declension of foreign place names

Discussion in 'Grammar & Pronunciation' started by uuspoiss, Jan 30, 2005.

  1. uuspoiss

    uuspoiss Well-Known Member

    Might be a stupid question, but... I have a problem figuring out the declension of some non-Czech place names. Eg. my home town is called Tartu. I cannot even think of any Czech words ending in -u that could be used as an example. Are there any special rules concerning the declension of foreign place names (or names in general)? How do I say "to Tartu", "from Tartu" etc correctly?
  2. Jana

    Jana Well-Known Member

    Tartu is indeclinable, i.e. it keeps its original form in all cases - do Tartu, z Tartu, bydlím v Tartu etc. However, it is an exception.
    In general, non-Czech geographical names are attributed Czech genders and inflected accordingly (i.e. San Francisco in the same way as město); some (usually the well-known ones) are even modified or "Czechized" (London = Londýn, Paris = Paříž, the Thames = Temže etc.).
  3. Vitka

    Vitka Member

    no worries, Tartu has definitely no declensions: :wink:
    Pojedu do Tartu (I will go to Tartu) - genitive
    Jsem v Tartu ( I am in Tartu) - locative
    To mesto se jmenuje Tartu (the city is called Tartu)- nominative
    Vidim Tartu. ( I can see Tartu)- accusative
    I am convinced that Tartu could be understood as a neutral substantive accorrding to the impossibility of declensing of this word, e.g. staveni (a building^) behaves similarly-there are no declensions.
    I am Czech and I teach Czech in Switzerland. Have fun learning it !
  4. uuspoiss

    uuspoiss Well-Known Member

    Vitko, možná že přijdeš do Tartu a stáneš se pro mne učitelkou? Nemáme tady žádné české učitele. Je težké se učit bez cizí pomoci...
  5. digitaliz

    digitaliz Active Member

    A related issue: how do Czechs deal with a female surname that ends in a wowel? Just adding -ová seems a bit awkward... :)
  6. Wicker808

    Wicker808 Well-Known Member

    1. I have to disagree with Jana.

    The locative of město is "ve městě."

    But San Francisco declines "v San Franciscu."

    The declination of foreign names is not always predictable according to templates.

    2. I also have to disagree with Vitka.

    Words of foreign origin ending in "u" such as Tartu or iglů typically don't decline at all. But stavení does decline: se stavením, o staveních, naproti stavením, se staveními.

    3. I'd also like to add on to digitaliz's question. Female Christian names of foreign origin can be even more awkard than surnames. Names like Kim or Ashley usually don't decline. I am of the opinion that such names should be Czech-ized in literature (Ašlie?), but no one agrees with me.
  7. Jana

    Jana Well-Known Member

    I am sorry, but I have to disagree with you - the neutral nouns ending with -o have just one declension pattern "město". However, there are exceptions for everything; in this case, the locative of neutral nouns ending with -ko (San Francisco - pronounced -ko belongs there) has the suffix -ku (e.g. tričko - v tričku, brko - brku, horko - v horku).
  8. Ryan

    Ryan Member

    And this, folks, is exactly why i will curse czech gramma till the day i die. Even native speakers can't always agree . . . so what do they expect from us poor foreign fools who attempt to speak it?

    It's funny, but I love it all the same.
  9. Vitka

    Vitka Member

    Ok, I am sorry for the instrumental of staveni, but staveni is an example word, so I thought it would be helpful for declensing Tartu... and at that moment I didn't think of this case. However I cannot agree with the other" o staveních, naproti stavením, se staveními" as these are all plural and the question was Tartu in singular. Anyway I am not a specialist in Czech, however a native speaker with graduation in Czech....
    I am sorry that there are no qualified teachers of Czech in Estonia, neither are here in Switzerland and I am at the moment fighting tooth and nail with teaching Czech to foreigners here.
    GOOD LUCK to everybody and my adorations to those who manage my language in detail! :)
  10. Wicker808

    Wicker808 Well-Known Member

    I realize that Czechs are taught that all neuter nouns ending in "-o" belong to the same declension class, but this is of little practical value to foreign learners of Czech when nouns within that class take different endings. A foreign learner might assume that the term "being in the same declension class" means "taking the same endings" when in fact it does not. Therefore, saying that "město" and "San Francisco" are in the same declension class may be technically true according to one interpretation of Czech pedagogy, but is misleading.
  11. uuspoiss

    uuspoiss Well-Known Member

    I´ll add to this. Many Estonian surnames end with -berg (names of German origin) or an "Estonianized" version of it, -pere. How would one go about declining family names like that? For declension purposes, does it matter if the person is male or female?
  12. szarkafarka

    szarkafarka Well-Known Member

    Addendum to toponyms.

    In many neuter nouns we can choose either or -u in the sing. loc.:

    mléko: v mléce, v mléku
    roucho: v rouše, v rouchu
    Polsko: v Polště (arch.), v Polsku
    Hradecko: na Hradečtě (arch.), na Hradecku

    As you can see, the main difference is that the consonants antecedent to the ending must be changed, while the consonants before -u remain unchanged. So we use the ending -u mainly after k, g, h, ch, r and in the foreign words to avoid inappropriate changes of consonants:

    Portorico - v Portoriku
    Jericho - v Jerichu
    Idaho - v Idahu

    It is interesting, that we have no such choice for feminine nouns ending with -a. The only ending in the sing. locative is . So we must change all the above mentioned consonants:

    Ithaka - na Ithace
    Alba Longa - v Alba Lonze
    Porta Nigra - v Portě Nigře
  13. szarkafarka

    szarkafarka Well-Known Member

    Also many Czech surnames (or toponyms) end with -berg, or "Czechized" version -berk, -perk.
    Definitely, yes.

    1. Exupére (like pán) - N.B. e is mute (French)!
    2. Exupéra
    3. Exupérovi
    4. = 2.
    5. Exupére! (pane!) - e is not mute!
    6. = 3.
    7. Exupérem

    1. Exupérová, etc. (like Nováková)

    If the e at the end is not mute:

    1. Pere, Exupéry, Goldoni
    2. Pereho, Exupéryho, Goldoniho
    3. Peremu, Exupérymu, Goldonimu
    4. = 2.
    5. = 1.
    6. Perem, Exupérym, Goldonim
    7. = 6.

    F: 1. Pereová, Exupéryová, Goldoniová etc.
  14. uuspoiss

    uuspoiss Well-Known Member

    First, thanks for the explanation.
    However, the difference is that in the CR women actually have names that are different from those that their husbands have, while in Estonia there's no difference (even Estonian women who marry Russian men whose names end in -ov most often don't change theirs to -ova). Do you still need to use different declination for them? What if I don't know the person's gender (you can never even assume based on someone's last name only)?
    Sorry to keep persisting, but textbooks fail to explain things like this :)
  15. Wicker808

    Wicker808 Well-Known Member

    The convention of gender suffixing of women's surnames varies. In many newspaper, they are quite thorough, and all foreign women get "the Czech treatment." You'll read about people like Laura Bushová, Cindy Crawfordová, and so on. Other, perhaps less reputable media outlets, often leave foreign names as they are. In my experience, in casual conversation, people usually refer to well-known non-Czech women by their "real" names.
  16. szarkafarka

    szarkafarka Well-Known Member

    With many exceptions. E.g. nobody says:
    - Monica Lewinski or Nastasja Kinski, but Lewinská, Kinská. (obvious Slavic names)
    - Graf porazila Davenport. (the "real" names are indeclinable, it is the main disadvantage)

    In general, the masculine and feminine names have different declinations.

    The Indo-European languages have genders, so you must know the person's gender. Even the English language (a kind of "pidginized" Germanic language) has the pronouns he x she, him x her, his x her. Otherwise you must use such ingenious constructions like s/he.

    Never mind!

    1. Grafová, Kinská
    2. Grafové, Kinské
    3. Grafové, Kinské
    4. Grafovou, Kinskou
    5. Grafová, Kinská
    6. Grafové, Kinské
    7. Grafovou, Kinskou

    (Graf porazila Davenport.)

    Grafová porazila Davenportovou.
    Grafovou porazila Davenportová.
  17. Harry

    Harry Active Member

    I have it on good authority they they just drop the vowel so the 'ová' carries on from a consonant.

  18. szarkafarka

    szarkafarka Well-Known Member

    The answer is correct only if the clause "... that ends in a vowel" in the question means "... that ends in "A" vowel". :)

    Otherwise not.

    Muti - Mutiová
    Tautou - Tautouová
    Linde - Lindeová
    White - Whiteová (read vajtová - mute e)

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