All Slavic languages: 1st person singular ending in -u or -m

Discussion in 'Other Slavic Languages' started by jadeite_85, Sep 30, 2010.

  1. jadeite_85 Senior Member

    italian, slovene
    I was wondering why certain slavic languages have regularly in the verb conjugation the ending -m in the first person singular and others have -u?

    Slovene: govorim vs Russian: говорю

    And why there are exceptions in some basic verbs, where occurs the -m in the languages where the -u is the standard rule and there occurs the -u, where the -m is the general rule.


    In BCS the -m ending is regular, but for the verbs htjeti and moći, you have
    -ja hoću
    -ja mogu

    On the other hand in Russian the -u ending is regular, while the -m ending occur in the verbs дать есть
    я дам
    я ем

    If I remember correctly the same happens in Czech and Slovak. In Slovene that doesn't occur though.

    Is it maybe because in proto slavic there where two endings for the first person singular depending on the conjugation pattern?
  2. phosphore Senior Member

    That's right. A short answer would be that in Proto-Slavic there were two classes of verbs, ones ending in -m, others in -ǫ in the

    The ending -m appeared with the so-called athematic verbs (stems with no thematic vowel). The ending -ǫ appeared with the so-called thematic verbs (stems with a thematic vowel, e/o or i). In Serbian the ending -m was generalised to all verbs except hteti and moći, which were two of the most common thematic verbs. This was triggered by the fact that some of the most common verbs jesam, imam, dam, jem "I eat", vem "I know" were athematic. Some dialects, however, still retain the older forms in -u.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2010
  3. Orlin Banned

    Btw, in standard Bulgarian only is used as a 1st p. sg. ending: for verbs with present stem endind in -а/-я (3rd group): гледам, стрелям etc. and in съм, дам, ям and знам (equally acceptable as зная). All the rest have -а/-я ending in 1st p. sg. because the -ǫ reflex in standard Bulgarian is ъ, which is always written а (or я after soft consonants) at the end of native words.
  4. DenisBiH

    DenisBiH Senior Member

    According to Matasović, late Proto-Slavic had only 5 verbs with athematic conjugation in the present tense.

    Edit: I just realized phosphore cited all 5 above.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2010
  5. phosphore Senior Member

    In Serbian the ending -m is said to have been spread to the verbs with the stem ending in -a first (13th century). Later on it spread to other verbs too (15th century). For some time the new ending -m was in concurrence with the old ending -u, until it became extinct in the majority of dialects (17th century).
  6. Orlin Banned

    It's interesting that some Western Bulgarian dialects have (almost) always -м ending for 1st p. sg., so they evolved in the same way as Serbian did.
  7. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    Slovene, like Serbian, generalised the "-m" ending, while in Czech significantly more irregularity remained: so there was some levelling of endings in some Slavic languages (in Slovene this levelling extends to all verb categories - so it's even more "radical" than BCS here!) while others had much less of it.
  8. Azori

    Azori Senior Member

    In Slovak the ending is always -m:

    ja chcem (I want)
    ja môžem (I can)
    ja viem (I know)


    já chci
    já mohu
    já vím
  9. marco_2 Senior Member

    In Polish, apart from the 5 verbs with athematic conjugation, a lot of verbs adopted the ending -m instead of the old one with nasal -o or -e, so in the oldest sources you can find both versions even in one text, e.g. *przysięga / przysięgam (I swear), *wylewa / wylewam (I pour), so now our 3rd conjugation is extended by a lot of verbs which former belonged to other conjugations.
  10. ilocas2 Banned

    Some verbs have only -u ending (já jdu, jedu, beru, pletu, nesu, čtu, lžu ...)

    Some verbs have only -m ending (já dělám, vařím, kouřím, vidím, myslím, slyším, stojím ...)

    Some verbs have 2 patterns of declination (já hážu/házím, koušu/kousám, koupu/koupám, skáču/skákám, řežu/řezám ...) and both are normally used, some have 2 patterns but only -m ending is normally used

    Some verbs with -u ending can have also -i ending, but this ending is used mostly only in written texts (já kupuju/kupuji, píšu/píši, piju/piji ...)

    Some verbs can have all three endings (já lížu/lízám/líži) but -i ending is not normally used

    The verb "chtít" has only -i ending - "chci" in standard Czech, but people in Moravia say "chcu"

    Nowadays the form "můžu" is more frequent than "mohu"
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2010
  11. Orlin Banned

    Marco_2, your 3rd conjugation is like ours: -a stems, isn't it?
  12. Sobakus Senior Member

    A very interesting thread, and I wonder where that Czech -i ending comes from?
  13. Arath Senior Member

    Many western Bulgarian dialects are like that, but they are separated in two groups.

    The north-western dialects are exactly like Serbian, they don't use the endings with the old nasal vowels, they use what used to be the first-person-plural forms: берем (berem), мислим (mislim).

    The south-western dialects still use the endings with the old nasal vowels, but they have also added a final м (m) to them: берам (beram), мислам (mislam), so that all three conjugations look exactly the same in first person singular: берам (beram) , мислам (mislam), имам (imam). This is not the case in standard Bulgarian: бера (bera), мисля (mislya), имам (imam) or the north-western Bulgarian dialects берем (berem), мислим (mislim), имам (imam).
  14. bibax Senior Member

    Czech (Prague)
    It was caused by the lax pronunciation of the medieval Czechs living in the central Bohemian region. They were lazy to change the position of the tongue too often and developed the so-called Bohemian (or Prague) umlaut which is quite unique among the Slavic languages. This umlaut was never completely adopted in Moravia. As the Prague dialect became the Literary language this umlaut is (or rather was) obligatory in the written texts and formal occassions.

    The Prague umlaut:

    a -> ě (and later -> e after consonants that lost the palatalization)
    a: -> ě: (and later -> i: )
    u -> i
    u: -> i:

    The change occurred
    1) if a soft (palatal/palatalized/sibilant) consonant preceded the back vowels a/a:/u/u: at the end of words;
    2) if the back vowels a/a:/u/u: were surrounded by soft consonants.

    The rule is almost completely without any exceptions.

    duša -> dušě (and later duše);
    dušu -> duši;
    učiteľu -> učiteli;
    mořa (< *morja) -> moře;
    píšu -> píši (I write);
    píšú -> píší (they write);
    sáz'ati (< *sa:djati > сажать) -> sázěti -> sázeti;
    sáz'ám' -> sáziem (ie = long ě) -> sázím;
    sáz'ajú -> sázějí -> sázejí;
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2010
  15. marco_2 Senior Member

    That's right!
  16. Sobakus Senior Member

    Thanks, wow, I wonder how they communicated with the surrounding regions' speakers! :O Didn't that -i ending in such words as píši coincide with the imperative?
  17. vianie Senior Member

    No: já píši - ty piš!

    But unlike Slovak, Czech has retained the imperative ending -i in words: príď! - přijdi!, iď! - jdi!, zíď! - sejdi!, but vojdi! - vejdi! and vyjdi! = vyjdi!

    Slovak has retained the imperative -i in one-syllabic verbs with "i" in infinitive: chci! (chcieť), bi! (biť), vezmi! (vziať), and on and on.
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2010
  18. bibax Senior Member

    Czech (Prague)
    Yes, the imperative ending -i mostly disappeared, or rather changed into the soft yer (in the terms of the Russian grammar). So the 1st pers. sing. pres. ind. cannot be mistaken for the imperative.
  19. ilocas2 Banned

    Well, I dare to say that in the corresponding verbs, -u ending in 1 person singular is in the spoken language much more frequent than the -i ending in the whole area of Czech Republic (I'm 100% sure in the case of Prague) except "chci". The same for 3 person plural - -ou is more frequent than -í. It's possible that there was some regressive sound shift restricted for these endings.
  20. WannaBeMe

    WannaBeMe Senior Member

    Serbian (ijekavian)
    I actually thought that -i apears in Czech whenever other have -ju.

    Its like kupuju = kupuji but not mohu = mohi.
  21. nonik Senior Member

    In old czech there was ending "u" except jsem, dám, jím
    so there were saying ja dělaju, on dělaje, dělajem, dělajete, dělaju
    later during the time the syllable "aje" change into mere "á"
    dělaješ=děláš, dělaje=dělá, dělajeme=děláme, dělajete=děláte
    the first person "já dělám" instead ja dělaju was starting to be saying according to already used word dám.
  22. Sobakus Senior Member

    Well j is palatal and h isn't, so it conforms to the rule kindly described by bibax.
  23. WannaBeMe

    WannaBeMe Senior Member

    Serbian (ijekavian)
    But thats the point. Palatalization happens because of the j.
    Thus everywhere ju ending occurs. So I would say that actually ju changes to ji and not u to i because it deosnt work without j.

    For example chcu is actually chtju and chtju>chtji>chci
    ližu is actually lizju>lizji>liži but when its -u alone without -j- than it stays -u like in mohu.

    Actually we think the same only from different perspectives.
  24. bibax Senior Member

    Czech (Prague)
    The Bohemian umlaut is documented from 12th to 14th century when the palatalization zj > ž, sj > š, dj > z' (ž), kj > č etc. was already finished.

    lizju (lizati) -> ližu, already in Common Slavic and Old Slavonic ("u" is nasal "o", of course);

    ližu -> liži, Central Bohemia in cca 13-14th century;

    So your sequence (lizju > lizji > liži) is not correct.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2010
  25. WannaBeMe

    WannaBeMe Senior Member

    Serbian (ijekavian)
    Let it be, I didnt mean about that lizji ever occured in the language but was telling that this change occured only where ju was present, even the j from ju is a part of the palatalized consonant.

    I am assume that this change ju-ji, ja-je happens to occure in declension endings too. Is that correct?
  26. bibax Senior Member

    Czech (Prague)
    Yes. For example:

    nom. sing. čáša -> čiešě -> číše (= cup, goblet);
    acc. sing. čášu -> čiešu -> čieši -> číši;

    The á in the root is between č and š, the ending -a and -u are after š.
  27. vianie Senior Member

    I am quite curious how the old Czech word "čiešě" could have sounded like.
    Hope not being too off-topic.
  28. bibax Senior Member

    Czech (Prague)
    (The first sound was recorded in a visual form in 1857 and replayed in 2008 by means of computer).

    ie stands for long yat, e.g. OCS iměti -> OCz. jmieti -> Cz. míti = to have;
    ě stands for short yat, e.g. OCS směti -> Cz. směti = to may;

    In Old Czech both yats caused palatalization of the previous consonant.

    So imagine palatalized č and š, open e, trochee foot (long stressed - short unstressed), something like č'ä:š'ä . But who knows.

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