Czech names - addressing people

Discussion in 'General Language' started by GlennInFlorida, Jul 21, 2005.

  1. GlennInFlorida

    GlennInFlorida Well-Known Member

    I saw an article (somewhre, can't find it now) that discussed the proper way to use a person's name when addressing them in Czech. I know, because of the structure of the language, that name endings change when speaking directly to a person using their name. Would someone be so kind as to point me in the direction of a resource that might give me examples of common Czech name use in this instance? A source of general rules or conventions would also be welcome. Thanks in advance for your help. Ninety-eight days and counting until my return to Praha - can't wait!
  2. Jana

    Jana Well-Known Member

    I assume that the article dealt with one of the most frequent grammatical errors Czech people make when addressing people - using nominative instead of vocative.
    A few examples (wrong x correct):
    pane Novák x pane Nováku,
    pane Procházka x pane Procházko,
    pane Ivan x pane Ivane,
    pane Skopec x pane Skopče
    The general rule is simple - Czech language has a special declension case (the fifth one, vocative) for addressing, and the only problem for foreigners is to identify the grammatical gender of the surname in order to choose the appropriate declension pattern and suffix. In female surnames (Nováková, Holá, Pavlů), vocative is identical with nominative, so there is not any problem.
  3. GlennInFlorida

    GlennInFlorida Well-Known Member

    Thanks so much - I can get started in the right direction now - have even found a couple of site on the internet (using the term vocative).
  4. Alright, that doesn't sound new as I've studied some Latin (well, actually I was forced to do so), where the use of vocative is also present. However, should such a mistake occur, would it result very evident in an actual conversation?
  5. mravenec

    mravenec Well-Known Member

    It would be quite obvious if you'll yell somebody's name in the street not using the vocative. However, i doubt anyone would feel offended by this.

    Anyhow, the rules are quite simple (for most common uses):

    Names ending in -a (mostly female) will become -o, thus:
    Jano! (for Jana), Lenko! (for Lenka)

    Male names with a consonant ending mostly get -e and sometimes -i (and even -u), thus:
    Martine! (for Martin), Tomáši! (for Thomas)

    It seems to me that Czechs often ignore putting surnames in vocative after pane (which in itself indicates vocative), eg
    pane Svoboda! (instead of Svobodo)

    Hope this will help...

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