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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Vocative in Serbian



Have you noticed that proper nouns are somehow changed when we speak to one another, especially when calling or addressing someone? For example, if your friend is called Nada, you will start your conversation with her by saying "Ćao Nado!"

Why is it so?

Well, if there is not such a case in your mother tongue, that doesn't make sense, but in the Serbian language it does. This concept is called the Vocative case and the very fact that you are callling someone or addressing them triggers some changes in the final vowel in some cases, luckily not always. Let's watch this short episode with Serbian subtitles and see how it works with the following names:
  • Mocart, Cvrle and Čarli
How does the name Mocart change? Why don't the other names change as well?



The Vocative case in Serbian

  • Masc. Sg. nouns ending in a consonant 
Igor / brat / ------------------------------------------------------------ E is added to the stem e.g. Igore, Jovane, bate, Miloše
  • Masc. Sg. nouns ending in č, ć, đ, lj, nj, š, ž ------------ U is added to the stem e.g. mužu, prijatelju (doesn't apply to proper names, though - Miloše)
  • Masc. Sg. nouns ending in -a 
These words either don't change, like tata, kolega, 
Or in some cases the final -a is dropped and ---------------------O is added. e.g. sudija - sudijo! 
  • Fem. Sg. nouns ending in -a
Two syllable nouns ending in -a -------------------------------------A turns to O  e.g. Nada - Nado!
More syllable nouns ending in -ica  -------------------------------- A turns to E e.g. Milica - Milice!
With words and names of foreign origin (or still felt as "foreign" names/words) there is no change


  • Fem. Sg. nouns ending in a consonant
 Words like reč / ljubav / and other abstract nouns ( ending in -st) --- adding I e.g. Ljubav - Ljubavi!
  • Neuter Sg. nouns ending in -e or -o -------------------------- No change

Vocative - Usage


Since the vocative case is used when we are addressing someone or calling someone, most often one person, there are changes in the singular form only (of course there are exceptions). Addressing things or abstract concepts won't be something you will hear in everyday conversations, but there are plenty examples in poems and literature.

Vocative in Serbian - Exercise





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