Ukrainian: facultative animacy for masculine nouns

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Lorenc

Senior Member
Italian
I have read that some Ukrainian inanimate nouns, such as лист, can optionally take singular-accusative in -а, i.e. they are treated gramatically as animate nouns, e.g. він написав листа instead of він написав лист.
In this question I'll call this feature 'facultative animacy', although sometimes the same phenomenon is explained by saying that the object of the verb is in the genitive instead of accusative.
I would like to know more about facultative animacy is in Ukrainian. Are there a lot of nouns such as лист? Do such nouns belong to specific classes with common meanings? What is the perceived stylistic charge (if any) of facultative animacy?
 
  • jazyk

    Senior Member
    Brazílie, portugalština
    If it is anything like Polish, the -a form is colloquial when the usual accusative is also possible. In Polish the -a is common with some tools, sports, and instruments, to name a few.
     

    Ruukr

    Senior Member
    Odessa, Russian - Ukrainian
    I would like to know more about facultative animacy is in Ukrainian.
    У данному випадку треба писати - він написав листа.
    Факультативна бездушність - це якась нісенітниця - цього навіть вчителям не викладають.
    Це однаково - не в родовому, а в знахідному - він написав листа, він показав хвоста, і т.і. - це знахідний.
    Якщо Ви десь чули - він написав лист - то це є русизм (це так визначається).
     

    Lorenc

    Senior Member
    Italian
    У данному випадку треба писати - він написав листа.
    [...]
    Якщо Ви десь чули - він написав лист - то це є русизм (це так визначається).
    Ok!

    Факультативна бездушність - це якась нісенітниця - цього навіть вчителям не викладають.
    "Facultative animacy" (Факультативна душність) is the name given to a similar construction in Polish (see, e..g., pag. 79 of A Grammar of contemporary Polish by O. Swan.), and that's why I referred to it in this way in this question.

    Це однаково - не в родовому, а в знахідному - він написав листа, він показав хвоста, і т.і. - це знахідний.
    As I wrote in my question, I'm aware that 'він написав листа'-type constructions in Ukrainian are explained away by saying that the noun is in the genitive case instead of accusative. By in that case one should also expect genitive to be used for feminine or neuter nouns, but ASAIK you cannot say він написав одніэї книги but only він написав одну книгу.
    In any case my question is: which verbs and noun combinations admit or require a 'він написав листа'-type construction?
     

    Ruukr

    Senior Member
    Odessa, Russian - Ukrainian
    As I wrote in my question, I'm aware that 'він написав листа'-type constructions in Ukrainian are explained away by saying that the noun is in the genitive case instead of accusative. By in that case one should also expect genitive to be used for feminine or neuter nouns, but ASAIK you cannot say він написав одніэї книги but only він написав одну книгу.
    In any case my question is: which verbs and noun combinations admit or require a 'він написав листа'-type construction?
    Питання дивне.
    ЇЇ - це займенник -вона в родовому відмінку.
     

    Lorenc

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Thanks, that helps. The relevant passage is:
    В винительном падеже единственного числа одушевленные имена существительные имеют форму родительного падежа, неодушевленные существительные имеютформу именительного падежа. Следует отметить, что некоторые существительные, обозначающие названия бытовых предметов, могут иметь окончания родительного падежа: написав лист (пичьмо) и написав листа, узяв ніж и узяв ножа, поклав олівець (карандаш) и поклав олівця. Такие формы широко употребительны в разговорной речи, но не используются в научном стиле.
    English translation (by myself):
    In the accusative-singular case, animate nouns have a form identical to the genitive case, while inanimate nouns have a form identical to the nominative case. It should be noted that some nouns denoting household items can have a form identical to the genitive case: написав лист and написав листа [(...) wrote a letter], узяв ніж and узяв ножа [(...) took a knife], поклав олівець and поклав олівця [(...) put down a pencil]. Such forms are widely used in colloquial speech, but are not used in academic style.
    So it would seem that it is 'household items' which are likely to be used with a -a ending. This is useful information but still extremely vague.
     

    Lorenc

    Senior Member
    Italian
    A PDF about it.
    Thank you very much, that's exactly what a was looking for!!!! :thank you: :thank you: :thank you:
    I need some time to digest it all. The situation seems to be very complicated (as it is in Polish, which has an analogous structure).
     

    Saley

    Senior Member
    Russian, Ukrainian
    There is also співа́ти пісе́нь ‘to sing songs’ with a plural noun whose singular пісня is feminine.
     
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