Slang case endings

Discussion in 'General Language' started by hribecek, Nov 4, 2007.

  1. hribecek

    hribecek Well-Known Member

    I've learned the case endings for informal language eg. 7th case pl. - ama, 6th case pl. ach, masc. ej, neutral y and so on, however I'd like to know how commonly each is used in informal Czech, for example it seems to me that ama and y for neutral adjectives are used more often than ach for locative plural and ej for masculine inanimate adjectives.
    For example -
    Pred dvema tydnama (not tydny)
    Vidim dve maly okna (not mala okna)
    Muj pocitac je drahej (not drahy)
    Je tam cerveny auto (not cervene auto)
    Kazdy den hodne lidi seda v vlakach (not vlacich)

    How common are all of these and others in informal situations? How informal does the situation have to be? Are some very informal and others less? I'd really appreciate any opinions on this because often I'm never really sure which form is appropriate when I'm speaking.
  2. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Well, it probably depends on region, but as far I know - in central Bohemia and Prague - in spoken conversation it's very common, even during company or bussines meetings. Actually it's even more "slang-ish" :) -

    Pred dvema tydnama -> Pred dvouma tejdnama.
    Vidim dve maly okna -> Vidim dve maly vokna
    Kazdy den hodne lidi seda v vlakach -> Kazdej den hodne lidi sedi ve vlakach. /Although vlakach seems little strange too me - more like childish - I would say vlacich even in informal chat/

    But - and this is very important - it goes ONLY for spoken conversation. Not for written.
  3. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    It is rather colloquial than slang usage.

    The ending “-ma” is correct in dual which is out of usage in modern Czech with exception of numerals for two (dva, oba) and some pairwise parts of body (noha, ucho).

    The instrumental endings “-ma” (dual) and “-mi” (plural) are often confused in colloquial Czech (It affects feminine model “žena”, pairwise parts of body, adjectives, numerals…). It is mostly based on false agreement (“dvěma ženama” or “dvěmi ženami”).

    The confusion of “-ma” with another ending (like your “týdnama”) is less common. But it is common for pairwise parts of body (lokty × loktama × loktami).
    This is rather a colloquial vowel shift (ý → ej), not a colloquial ending. It affects even word stems, e.g. mýdlo → mejdlo, rýže → rejže, týden → tejden.
    Even the form “dvě malé okna” is used in the colloquial Czech.
    I agree with eso, this is a childish negligence of the patalization. It is uncommon.
  4. Petr_B

    Petr_B Well-Known Member

    I think "vlakách" is quite common in spoken language here (Olomouc region). I'm afraid I would use it too when speaking freely. :(
  5. hribecek

    hribecek Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the replies.
    I don't quite get the dual, plural difference with 'ma' and 'mi', could you give me some examples.
    In North Bohemia I heard the ej ending a lot with masculine animate but not so much with masculine inanimate, eg - velkej pes but velky pocitac. Is this normal? I think the less educated people used ej in both cases but educated people tended to use ej only for animate when using formal language. Am I right or hearing things?
  6. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    I think the distinction is that Czech used to have (and in some rare cases apparently still has) a separate declension set for plurals of exactly two. In other words, you had 1) singular, 2) dual, and 3) plural, plus gender of course. [Someone correct me if I'm wrong]
  7. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    No wonder I can't understand a word my husband says. :x (He's from Cesky Budjovice.)
  8. wer

    wer Well-Known Member


    You can read about dual and its usage in Slavic languages on Wikipedia.

    The “-ma” ending is typical for dual instrumental. These instrumental dual forms are still used:

    dvěma (= two)
    oběma (= both)

    pairwise parts of body
    ušima (= ears)
    očima (= eyes)
    prsama (= breasts)
    nohama (= foots/legs)

    Theoretically, supposing the dual form is still in use, the correct instrumental forms should be:

    dvěma malýma ženama (= two little women)
    třemi/čtyřmi malými ženami (= three/four little women)

    But in fact, the dual form is replaced with a standard plural form - i.e. the correct forms are:

    dvěma/třemi/čtyřmi malými ženami

    The correct combination “dvěma malými ženami” sounds unnaturally because of the disagreement in endings. Therefore a lot of Czechs tend to use incorrect forms “dvěmi malými ženami” or “dvěma malýma ženama” (or even something more twisted). And the wrong forms (dvěmi, malýma, ženama…) infected even the forms for other numbers, thus forms like “se třema malýma ženama” are in common use in colloquial Czech.

    To make the things worse, the dual form of the pairwise parts of body is not used for figurative meanings, which is another source of confusion in colloquial Czech. The instrumental form for human legs is “nohama”, but for table legs it is “nohami”, analogically for clock hands, pot handles (~ ears in Czech), loops (~ eyes in Czech) etc.
  9. hribecek

    hribecek Well-Known Member

    So in written Czech the dual form is ama for feminine plural in the instrumental and for plural form it's only ama in spoken informal language?
  10. Eleshar

    Eleshar Well-Known Member

    The dual is in use NO MORE! In written Czech, the female enging "-ami" is always correct except some special cases (parts of body comming in pairs).

    In written Czech:
    se dvěma rukama
    se dvěma ženami
    se třemi ženami

    In colloquial Czech:
    se dvěma rukama (sometimes even "se dvouma rukama"
    se dvěma ženama
    se třema ženama

    "-(a)ma" may be in colloquial Czech a universal ending for plural instrumental:

    se dvěma chlapama (instead of "se dvěma chlapy")
    se dvěma mužema (instead of "se dvěma muži")

    but it is not considered standard.

    For you as a foreigner, it is extremely useful to understand these forms but do not use them! It sounds strange if a foreigner tries to imitate casual speech if he does not speak really very fluently.
    You can see my point if you look on the last paragraph of you first post in this topic - you ask how informal the situation has to be... And it is difficult to state, it varies greatly, it depends a little bit on the region and such, so you can never be sure whether you sound appropriate or not. Always use the correct ("formal") form.

    Moreover - the stylistics is a little bit tricky task because it concerns communicational competence, not the linguistic one. If you say something that is not grammatically correct, no one will mind, they will immediately recognise, you are a foreigner and will tolerate it because it is very obvious. However, if you use a grammatically correct sentence inappropriately, they may disinterprete it.
    Stylistics is much less obvious than grammar and many people do not realise, there is something like that and may think you are being offensive to them or that you are stupid or anything if you cannot adopt appropriate register for the situation.

    I.e.: it is better to be a little bit overly formal in informal situation and let the people around you get used to it than to do the same in a reverse situation.
  11. hribecek

    hribecek Well-Known Member

    Okay, thanks for the advice.
    The problem is that I usually use the 'ama' form when speaking because it's so much easier! Nobody's told me not to before.
    I also generally use y for plural forms in the nominative and accusative because it's easier too. I will try to revert back to the formal form as much as possible now though.

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