Ostatni

bogdan50972

Member
Russian - Ukraine, Kiev
Why this adjective has the ending -i but not -y in the singular while n is a hard consonant? Is it exception?
 
  • zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    As a native speaker I have no idea what you are taking and asking about. I am now trying to think of some examples of the endings of adjectives and indeed we say 'pierwszy' but 'drugi'. I thought we just say so and would never imagine there are any rules.
     

    WesołaBiedronka

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I've never heard of such rule. But now that I think of it it seems to be about right. There are also średni, dostatni, uprzedni, pośredni

    And I don't want to make things complicated but stricte speaking there is no consonant "n" in this word. The last consonant in "ostatni" is /ɲ/ and in spelling it's represented by either "ń" or "ni". But this is a detail you may be concerned with if you study polish philology or something :p
     

    jasio

    Senior Member
    Perhaps just not very precise - or simply taken out of context.

    Indeed, it's fairly difficult and somewhat unnatural for us to pronounce "i" after a hard consonant (such as 'n-i' without palatalisation) and "y" after a soft one ("ńy"). The issue is, according to the Polish ortography, the letter "i" is one of two available ways of marking soft consonants, and before this vowel consonansts are replaced by their soft counterparts in pronunciation. Some consonants are softened only in this context, and do not even have alternative way of spelling (unlike 'ć', 'dź', 'ń', 'ś', 'ź', which may also be pronounced softly before consonants), so many speakers even do not notice this phenomenon. Only a few consonants (cz, sz, dż, ż*, and r according to some sources) do not have their soft counterparts and thus are virtually never followed by "i". So even, if this rule is formally correct, it's pretty useless in practical applications. Perhaps it was originally used in the context of rendering correct pronunciation, rather than ortography.

    *) the fun part of it is that although in Polish "ć", "ś" and their voiced counterparts "dź", "ź" are considered soft versions of "c", "s", "dz" and "z", actually they are pronounced as highly softened versions of "cz", "sz", "dż" and "ż" - compare pronunciaton of similar sounds in Russian.
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    the fun part of it is that although in Polish "ć", "ś" and their voiced counterparts "dź", "ź" are considered soft versions of "c", "s", "dz" and "z", actually they are pronounced as highly softened versions of "cz", "sz", "dż" and "ż" - compare pronunciaton of similar sounds in Russian.
    That's a very strange statement. What is it based on?
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Why this adjective has the ending -i but not -y in the singular while n is a hard consonant? Is it exception?
    It is the other way round. The "n" is a hard consonant because it is followed by an "y". When "n" is followed by an "i" then "n" becomes a "soft" consonant "ń".
    It is always the following vowel that influences the preceding consonant, not the reverse.
    By the way, "soft" (consonant) is a translation of the Polish term "miękki" (the same in Russian), and is rather not used in English. In English "palatal" is the correct word.
     

    Lorenc

    Senior Member
    Italian
    It is the other way round. The "n" is a hard consonant because it is followed by an "y". When "n" is followed by an "i" then "n" becomes a "soft" consonant "ń".
    It is always the following vowel that influences the preceding consonant, not the reverse.
    This seems a chicken-and-egg problem to me! That is: in the adjective ostatni, is the 'n' soft because it is followed by 'i', or is 'i' used because the preceding consonant is soft? Perhaps it is wiser to just avoid this impasse and say that, according to Polish phonotactics (=the set of rules determining the possible sequences of phonemes in a language) only the following two sequences of sounds are possible: /ɲi/, which is spelt <ni>, and /nɨ/, which is spelt <ny>. Conversely, the sequences of sounds /ɲɨ/ and /ni/ are never found in Polish words; although never found, the former sequence might be spelt <ńy>, whereas there is no way to unambiguously spell /ni/ using Polish orthography. As a result a word may end in <-ni> or in <-ny>, but never in the 'forbidden' sequence <ńy>.
    Stated in this way we don't have to investigate where "the soft n came first" or "the i came first" :)

    By the way, "soft" (consonant) is a translation of the Polish term "miękki" (the same in Russian), and is rather not used in English. In English "palatal" is the correct word.
    In my experience the terms soft/hard are preferentially used in English when speaking about Slavic languages, to conform with their grammatical terminology; for other languages other terms might be used, e.g. broad/slender for Irish. In my experience the terms palatalized/unpalatalized are used by academic texts (i.e., not by textbooks for generic foreign language learners) when discussing the phonology of a language, but generally they aren't used when discussing grammar (e.g., which case endings to use).
     

    jasio

    Senior Member
    This seems a chicken-and-egg problem to me! That is: in the adjective ostatni, is the 'n' soft because it is followed by 'i', or is 'i' used because the preceding consonant is soft?
    A clear rule exists that i written after a consonant makes it soft, if the consonant has a soft counterpart. It's as clear as rules of pronouncing 'c' before vowels in Italian.
    there is no way to unambiguously spell /ni/ using Polish orthography.
    Let me think. ... "n'i", "n-i", "nji"...
    If there was a need, there would be a solution. But, as you noted yourself, there's no need. Even in case of foreign common names, the Poles would usually convert n to ń in this position as it's easier to pronounce.

    A side note: I remember that long ago, when I was learning a Slovak song, I was told that y and i letters were pronounced the same in Slovak, as "i", but they differed in softening or non softening the preceding consonant. So "sni" (a verb) would be pronounced as in Polish, while "sny" (a noun) - as "sn-i".
     

    Lorenc

    Senior Member
    Italian
    A clear rule exists that i written after a consonant makes it soft, if the consonant has a soft counterpart. It's as clear as rules of pronouncing 'c' before vowels in Italian.
    Yes, but the rule "i softens the preceding consonants" is merely a spelling rule; if Polish used a different orthography (or a different alphabet, or if it weren't written at all) it'd still be Polish but this rule would just vanish into thin air. Living languages are primarily oral phenomena (and they have been uniquely oral phenomena for tens of hundreds of years), so I don't value a spelling rule as a 'deep' rule about a language. My point is that, given the adjective 'ostatni' and prescinding from its spelling, I don't think there is a way of deciding whether 'there is a /ɲ/ and not a /n/ because the last sound is /i/' vs 'the last sound is /i/ and not /ɨ/ because the preceding sound is /ɲ/'; in fact, I suspect that on historic-etymological ground the latter version might be preferable (compare with the Moscow school of Russian phonetics which treats и and ы -- corresponding to Polish i and y -- as allophones of a single phoneme, and stipulates that it is the hardness/softness of the preceding consonant which determines whether the phoneme will be realised as /i/ or /ɨ/.

    the Poles would usually convert n to ń in this position as it's easier to pronounce.
    I think you must add: as it's easier to pronounce for them (because they are not used to pronouncing the sound /ni/). :)

    On comparison of "ć" and "ś" pronunciation in Polish versus Russian "ць", "сь", and "ч".
    Russian doesn't have a soft-/ts/ "ць" sound, though...
     

    jasio

    Senior Member
    the fun part of it is that although in Polish "ć", "ś" and their voiced counterparts "dź", "ź" are considered soft versions of "c", "s", "dz" and "z", actually they are pronounced as highly softened versions of "cz", "sz", "dż" and "ż" - compare pronunciaton of similar sounds in Russian.
    That's a very strange statement. What is it based on?
    On comparison of "ć" and "ś" pronunciation in Polish versus Russian "ць", "сь", and "ч".
    Who made this comparison, and where it was published?
    Isn't it enough to just learn the language and make your own observations? :eek:
    But to satisfy my own curiosity, I went to Polish phonology - Wikipedia and Russian phonology - Wikipedia and made a brief comparison. Here's what I've found:
    What Wikipedia also mentiones, is "The distinction between the laminal retroflex sounds (sz, ż, cz, dż) and the corresponding alveolo-palatals (ś, ź, ć, dź) – both of these series sound similar to the English palato-alveolar consonants (the sh and ch sounds and their voiced equivalents)".

    The conclusions are pretty straightforward:
    • Considering pronunciation alone, whatever "ć" is, it's NOT a "soft c", even if it's considered as such by most of the Poles - and such claim has some historical background, because from a structural standpoint "ć" and "ть" are cognates, for example both are suffixes of infitinives.
    • Wikipedia clearly agrees that "ć" is a soft "cz" rather than "soft c".
    :cool:
     

    jasio

    Senior Member
    Yes, but the rule "i softens the preceding consonants" is merely a spelling rule
    Not really.
    Oral "s-i", "c-i", "n-i", etc. sequences do not exist in a spoken Polish - only in some rare loan-words, like "sinus". Perhaps this is the only reason we can save one stroke and write "ci" rather than "ći".

    Living languages are primarily oral phenomena (and they have been uniquely oral phenomena for tens of hundreds of years), so I don't value a spelling rule as a 'deep' rule about a language.
    Yet, with spelling being far more conservative than pronunciation, it preserves some features of the past language, from the times when its users learned how to write the sounds they were pronouncing. After all, a differentiation between "ca" and "ce" in Italian (and similar phenomenons in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese, and perhaps all other Romance languages) is not an arbitrary rule, is it? It's a fossil from the times when "c" was univocally pronounced as /k/ (and /g/) back at the times of classical latin. Then frozen in traditional spelling despite pronunciation changes which occured over almost two millenia.

    My point is that, given the adjective 'ostatni' and prescinding from its spelling, I don't think there is a way of deciding whether 'there is a /ɲ/ and not a /n/ because the last sound is /i/' vs 'the last sound is /i/ and not /ɨ/ because the preceding sound is /ɲ/'; in fact, I suspect that on historic-etymological ground the latter version might be preferable (compare with the Moscow school of Russian phonetics which treats и and ы -- corresponding to Polish i and y -- as allophones of a single phoneme, and stipulates that it is the hardness/softness of the preceding consonant which determines whether the phoneme will be realised as /i/ or /ɨ/.
    I've encountered this theory somewhere. Perhaps it's good for academic disputes. I think I've even found some counter-examples, but I can't recall them right away. Albeit... a Slovak "sni" vs. "sny", which I mantioned earlier, may serve as a sort of counter example, right? Anyway, for a language learner it's still like counting angels dancing on a head of a pin.
     

    jasio

    Senior Member
    I've had an afterthought about your phrase:
    compare with the Moscow school of Russian phonetics which treats и and ы -- corresponding to Polish i and y -- as allophones of a single phoneme, and stipulates that it is the hardness/softness of the preceding consonant which determines whether the phoneme will be realised as /i/ or /ɨ/.
    Natural language is a phenomenon which is not controlled by the linguists, but only described by them. And they are quite free to use any terms they want to describe their observations. For example, you may consider Polish as having three tenses (present, past and future - the latter in two variants, one for perfective verbs, and the other - for imperfective), but you can cosider them to be past, non-past (which only semantically has a present meaning with imperfective verbs and future meaning with perfective verbs), and additional compound future tense for imperfective verbs. It would not work in Polish, but recently I've heard an opinion denying existance of future tense in English, and claiming that it's a modal construction in the present tense. "stare/estar" + gerundio in Italian and Spanish is considered a grammatical construction, while in English it has a status of a tense.

    So the descriptions may vary depending in specific objectives of a the particular description and in a sense all of them may be factually correctect. The issue is: what they actually bring from a practical perspective - for both the native speakers, and for L2 learners?
     

    Lorenc

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Russian doesn't have a soft-/ts/ "ць" sound, though...
    It does, albeit only in loanwords.
    Please excuse my insistence, but I don't think unadapted loanwords really count :). I think you may be referring to Russian phonology - Wikipedia , in particular to the note on /ts/, which says that
    "certain foreign proper names, including those of Ukrainian, Polish, Lithuanian, or German origin (e.g. Цюрупа, Пацюк, Цявловский, Цюрих), as well as loanwords (e.g., хуацяо, from Chinese) contain a soft [t͡sʲ]."
    This seems to be a controversial claim. As the Wikipedia article then says, Yanushevskaya and Bunčić in their article on Russian phonetics (published as part of the 'Illustration of the IPA' series on the Journal of the International Phonetic Association) state that " The affricate [ts]
    has no palatalised counterpart in the system of consonants, and its palatalisation, although evident in some regional accents of Russian, is considered emphatically non-standard."
    This matter has been discussed before, see e.g.:
    -тся (pronunciation)
    нравится / нравиться ( pronounciation)
    The conclusion of these discussion is that soft ць is not part of standard Russian; in fact, the thread ukrainian: pronunciation of palatalised affricates ц дз
    mentions that the Ukrainian word паляни́ця "has been a well-known shibboleth to identify Russians whose ц is always hard."
    Natural language is a phenomenon which is not controlled by the linguists, but only described by them. [...] So the descriptions may vary depending in specific objectives of a the particular description and in a sense all of them may be factually correct. The issue is: what they actually bring from a practical perspective - for both the native speakers, and for L2 learners?
    Yes, you're right in pointing out that, from a practical perspective (e.g., for a language learner) it makes sense to introduce the rule 'an i softens the preceding vowel'. It is a rule which, given a written word, tells you how to read it. Nothing wrong with that.
    However, as a theoretical point, I raised an objection to the comment by Ben Jamin saying that
    When "n" is followed by an "i" then "n" becomes a "soft" consonant "ń". It is always the following vowel that influences the preceding consonant, not the reverse.
    This comment sets up a cause-and-effect relation between the presence of 'i' in the orthography and softness of the preceding consonant, and it is with this causal relationship I'm taking issue with. Namely, I don't think one can say that it is definitely the vowel which influences the softness of the preceding consonant and not vice versa; in fact, we may find what may be considered counterexamples in Russian. Russian orthography dictates that one should write жи, ши (never жы, шы) and also permits ци although the 'и' is pronounced as 'ы' in these cases. One might argue that the consonants ж, ш, ц were once soft, then hardened (=lost palatal character) and therefore changed the sound of the following vowel; conservative Russian orthography still reflects the obsolete pronunciation.
    In any case I agree that all this discussion is irrelevant from a practical point of view :)

    that although in Polish "ć", "ś" and their voiced counterparts "dź", "ź" are considered soft versions of "c", "s", "dz" and "z", actually they are pronounced as highly softened versions of "cz", "sz", "dż" and "ż" - compare pronunciaton of similar sounds in Russian.
    Concerning Polish ć and ś (etc) I don't think, IMHO, that one can say with definiteness that they are soft versions of consonants X or Y. Certainly, at an impressionistic level, one might consider ć (for example) a very much softened version of /t/, /t͡s/ (c) or even, as you suggest, /t͡ʂ/ (cz); however I think it is correct to say that consonant Y is the soft version of consonant X only when both X and Y have the same phonetic features (same place of articulation, manner of articulation, voicing, length...) but with the difference that Y is pronounced with the tongue closer to the hard palate than X. This is not the quite case for ć when compared with t, ts, cz, as it differs not only by the degree of palatalization but also in other details. Personally I'd say that ć is closest to a softened /t͡ʃ/ (English ch of 'cheese'), then to a soft /t͡s/, then to a soft /t/ and only in the last place to a soft /t͡ʂ/ (cz), as the place of articulation is very different in ć vs. cz. Quot capita, tot sententiae ;)
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    This comment sets up a cause-and-effect relation between the presence of 'i' in the orthography and softness of the preceding consonant, and it is with this causal relationship I'm taking issue with. Namely, I don't think one can say that it is definitely the vowel which influences the softness of the preceding consonant and not vice versa; in fact, we may find what may be considered counterexamples in Russian. Russian orthography dictates that one should write жи, ши (never жы, шы) and also permits ци although the 'и' is pronounced as 'ы' in these cases. One might argue that the consonants ж, ш, ц were once soft, then hardened (=lost palatal character) and therefore changed the sound of the following vowel; conservative Russian orthography still reflects the obsolete pronunciation.
    In any case I agree that all this discussion is irrelevant from a practical point of view :)
    My comment concerned only Polish. I am aware that in many (most?) languages the "I" dooes'nt palatalize the preceding vowel, for example Spanish distinguishes between "teñia" and "tenia", which is impossible in Polish.
     

    jasio

    Senior Member
    Please excuse my insistence, but I don't think unadapted loanwords really count :)
    Considering that a /nasal a/ in loanwords like 'awans', 'anse', etc., is considered a valid member of a Polish vowel system, I would dispute with this claim, but indeed, let the Russians decide, what is and what is not a valid part of their mothertongue. ;-)

    I think you may be referring to Russian phonology - Wikipedia
    I wrote it quite openly, didn't I?

    Namely, I don't think one can say that it is definitely the vowel which influences the softness of the preceding consonant and not vice versa
    The question is not however, whether a soft consonant rules pronunciation of the succeeding vowel (or vice versa), but whether Polish /i/ and /y/ are in fact allophones or two separate vowels. And this is, in fact, controversial: Fonem – Wikipedia, wolna encyklopedia, albeit they are typically distinguished one from the other: Diagram samogłoskowy – Wikipedia, wolna encyklopedia.

    In any case I agree that all this discussion is irrelevant from a practical point of view :)
    ;-)

    I think it is correct to say that consonant Y is the soft version of consonant X only when both X and Y have the same phonetic features (same place of articulation, manner of articulation, voicing, length...) but with the difference that Y is pronounced with the tongue closer to the hard palate than X.
    Not being a trained linguist, I can't argue with that on professional grounds. However being a native speaker of a language in which the whole consonant system is strongly built around a hard-soft opposition (just as it is built around a voiced-voiceless opposition), an L2 learner of Russian which I started learning in childhood, and having a grasp of a few other Slavic languages, I have a gut feeling that your definition is somewhat too mechanical.

    Quot capita, tot sententiae ;)
    Albo "gdzie dwóch Polaków, tam trzy zdania". ;-)
    But considering that you're Italian, we can stay with the Latin version indeed. ;-)
     
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