:
    Въздадите Кесарева Кесареви и Божıа Богови
  • Matthew 22:21 Modern Bulgarian:
    Въздайте Кесаревото Кесарю и Божието Богу
  • Matthew 22:21 Modern Russian:
    Отдавайте Кесарево Кесарю и Божие Богу
  • Matthew 22:21 Latin Vulgate:
    reddite ergo quae sunt Caesaris Caesari et quae sunt Dei Deo
  • Matthew 22:21 Greek Original:
    Ἀπόδοτε οὖν τὰ Καίσαρος Καίσαρι καὶ τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ τῷ Θεῷ
Under consideration are masculine nouns ending in -XЪ in Old Slavic where X stands for any consonant. Adjectives are out of consideration.

The masculine nouns ending in -XЪ fall in one of these two declensions: the O-declension (O-stem-declension) and the U-declension (U-stem-declension).

The problem is that people fell into confusion. Some forms (e.g. Nom Sing., Acc Sing., Acc Pl.) coincided. Slavophones actually did not know which declension to apply to some masculine noun. The oldest Slavic text contain the mixture of the O-declension and the U-declension by that reason.

[code=auto:0] Case: O-decl. U-decl. O-decl. U-decl. O-decl. U-decl. O-decl. U-decl. O-decl. U-decl.
Sing. Nominative: Богъ Богъ Духъ Духъ Съıнъ Съıнъ Народъ Народъ Родъ Родъ
Sing. Genitive: Бога Богу Духа Духу Съıна Съıну Народа Народу Рода Роду
Sing. Dative: Богу Богови Духу Духови Съıну Съıнови Народу Народови Роду Родови
Sing. Locative: Бозѣ Богу Дусѣ Духу Съıнѣ Съıну Народѣ Народу Родѣ Роду
Sing. Vocative: Боже Богу Душе Духу Съıне Съıну Народе Народу Роде Роду
Pl. Nominative: Бози Богове Дуси Духове - Съıнове Народи - Роди Родове
Pl. Genitive: Богъ Боговъ Духъ Духовъ - Съıновъ Народъ Народовъ Родъ Родовъ
[/code]

The traces of that phenomenon in the modern Slavic languages

Bulgarian-1. Historically, the two forms of the adverb meaning "below", долу and доле (spelled долѣ before 1945) are the locative of дол as an U-stem noun and O-stem noun correspondingly. The first form is the standard one, some dialects use the second one. By the way, another adverb, близу which is spelled близо seems to be also the U-stem locative of the noun *близ.

Bulgarian-2. Monosyllabic masculine nouns form their plural forms according to U-declension while polysyllabic ones follow the O-declension. Examples: градове, носове, гласове, волове, върхове, etc. Exceptions: мъже, коне, царе, лъчи, пръсти.

Bulgarian-3. Vocative forms masculine nouns usually follow the O-declension: Боже! Народе! Отче! Отче Паисие! Старче! Човече! Иване! Драгане! Господине! Лейтенанте! However, sometimes the U-declension forms appear: Другарю! Простаку spelled=> Простако! Човеку spelled=> Човеко!

Russian-1. Genitive plural forms in Russian sometimes follow the U-declension (народов, городов, голосов, депутатов, начальников, сербов, чехов, поляков, греков, etc), sometimes follow the O-declension (крестьян, граждан, болгар, турок, etc).

Russian-2. In Russian, sometimes, when no adjective is attributed, both the O-declension and U-declension forms of Genitive singular are used with different meaning: "Прозиводство сахара", "Сколько Вам сахару в кофе?". In this way, in Russian, the Genitive case has actually split into proper-Genitive and Partative-Genitive which have different forms only for masculine non-attributed nouns ending in consonant.

Russian-3. Sometimes, both the O-declension and U-declension forms of Prepositional (old Locative) singular are used with different meaning: "Находясь в Крыму, ..", ".. о Крыме шла речь." Thus, the Prepositional case has actually split into Locative and Referative Prepositional.

Polish-0. Just some examples are provided here.
  • Vocative Sing. O-stem vs. U-stem: Panе połkowniku!
  • Dative Sing. O-stem vs. U-stem: Panu połkownikowi
  • Genitive Sing. O-stem: Pana połkownika
  • Genitive Sing. U-stem: Banku Pocztowego
  • Nominative/Vocative pl. U-stem: Panowie

More examples are welcome. BCS, Czech, Slovak, Polish, ..
 
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  • Christo Tamarin

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Some more considerations.

    Let us go 11 centuries back. (We cannot, of course, so just imagine.)

    There are two Slavophones. Ostromirъ uses to apply the O-declension to "Богъ" (God), and Vlъkaшinъ - the U-declension.

    Another Slavophone meets them and says: "Слава Богови!". Both Ostromirъ and Vlъkaшinъ understand: "Glory To God!". Ostromirъ thinks: I would say "Слава Богу!".

    Yet another Slavophone meets them and says: "Слава Богу!". Ostromirъ understands: "Glory To God!". Vlъkaшinъ understands: "Glory Of God!" or "God's Glory!".

    Let us return to our time, to the area of modern Balkano-Slavic or Slavo-Balkanic, Bulgarian-Macedonian.

    Any of the expressions "Glory To God", "Glory Of God" or "God's Glory" are translated identically: "Слава на Бог" or "Слава на Бога" or "Слава Богу".

    Languages of the Balkansprachbund do not distinguish Genitive and Dative.
     

    Christo Tamarin

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Some more considerations.

    Innovative Accusative for Animated Nouns in Slavic.

    Phonetic changes , mostly related to the open syllables, cause the Accusative and Nominative Singular forms to coincide both for O-stem and U-stem declensions.

    Чьловѣкъ услъıша Богъ: Who heard home? "Man heard God?" "God heard Man?"

    As a solution, the Slavic language developed the category of animated nouns. For the animated nouns, the old Accusative went out of use, and an innovative Accusative was introduced whose forms were taken from Genitive.

    Чьловѣкъ услъıша Богъ: Who heard home? "Man heard God?" "God heard Man?"

    Чьловѣка услъıша Богъ: "God heard Man"
    Чьловѣкъ услъıша Бога: "Man heard God"

    Is this topic in some way related to the topic of the current thread? Yes, it is.

    The new Accusative takes Genitive forms by the O-stem declension only.

    Example: The noun "съıнъ" (son) could have both Genitive forms : "съıна" (O-stem) or "съıну" (U-stem). However , for the new
    Accusative, "съıна" (O-stem) was the only possible form.
     

    Panceltic

    Senior Member
    Slovenščina
    In Slovene, the stressed -u has become the norm in gen.sg. of some masculine nouns. (Sometimes the option with -a is also possible)

    grád, gradú
    méd, medú
    tát, tatú
    máh, mahú

    The variants gráda, méda, táta, máha are seen as a bit clumsy by most speakers.

    There is one instance of the archaic use of -u ending: This is mainly confined to church usage. sín, sinú (gen.sg. or acc.sg.) (everyday language uses sína)
     

    Daniel.N

    Member
    Croatian
    BCS

    the -ov- from sinov (G pl.) has spread to almost all monosyllabic nouns, to become the plural infix, that is:

    grad - grad-ov-i, glas - glas-ov-i (the same as Bulgarian trace #2) exceptions: konj-i, prst-i (similar again to Bulgarian, so it's a quite old feature; some dialects have it a bit differently!)

    there's a similar thing in vocatives as in Bulgarian trace #3

    G pl. in some dialects in Croatia shows the same double endings (empty vs. -ov) as in Russian trace #1
     

    ilocas2

    Banned
    Czech
    Polish-0. Just some examples are provided here.
    • Vocative Sing. O-stem vs. U-stem: Panе połkowniku!
    • Dative Sing. O-stem vs. U-stem: Panu połkownikowi
    • Genitive Sing. O-stem: Pana połkownika
    • Genitive Sing. U-stem: Banku Pocztowego
    • Nominative/Vocative pl. U-stem: Panowie

    More examples are welcome. BCS, Czech, Slovak, Polish, ..

    In Polish the result of this confusion is that if you learn Polish, you must learn every single masculine noun, whether it has -owi or -u in dative, as marco_2 pointed out in this post
     

    Christo Tamarin

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Case:O-decl.U-decl.O-decl.U-decl.O-decl.U-decl.O-decl.U-decl.O-decl.U-decl.
    Sing. Nominative:БогъБогъДухъДухъСъıнъСъıнъНародъНародъРодъРодъ
    Sing. Genitive:БогаБогуДухаДухуСъıнаСъıнуНародаНародуРодаРоду
    Sing. Dative:БогуБоговиДухуДуховиСъıнуСъıновиНародуНародовиРодуРодови
    Sing. Locative:БозѣБогуДусѣДухуСъıнѣСъıнуНародѣНародуРодѣРоду
    Sing. Vocative:БожеБогуДушеДухуСъıнеСъıнуНародеНародуРодеРоду
    Pl. Nominative:БозиБоговеДусиДухове-СъıновеНароди-РодиРодове
    Pl. Genitive:БогъБоговъДухъДуховъ-СъıновъНародъНародовъРодъРодовъ
    The table had to be converted to the new version of bb-code.
    Sorry, I have no permission to edit the original old post.
     

    bibax

    Senior Member
    Czech (Prague)
    Czech:

    masculine animate nouns: o-stem declension (most cases, but with some double forms);

    chlap (guy), gen. chlapa, dat. chlapovi, voc. chlape, ... plur. chlapi/chlapové
    bůh (god), gen. boha, dat. bohu/bohovi, voc. bože, ... plur. bozi/bohové
    syn (son), gen. syna, dat. synu/synovi, ... but voc. synu

    masculine inanimate nouns: u-stem declension (or rather a mixed declension);

    dub (oak), gen. dubu (never duba), voc. dube, ... plur. duby (dubové is poetic and masc. animate)

    !!! but there are many exceptions, e.g. les (forest), gen. lesa, ...;
    !!! and many double forms, e.g. loc. sing. o hradu/na hradě (about the castle/in the castle);

    Czech is really difficult in this respect.
     
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    A special case is represented by north-western Old East Slavic (the Novgorod dialect and the much worse attested Pskov dialect), where in the hard o-stems the Nom. Sg. developed *-as>-e (хлѣбе, замъке, игумене, брате, вънуке, Иване; кѣле "цѣлъ", свободьне, мьрьтве "мрьтвъ", новъгородьске, написане, выбите, рекле, побѣгле; котореи "которыи"; вьхе "вьсь", саме, кето "къто") and thus remained opposed to *-uṣ>-ъ (бебръ~бобръ, боръ, вьрхъ, даръ, дългъ, медъ, миръ, низъ, полъ, рѧдъ, солодъ, станъ, сынъ, търгъ) so that the separate u-declension survived better than in contemporary Old Church Slavonic and southern Old East Slavic, cp. in the same text: Селѧтине сыно "Селѧтинъ сынъ" (о was often used for ъ in the local orthographic tradition). For phonetics, contrast also the Nom. Sg. masc. -ле (дале, възѧле, быле, приходиле, шьле, рекле, съвезле) in the l-Participle vs. -(в)ъ (кѹпивъ, посълавъ, добывъ, възьмъ, шьдъ, въсадивъ) in the consonant-stem us-Participle (Зализняк АА · 2004 · Древненовгородский диалект)
     
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    For phonetics, contrast also the Nom. Sg. masc. -ле (дале, възѧле, быле, приходиле, шьле, рекле, съвезле) in the l-Participle
    This -e has been leveled out in the following centuries, but twenty years ago there was at least one dialectal speaker attested who still used this as a variant: Хонселаар З · 2001 · Говор деревни Островцы Псковской области: 178–179 (e. g. Серёжка приехале в субботу — пешом пришле).
     
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