Declension of "chleba"

Discussion in 'Grammar & Pronunciation' started by Lorenzo, Nov 18, 2003.

  1. Lorenzo

    Lorenzo Well-Known Member

    Hi all,

    I was translating a sentence into Czech and I have realized the noun "chleba" follows an irregular declension pattern: Dneska si dali chleba s máslem a salámem na snídani
    I'd expected it to be "chlebu" in the accusative as it's a masculine noun ending in "a".
    Is it an exception, an idiomatic use of this word or are there any other nouns, which follow this "irregular pattern"?

    By the way, I'm told some inanimate nouns are treated like animate ones in colloquial speech.

    Thank you


    [This message has been edited by Lorenzo (edited 18-11-2003).]
  2. Kikko

    Kikko Well-Known Member

    I've learned from my grammar that a small number of inanimate masculine nouns have the animate ending -a: vecera, chleba, lesa...

    They all got 'a'

    probably there are more, i just know these 3
  3. Dana

    Dana Well-Known Member

    "večera", "chleba", "lesa" is the genitive for "večer" (evening), "chléb" (bread) or "chleba" (colloquial for bread), and "les" (forest). All these nouns are masculine, inanimate. Out of these three, only "chleba" ends with an -a also in the nominative and accusative. Why, I don't know. It must be some kind of an irregularity. It is not an idiom and I'm not sure if there are other nouns that follow the same pattern. I can't think of any.

    If anyone knows more, I'd be curious to read about it.
  4. Kikko

    Kikko Well-Known Member

    Oh I thought that was both gen and acc.
    Then I really dont know it too [​IMG]
  5. Lorenzo

    Lorenzo Well-Known Member

    Tajemství českého jazyka...? [​IMG]
  6. Starkather

    Starkather New Member

    I may be wrong but I don't think it is not an exception:

    1. there isn't any rule that would say masculine nouns don't end with -a. True, I can't think of any other _inanimate_ masculine noun that ends in this vowel.

    2. there is a rule that says the accusative of masculine inanimate nouns is always the same as the nominative.
  7. Dana

    Dana Well-Known Member

    You're right Starkather, there are a number of animate masculine nouns that end with -a (no inanimate ones that I can think of except for "chleba"). But we also need to look at how the noun behaves in the other cases, such as genitive and accusative. In the case of "chleba", there is no paradigm for it to follow. As can be seen on the Czech Nouns: Declension (Masc.) page, the following are the masc. noun paradigms (sample nouns) that all other Czech masc. nouns should normally fall under:

    pán (gen. pána)
    hrad (gen. hradu) - possibly also les (gen. lesa)
    muž (gen. muže)
    stroj (gen. stroje)
    předseda (gen. předsedy) - animate noun ending with -a
    soudce (gen. soudce)

    The noun "chleba" (gen. chleba) doesn't fit under any of these.
  8. Bohaemus

    Bohaemus Well-Known Member

    "Chleba" cannot be nominative (accusative), because "chléb" is not an a-stem noun (as "předseda"). Morphologically "chleba" is the genitive case, syntactically the partitive genitive (partitivní genitiv) of "chléb". It is common in Romance languages ("couper du pain, du lait") and other Slavic languages (e.g. in Russian: "daj moloka", literally "dej mléka (gen.)"), but it is rare in Czech and often replaced by accusative.


    Dali mu chléb, mléko, etc. (ACC.)
    Dali mu chleba (PART.GEN.) (= du pain, del pane, some bread).

    Dostali jsme dar. (ACC.)
    Koně dostali ovsa. (PART.GEN.)

    Přines vodu (a ne něco jiného). (ACC.)
    Přines vody (= trochu vody). (PART.GEN.)

    Přivezl pěkné věci. (ACC.)
    Ten přivezl věcí! (= mnoho věcí) (PART. GEN.)
  9. Lorenzo

    Lorenzo Well-Known Member

    So in the end it seems that chleba is a distortion of the proper word chléb and that's why it acts irregularly as I would still expect it to be "chleby" in the partitive/genitive (just like předsedy though I know this is an animate noun).

    Thank you all!


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