All Slavic languages: Dual forms for numbers

Whodunit

Senior Member
Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
Moderator note: I want the thread to receive attention of all Slavic speaker. It was originally a Czech question, but I decided to change the name and treat Czech just as a case study. Jana

Recently, I read that Czech and other Slavic languages lost their dual forms in the Middle Age. Yesterday, I've been taught that there's still one "rest dual form", namely "-ové" for masculine proper names. Furthermore, they should not only work for the duality, but also for three and four persons. :)

Today, I discovered something more fascinating. When I tried to learn Czech numbers, I realized there's something special with the Czech words for "two/three/four thousand" in contrast to "one/five/six/... thousand":

dva tisíce (one thousand)
tři tisíce (three thousand)
čtyři tisíce (four thousand)

tisíc (one thousand)
pět tisíc (five thousand)
šest tisíc (six thousand)

Is the extra "-e" a remnant of the old dual form? I also wonder why there's no plural form for "tisíc", as I can find in the Czech forms for "million" and "hundred" (the hundred series is yet more difficult :)):

dva milióny (two million)
tři milióny (three million)
čtyři milióny (four million)

milión (one million)
pět miliónů (five million)
šest miliónů (six million)

Now it seems that there is a singular form (no ending), dual form (-y) and plural form (-ů). Strange, isn't it? And there's yet another mystery:

dvě stě (two hundred)
tři sta (three hundred)
čtyři sta (four hundred)

sto (one hundred)
pět set (five hundred)
šest set (six hundred)

What a mystery is that? Let me compile what I can see: There's a form for singular (-o), dual (-ě), trial/quadral (-a), plural (stem shifting from st to se + ending t). How wrong is that? :)

I think that's enough stuff to think about. ;)

By the way, the same goes for the "-ty" series, too:

dvacet (twenty)
třicet (thirty)
čtyřicet (forty)

deset (ten)
padesát (fifty)
šedesát (sixty)

Isn't this curious? Singular: -set (may be an exception); dual/trial/quadral: -cet; plural: -sát

Předem děkuji mnohokrát za veškeré odpovědi. :)
 
  • Jana337

    Senior Member
    čeština
    I have to disappoint you - what you think could be remnants of dual is actually a genuine plural.

    A distinctive feature of Slavic languages (I think other forum members can confirm that) is the way we bind numerals and plurals.
    1 is followed by singular, logically
    2-4 are followed by plural
    5 and higher - followed by plural, but in genitive

    So (strom - tree):
    1 strom
    2 stromy
    3 stromy
    4 stromy
    5 stromů
    6 stromů
    atd.
    (NB: it is correct to say 32 stromy, 193 stromy etc., but it sounds somewhat stilted in spoken Czech and almost everyone uses the genitive)

    That is, we say: 5 of trees - analogically, you would say "thousands of protesters" in English.

    Obviously, what holds for trees holds for hundreds, thousands and millions as well.

    Mystery solved, I think.

    Well, almost: The plural genitiv form for "tisíc" is "tisíců", but for a reason unknown to me we say "tisíc" when it is preceded by another number. I know, it sounds complicated. If it can soothe you, I didn't know it either. I am learning my mother language right now - how exciting! :D

    "Dvě stě" as opposed to "tři sta" is just an exception. Otherwise, 100 follows the same pattern.

    But the dvacet, třicet, čtyřicet, padesát, šedesát thingy is quite embarassing... I have no clue why it is like that. I am disinclined to believe that there is a connection with dual that I refuted above, but the parallel between 2, 3, 4 and 20, 30, 40 is indeed striking.

    I will have to do some research. I sincerely hope that other Slavic speaker come up with reasonable hypotheses.

    Thanks for teaching me Czech! :)

    Jana
     

    DaleC

    Senior Member
    Whodunit asked about inflection for dual number in Czech. There are three or four words whose old dual forms are still used: ear, hand, eye. Obviously, each person has a pair of these.

    Whodunit also wrote:

    1.
    deset (ten)
    padesát (fifty)
    šedesát (sixty)

    This is a missegmentation of these words. Not pade-sát, but pa-desát. It is phonetically unremarkable that a 'd' or 't' sound drops out next to another 'd' or 't' sound. Contrast padesát to osmdesát. After all, compare the Russian cognate: it is p'at'd'es'at, in which the full spelling for the word for '5' survives (but not the full pronunciation, since the t' is left out, or tends to get left out at least). What calls for explanation here is the vowel alternations (i.e., why do we have the alternations deset / desát and pě- / pa-?). I don't know the answer, and 99.9 percent of people would be :arrow:bored to tears by it anyway, or else put to sleep;). Slavicists have traced all the sound shifts from the Proto-Slavic or Common Slavic of ca. 1800 years ago down through all the descendant languages. (Likewise, one can look up how the English and German cognate pairs tooth and zahn, bean and bohne arose from respective common ancestor words.)

    Czech in particular among Slavic languages has very messy patterns of vowel alternation. Slovak is more conservative, i.e., today's Slovak pronunciation is closer to the ancestral Proto-Czech-Slovak language of ca. 900, and its vowel patterns are more regular.

    2. How to explain the seemingly irregular -cet?
    dvacet (twenty)
    třicet (thirty)
    čtyřicet (forty)

    As in the preceding topic, the answer is etymological (having to do with the evolution of words and pronunciations). Two observations: (1) it likely does have to do with how 2, 3, 4 in Slavic take the genitive singular; (2) the answer lies all the way back in Common Slavic. For the same irregularity occurs in the corresponding numerals of modern Russian, which belongs to a different major group of Slavic (there are three major groups in all). Russian uses the cognate suffix -cad' to form the names of 20 and 30, and it uses d'es'at, which is the same as the word for '10' only with a hard final t instead of a soft, to form 50, 60, 70, 80. -cet and -cad' are likely corrupted forms of d'es'at'. (The waters are muddied in Russian by innovations in the words for 40 and 90. Incidentally, Russian puts the word stress for 50 and 60 words on the last syllable, but for 70 and 80 words, the stress is on the first syllable.)

    3.
    dvě stě (two hundred)
    tři sta (three hundred)
    čtyři sta (four hundred)

    sto (one hundred)
    pět set (five hundred)
    šest set (six hundred)

    sto '100' is a neuter noun and dvě is the fem/neut form of '2'. In most Slavic languages, the words for the numerals 1 and 2 inflect for gender.


    A Czech grammar in English, 100+ pages is at
    ~ dot seelrc dot org
    From this home page you can access grammars for nearly all Slavic languages. This reference is already on the forum's list of resources.
     

    Lev Yakupov

    Member
    Russia/Russian
    All what DaleC said belonging to russian is true. I can only add a link to page, where all russian numerals are:
    learningrussian dot com slash numerals dot htm
    And mark out this sentence:
    The waters are muddied in Russian by innovations in the words for 40 and 90
    Yes, indeed, we speak:
    сорок [sO:rok] instead of ctyricet in Czech for fourty,
    and девяносто [devyanO:sto] for ninety.
    They are an exceptions, just compare with that link resource.
    But that's not all ;) Draw attention to last word, which has ~сто (one hundread) in it, instead of ~десять (decade).
    For example:
    девяносто ninety AND девятьсот nine hundreads.
    The difference is actually between two letters но and ть, inresting, eh? :)
     

    Tchesko

    Senior Member
    Czech
    Hello everyone!

    Whodunit said:
    dvě stě (two hundred)
    tři sta (three hundred)
    čtyři sta (four hundred)

    sto (one hundred)
    pět set (five hundred)
    šest set (six hundred)

    "dvě stě" (200) is actually a remnant of a dual form.

    Remainder:
    A few centuries ago, as some of you already mentioned, Czech had a singular, a dual and a plural form. Thus, one would say:

    hand: jedna ruka (sg.) - dvě ruce (dual) - tři/čtyři ruky (pl.) - pět rukou (pl. gen.) etc. (any clue where the "-ou" comes from, by the way?)
    leg: jedna noha - dvě nozě - tři/čtyři nohy - pět nohou...
    town: jedno město - dvě městě - tři/čtyři města - pět měst...

    Example:

    "Ale ti, ktož jsú ty ptáky vídali ustavičně, jistíchu, že nejsú nohové a že nemají žádného podobenstvie zvieřěcího, a že jedno dvě nozě mají jako jiní ptáci."

    Marco Polo, Million (ancient Czech translation), Book 3, Chapter "O velikých ptáciech tuto"
    While for most words, the dual form disappeared, some exceptions still exist (ruce - hands, uši - ears, oči - eyes).

    "stě" is such an exception:

    (jedno) sto - dvě stě - tři/čtyři sta - pět set...

    Voilà!

    Roman
     

    Tobycek

    Senior Member
    England, English
    Recently, I read that Czech and other Slavic languages lost their dual forms in the Middle Age.

    As you may know, there is one Slavonic language that still has a dual form, in regular use in verbs, nouns and adjectives, and that's Slovene.
    To take the same word "tree" in Slovene, it goes:
    1 drevo
    2 drevesi
    3 drevesa
    4 drevesa
    5 dreves
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    I thank you so much for your help and for such wonderful and informative answers. I am glad to have taught Jana some Czech :)D), so that I will go on asking some questions later.

    Tobycek said:
    As you may know, there is one Slavonic language that still has a dual form, in regular use in verbs, nouns and adjectives, and that's Slovene.
    To take the same word "tree" in Slovene, it goes:
    1 drevo
    2 drevesi
    3 drevesa
    4 drevesa
    5 dreves

    Do you mean "tree" or "three"? What do these forms mean? Why have you listed five forms? Sorry, I'm lost ... could you perhaps translate the five words? :)

    Děkuji mnohokrát. (I wish I could say that in all Slavic languages ;))
     

    DaleC

    Senior Member
    1 drevo
    2 drevesi
    3 drevesa
    4 drevesa
    5 dreves

    Whodunit said:
    Do you mean "tree" or "three"? What do these forms mean? Why have you listed five forms?
    Baum, sicher. Deutsch hat vier Fälle, die meisten slawischen sprachen haben mehr 6 oder 7. (Bulgarisch nur 1 oder 2.) Offentsichtlich hat slowenischen fünf (erst jetzt erfahre ich das). Traditionell in der slawischen Sprachenkunde werden die Fällen in dieser Reihenfolge aufgelistet: N G D A L (locativ, ortenfall). In der Deutschkunde, N A D G (der den dem des). Ich hoffe, Tobychek werde uns mehr mitteilen.

    (edit ->) Ich werde mich geirrt haben. Peinlich! Unter diesem fünf Formen wird wahrscheinlich dual und mehrzahl eingeschlossen -- wie Tobychek bereits gesagt hat. Also seien sie nicht alle Kasusformen (Fälle). :eek:
     

    Tobycek

    Senior Member
    England, English
    OK, sorry for not being clear:

    eno drevo = one tree
    dve drevesi = two trees
    tri drevesa = three trees
    štiri drevesa = four trees
    pet dreves = five trees

    DaleC, I don't speak any German, so could you translate for me?
    Especially as you have mentioned my name, I would like to know what you're saying! :)

    Thanks...
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    DaleC said:
    1 drevo
    2 drevesi
    3 drevesa
    4 drevesa
    5 dreves


    Baum, sicher. Deutsch hat vier Fälle, die meisten slawischen Sprachen haben mehr, 6 oder 7. (Bulgarisch nur 1 oder 2.) Offentsichtlich hat das Slowenischen fünf (erst jetzt gerade habe erfahre ich das erfahren). Traditionell werden in der slawischen Sprachenkunde die Fällen in dieser Reihenfolge aufgelistet: N G D A L (locativ, ortenfall). In der Deutschkunde, N A D G (der den dem des). Ich hoffe, Tobychek werde wird uns mehr mitteilen.

    (edit ->) Ich werde mich geirrt haben. Peinlich! Unter diesen fünf Formen werden wahrscheinlich Dual- und Mehrzahlformen eingeschlossen sein -- wie Tobychek bereits gesagt hat. Also seien sie nicht alle Kasusformen (Fälle). :eek:

    Translation, and correction of the German.

    Tree, definitely. German has four cases; most Slavic languages have more, 6 or 7 (Bulgarian has only 1 or 2). Slovenian obviously has 5 (I just found that out). Slavic languages are traditionally listed in this order: N, G, D, A, L (locative). In German, N, A, D, G (der, den, dem, des). I hope that Tobychek can share more with us.

    Edit: I'm probably going to be wrong. How embarrassing! The "five forms" most likely include dual and plural forms - as Tobychek already said. Therefore, they are not all cases.
     

    skye

    Senior Member
    Slovenian
    elroy said:
    Translation, and correction of the German.

    Tree, definitely. German has four cases; most Slavic languages have more, 6 or 7 (Bulgarian has only 1 or 2). Slovenian obviously has 5 (I just found that out). Slavic languages are traditionally listed in this order: N, G, D, A, L (locative). In German, N, A, D, G (der, den, dem, des). I hope that Tobychek can share more with us.

    Edit: I'm probably going to be wrong. How embarrassing! The "five forms" most likely include dual and plural forms - as Tobychek already said. Therefore, they are not all cases.

    Slovenian has six cases: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, locative and instrumental.

    The forms of the word tree that Tobycek wrote above are all in the nominative case, just different numbers. Slovene has singular, dual and plural. In the nominative case there are different forms for a group of 3,4 items and a group of five or more items.
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    DaleC said:
    Baum sicherlich. Deutsch hat vier Fälle, die meisten slawischen Sprachen haben mehr, 6 oder 7. (Bulgarisch nur 1 oder 2.) Offentsichtlich hat das Slowenischen fünf (erst jetzt erfahre ich das). Traditionell in der slawischen Sprachenkunde werden die Fällen in dieser Reihenfolge aufgelistet: N G D A L (locativ, Ortsfall). In der Deutschkunde N A D G (der den dem des). Ich hoffe, Tobychek wirde uns mehr mitteilen.

    (edit ->) Ich habe mich sicher geirrt. Wie peinlich! Unter diesen fünf Formen werden wahrscheinlich Dual und Mehrzahl eingeschlossen sein -- wie Tobychek bereits gesagt hat. Also sind sie nicht alle Kasusformen (Fälle). :eek:

    FYI, in German I also always use N, G, D, A. I know about locative, vocative, and instrumental in the other Slavic languages, however I didn't expect Tobycek is teaching us Slovenian cases here. :)

    Thanks for your explanation, though. ;)
     

    Tchesko

    Senior Member
    Czech
    skye said:
    Slovenian has six cases: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, locative and instrumental.

    The forms of the word tree that Tobycek wrote above are all in the nominative case, just different numbers. Slovene has singular, dual and plural. In the nominative case there are different forms for a group of 3,4 items and a group of five or more items.

    I just wonder if "5 dreves" is really a nominative.
    I say this because in Czech, with the numeral five or higher, you use the genitive case (in plural)...
     

    DaleC

    Senior Member
    Whodunit wrote:

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DaleC

    (edit ->) Ich habe mich sicher geirrt. Wie peinlich!



    I wrote just "Peinlich". That's also natural. Twenty years ago, I used to read a German newspaper that would use that exclamation rather frequently. To me, it's like saying "Toll!" instead of "Wie toll!" or "Das ist toll!". :)

    Tobychek said:
    DaleC, I don't speak any German, so could you translate for me?
    Especially as you have mentioned my name, I would like to know what you're saying! :)
    I just didn't think of that. Sorry. :eek:
     

    skye

    Senior Member
    Slovenian
    Tchesko said:
    I just wonder if "5 dreves" is really a nominative.
    I say this because in Czech, with the numeral five or higher, you use the genitive case (in plural)...

    Well, I don't know. The form is the same as in the genitive, so I guess you could call it genitive as well.
     

    Tchesko

    Senior Member
    Czech
    ytre said:
    i guess this form is also tolerated but rarely used:
    šest tisíců

    I don't know if this form is tolerated. To me it sounds incorrect :confused: but not shocking. Apart from a Bible translation from the 17th century (Bible kralická), I could find only 3 occurrences of this form on the net.
    So I think one should stick to using "šest tisíc" instead.

    Roman
     

    Jana337

    Senior Member
    čeština
    Tchesko said:
    I don't know if this form is tolerated. To me it sounds incorrect :confused: but not shocking. Apart from a Bible translation from the 17th century (Bible kralická), I could find only 3 occurrences of this form on the net.
    So I think one should stick to using "šest tisíc" instead.

    Roman
    I agree. :thumbsup: I would classify it as a very old & literal form. I wouldn't be surprised if a teacher corrected it.

    Jana
     

    ytre

    Member
    cz
    Jana337 said:
    I agree. :thumbsup: I would classify it as a very old & literal form. I wouldn't be surprised if a teacher corrected it.

    Jana

    even here?

    (not allowed to post urls...) www cd cz/static/old/NEW/TCD2005/5_35veci.htm
    ...očekával příjezd tisíců česáčů chmele z celé republiky...

    (I know it's different case ;-)
     

    stargazer

    Senior Member
    Slovenia, Slovenian
    Tobycek said:
    As you may know, there is one Slavonic language that still has a dual form, in regular use in verbs, nouns and adjectives, and that's Slovene.
    To take the same word "tree" in Slovene, it goes:
    1 drevo
    2 drevesi
    3 drevesa
    4 drevesa
    5 dreves

    Hello!
    I have to correct you: Slovenian (or Slovene) is a Slavic, not Slavonic language. Slavonia is a part of Croatia. Croatian is also a Slavic language.
    :)
     

    Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!

    Member
    Czech | Czech Republic
    Actually, Upper and Lower Sorbian also have the dual number, as well as the aorist and imperfect tenses. They may be convincingly moribund, which is a shame, but they still count. :)
     

    Primorec

    New Member
    Slovene - Italy
    Since there has been some confusion with numbers and cases regarding the Slovene word "drevo" (tree), I'd like to say that drevo is declined as follows:

    SINGULAR
    N drevo
    G drevesa
    D drevesu
    A drevo
    L pri drevesu
    I z drevesom

    DUAL
    N drevesi
    G dreves
    D drevesoma
    A drevesi
    L pri drevesih
    I z drevesoma

    PLURAL
    N drevesa
    G dreves
    D drevesom
    A drevesa
    L pri drevesih
    I z drevesi
     
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