What is the origin, history of the Polish feminine plural Dative ending -om?

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Encolpius

Senior Member
Hungarian
Dear Members, I am a little bit perplexed by the ending -om in Polish words like kobietom, ulicom, nogom. It reminds me of masculine nouns. Is it just simple nothing to mention and talk about it or is there a story or soemthing? I know Czech and Russian, they use -ám, just like in instrumental or locative (ách, ami). What is your impession? Thank you in advance and have a productive evening. Enco.
 
  • ahvalj

    Senior Member
    The a-containing endings originate from the a-stems. O-stems previously had -omъ, -y, -ěхъ (more or less continued in modern Czech). Polish generalized -om from the o-stems but -ami and -ach from the a-stems.

    Update. Czech alone retains the old distinctions between stem types: all the other Slavic languages have more or less merged the types in the plural (or used the resulting doublets for different semantic groups of words).
     
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    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    I have no idea what a-stems & o-stems means. Do you mean nouns were classified according the stems and not the gender?
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    Yes, nouns were not classified according to the gender.
    In Russian, for example, the words мужчина “man” and женщина “woman” are still declined absolutely identically, and so was the previous state of affairs in all Slavic languages. In Ukrainian, людина “man” even is grammatically feminine and takes the pronoun вона “she”.​
    Roughly speaking, words ending now in -a are (former) a-stems, while masculine words now ending in consonants and most neuters are (former) o-stems. They belonged historically to different declension types with their particular endings.

    In various Slavic languages over the course of the last 10+ centuries there was a strong tendency towards diminishing this diversity and creating more unified endings. In literary Czech, it developed the least (other than some rearrangement according to gender, so that words like hrdina now have non-a-stem endings in the dative-locative singular and in the plural: historically, hrdinovi, hrdinové, hrdinů and hrdinech are former u-stem endings, hrdinům and instrumental hrdiny, former o-stem endings, and the accusative hrdiny goes back to both u-, o- and a-stem endings; the singular hrdina, hrdiny, hrdinu, hrdinou and hrdino retain their original a-stem endings; such a mess).
     

    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Interesting information. But still, the Polish declension looks like this in plural:
    kobiety
    kobiet
    kobietom
    kobiety
    kobietach
    kobietami
    So, for me, dilettante totale, the kobietom is the black sheep of the family, why is the whole declension feminine, only Dative is masculine, is that a common phenomen in Slavic languages or do you see it in a different way?
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    Because you look at this from the Czech viewpoint, where there are separate žena — ženám, ženami, ženách and pán — pánům, pány, pánech (which reflects the original Slavic distinction): in Polish there is only one combined type, where in the plural żona — żonom, żonami, żonach and pan — panom, panami, panach decline absolutely identically, with the ending -om taken historically from the o-stems (original masculines in your terminology) and -ami, -ach historically from the a-stems (original feminines in your terminology), so there is no masculine/feminine distinction in Polish or Russian nowadays in these grammatical cases in the plural, it's all the same now.
     

    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Because you look at this from the Czech viewpoint....
    ....so there is no masculine/feminine distinction in Polish or Russian nowadays in these grammatical cases in the plural, it's all the same now.
    Yes, of course. The only Slavic languages I know well. :)
    But Russian has very similar forms to Czech, no? Can you write any example for "mixed" declension, I cannot remember now, in Russian?
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    Russian has generalized this a for all declensions in the plural (that is all nouns now have -am, without variants), so for a Czech speaker the a for masculines and neuters should look as weird, isn't it? Consider Slovak, where masculines retain o, but neuters (mestám, mestami, mestách) and former i-stems, now consonant-ending feminines (kostiam, kosťami, kostiach) have also acquired a, thus midway between Czech and Russian.

    In Belarusian, there are dialectally two endings for the dative plural: in some dialects (and in the modern standard language) -am is chosen, in other dialects (and in the anti-Russian standard language), -om is chosen (of course, for all three genders).
     

    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Very interesting comments, ahvalj. :thumbsup:
    That Slovak - Czech - mestám - městům is fascinating, too.
    Do you agree, it might sound chauvinistic, that Czech has the purest (or what to call it) declension? :)
    Now I recalled the Croatian plural instrumental, they have ženom, too, I got confused then, too.
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    Yes, Czech preserves the types the best among modern Slavic languages, though the amount of mutations in vowels is the largest: the old rather straightforward system has become quite complicated.

    Croatian ženom is instrumental singular (that's the former masculine/neuter ending), while the dative/instrumental/locative plural is ženama (that's the former dative/instrumental dual), at least in the standard language.
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    The split of originally uniform vowels depending on their new length and on following a hard or soft consonant, e. g. the endings in ženám, ženami, duším and dušemi until the end of the 1st millennium had the same uniform vowel á (*ženámъ, *ženámí, *dúšʲámъ, *dúšʲámí), which shortened in the instrumental plural and fronted after a palatal consonant, the short and long fronted variant later having diverged in quality.
     

    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Yes, yes. I see now! Reading some articles about older Czech long ago I had the feeling old Czech was more similar to Slovak or Russian. But I know really little about the history of Slavic languages.
     

    Zec

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    o- and a-stems are, to my knowledge, usually well kept apart in most Western South Slavic dialects, including standard Slovene and BCMS, despite the latter having innovative endings in Dat/Loc/Inst plural. Not in all dialects, though: Kajkavian tends to do the same thing Slovak does, or a compromise between that and the original state of affairs.
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    As a side note, Czech seems to be the only language preserving — in the singular — the consonant declension, compare:
    dětęte > dítěte
    dětęti > dítěti
    dětętьmь > dítětem
    dětęti > dítěti (unlike what Wiktionary implies, the i-ending did exist in Late Common Slavic along with e).​

    That has became possible because Czech had developed other subtypes with fronted endings, so the paradigm didn't begin to look as isolated as in other languages, yet formally the present-day singular is the exact phonetic continuation of that old declension type.
     

    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    I found it strange there are mixed paradigms until realizing the Czech declension of "hrdina" seems to be mixed, too.
    hrdina
    hrdiny - feminine
    hrdinovi - masculine
    hrdinou - feminine
    while the Slovak is completely masculine.
    So maybe we could find more exampels of that mixed declensions.
     

    Lorenc

    Senior Member
    Italian
    The situation in old-Polish was similar to modern Czech, with distinct -om /-am suffixes for masculine/feminine nouns.
    For example:
    "uczyńmy człowieka ku obliczu a ku podobieństwu naszemu, aby panował rybam morskim a ptakom, jeżto latają pod stworzeniem niebieskim"
    "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air"
    Bible of Queen Sophia, ca. 1433

    A -em ending was also used for (some?) soft-stemmed nouns, in particular in ludziem (modern Polish ludziom, to people).
    According to S. Westfal in "The Polish language" in the 15th and 16th centuries both -om and -am began being used for nouns of the "wrong" gender (eg -am for masculine and neuter nouns), but by the beginning of the 17th century -om prevailed for all genders.
     
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