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Friday, August 16, 2013

Funny Grammatical Categories in Serbian

One of the funny grammatical categories you might come across in Serbian are "animate" vs. "inanimate"  nouns, which is for instance reflected in the Accusative declensions, only for Sg. Masculine. This means that just because you've seen (to see = videti)  or taken a photo ((u)slikati) of a person, not a thing, a noun like "dečak" will take the Genitive declension markers (suffix -a)  instead of Accusative (zero suffix), although it's still an Accusative case. (I'm talking only about the form here).

For example: Ovo je dečak. Videla sam dečaka. Slikala sam dečaka. (there's also a stress change from the first to the second syllable).

While the linguists dwell on these topics and enjoy discussing whys and ifs of such irregularities, I always enjoy helping you in the most practical way. That's why Ivan and I created these two videos, carefully choosing nouns both in singular and then in plural and grouping them. With both videos you can practice saying simple sentences, with the verbs:
  • videti (to see )
  • fotografisati  = slikati = uslikati (to take a photo of )
  • snimati (to record)
The first video covers the grammatical category of "inanimate" objects:

The second one is obviously all about "animate" category - this time the topic is "people " (so switch to the Genitive endings for masc. please).

We also did our best to avoid:
  • short nouns (which implement an infix -ov, e.g. sat-satovi)
  • the ones ending in -o (because of the deep structure -l; e.g. sto - stolovi)
  • "zbirne imenice", such as trees (drveće), leaves (lišće), granje (branches)...
(I'm mentioning these in order to hyperlink them with the upcoming video lessons in the future :))

Finally, in order not to discourage you, take a look at Archi language, for example ! How many grammatical categories are there in their language, when it comes to nouns ? In comparison with it, Serbian declensions are really easy :D 

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