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Uråvenj 2

In {{ link slug='slovianto-1' /}} you have learned a number of forms that can you can use to make yourself understandable to Slavs on a very basic level. This language, however, is very primitive, and doesn't do justice to the richness of the Slavic languages at all. So, if you are up to the challenge, here are some more tools that you can use to make Slovianto look and sound a lot more natural.

Level 2 differs from level 1 in two ways:

  1. you will learn about gender in Slavic and how to use it in Slovianto,
  2. you will learn how to conjugate verbs.

Gender

Most European languages have grammatical gender – English is one of the very few exceptions. It is no more than logical that words denoting male persons are always masculine and words denoting female persons are always feminine. The idea of grammatical gender, however, is that every noun has a gender, even if there is no logical connection whatsoever between this gender and the meaning of the word. In French, for example, le vin „the wine“ is masculine and la bière „the beer“ is feminine. In German, der Wein „the wine“ is masculine as well, but das Bier „the beer“ is neuter. The gender of a noun affects not only the article, but also adjectives, possessive pronouns and other words that modify this noun. French has un bon vin froid „one good cold wine“, but *une bonne bière froide* „one good cold beer“.

All Slavic languages have three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter. At the first level of Slovianto, gender does not play a role, because it is not essential for communication on the most basic level. Small children often make mistakes with gender, but can still be understood. Which does not change the fact that dobry žena „a good woman“ sounds clumsy, because žena is feminine and the ending -y is masculine. You can make your Slovianto look and sound a lot more natural if you also take into account gender. Establishing the gender of a noun is not difficult at all, because in almost all cases, looking at the word is enough to know its gender, which means that there is no need to learn the gender separately.

Nouns

To find out whether a word is masculine, feminine or neuter, it is enough to look at the ending:

  • Masculine words always end in a consonant:

    muž „man”\ syn „son”\ dom „house”

  • Words on -a are feminine:

    žena „woman, wife”\ duša „soul”\ voda „water”

  • Words on -o and -e are neuter:

    slovo „word”\ děte „child”\ morje „sea”

  • There is also a group of feminine words ending in a consonant. As a rule of thumb, remember that most of these are words ending on -ost:

    kost „bone”\ velikost „greatness”

There are a few exceptions, but you don't need to worry about them at this point.

At the first level, you have learned that the plural ending is -i. That works well for masculine and feminine nouns, however, in the case of neuter nouns it is better to use -a instead:

slovoslova „words”\ děteděta „children”\ morjemorja „seas”

Adjectives

Not only nouns have gender, the same goes for adjectives and similar modifiers, too. Just like in French and German, the Slavic languages have gender agreement. This means that when a masculine noun is accompanied by an adjective, this adjective takes the masculine form, a feminine noun takes the feminine form of the adjective, etc. Dobry žena looks a bit childish and clumsy, because it combines a feminine noun with a masculine adjective. So remember the following things:

  • The masculine ending is -y or -i. This is the form given in the dictionary:

    dobry muž „a good man”

  • The feminine ending is -a:dobra žena „a good woman”

  • The neuter ending is -e:dobre děte „a good child”

  • For all genders the plural ending is -e:

    dobre muži „good men”\ dobre ženi „good woman”\ dobre děta „good children”

The same thing that goes for adjectives, goes also for possessive, demonstrative, relative, indefinite pronouns, as well as for numbers.

  • The possessive pronouns moj „my”, tvoj „your, thy”, naš „our”, vaš „your (pl.)”, svoj „one's own” and čij „whose” receive the same endings as adjectives (except in the masculine): moj (m.), moja (f.), moje (n.), moje (pl.). The same goes for the interrogative pronoun koj „which”:

    moj muž „my husband”\ tvoja žena „your wife”\ naše děte „our child”\ koje prijatelji „which friends”

  • Possessive pronouns of the third person (jego „his, its”, jej „her”, jih „their”) do not alter (this is because these words are not strictly possessive pronouns, but literally mean something like „of him”, etc.):

    jego žena „his wife”\ jih prijatelji „their friends”

  • The demonstrative pronoun toj has the forms ta (f.), to (n.) and te (pl.), instead of *toja, *toje... (the same goes, of course, for tutoj and tamtoj):

    toj muž „this man”\ ta žena „that woman”\ to děte „this child”\ te prijatelji „these friends”

  • The relative pronoun ktory behaves like an adjective:

    žena, ktora čita „a woman who reads”\ děte, ktore ja viděl „the child that I've seen”

  • The number jedin „one” has the forms jedna (f.) and jedno (n.):

    jedin muž „one man”\ jedna žena „one woman”\ jedno děte „this child”

Verbs

Present tense

In Slovianto level 1 you have learned that the present tense is formed by adding the ending -(e)t to the stem: ja děla-t "I do", vy prosi-t "you ask", oni nes-et "they carry". To the Slavic ear, however, this sounds unnatural, because all Slavic languages inflect their verbs for person and number. To make a better impression, there is a lot to be gained by learning some of these personal endings as well.

So, time to forget the ending -t! Instead, remember the following endings: -m, , (no ending) in the first, second and third person singular, and -mo, -te, -ut in the first, second and third person plural. When the stem ends in a vowel, insert -j- before the ending -ut. When the stem ends in a consonant, insert -e- before the remaining endings. See the table to the right for some examples.

The ending and the personal pronoun ty should be used only for family, friends, children etc. In other cases, address people in the second person plural (vy, -te).

[Missing table]

Past tense

In the past tense, verbs are not conjugated for person. However, they are conjugated for gender. This may seem odd, but the explanation is pretty simple: the form dělal is actually a participle, meaning something like „having done”, and that's why it agrees with the subject in gender and number, but not in person. The forms are those shown in the table to the right.

[Missing table]

Future tense

The future tense is formed by combining the future tense of the verb byti „to be” with the infinitive. The forms are the same as if a verb *bud-ti were conjugated in the present tense: ja budem dělati, ty budeš dělati, on bude dělati, etc.

Conditional

The conditional is formed by adding the particle by to the past tense, and therefore subject to gender agreement: ja by dělal „I (m.) would do/have done”, ty by dělala „you (f.) would do/have done”, my by dělali „we would do/have done”.

Imperative

Apart from the imperative form you have already learned (the 2nd person plural), there are also imperative forms for the 2nd person singular and the 1st person plural. The endings are -j (2 sg.), -jmo (1 pl.) and -jte (2 pl.) after a vowel, and -i (2 sg.), -imo (1 pl.) and -ite (2 pl.) after a consonant. Thus, dělajte means „do!” and can be directed at more people at once, but also serve as a more polite singular form, while dělaj should only be used for friends, family and children. Dělajmo means: „Let's do”.

[Missing table]

The verb „to be”

Since all the above also affects the only irregular verb in Slovianto, byti „to be”, here is its complete conjugation.

[Missing table]

Example

Naše selo

Iz vse možlive města, kde žijut ljudi, ja naj-mnogo ljubim male selo, daleko od šumny grad, s jego mala společnost. Ono ne ima prěpolnjene bloki, jedino male drevenne domki. Jest to proste i malovatelne město dlja žitje, s žiteli, čije lica sut ravno znane kak cvěti v naš sad. To jest zatvorjeny svět s nemnogo ljudi, blizko sjedinjene kak mravki v mravska kopa, pčeli v pčelnik, ovci v ovčarnija, mniški v konvent, ili morniki na korabja – kde vsekto zna vsekogo i vsekto jest znany od vsekogo, kde vsekto interesova se v vsekogo i vsekto može imati nadeja, že nekto interesova se v jego.

Kak milo bylo by zanuriti se v to srdečne čutje od ljubjenje i neznane običaji, sobrati se i byti prijatelji s te vse jedinstvene ljudi okolo nas! Tako, že my budemo znati vse zakutki i povrati od tenke ulici i solnečne luki, ktore my prohodimo vsaki denj. Mala socialna grupa, ktora jest selska společnost, jest to, za čto poezija i proza blagodarijut naj-mnogo. Dolga, raztegnjena draga, ktora bludi se v mily, teply denj i prěhodi črěz velika, široka draga, polna od avta i tiri. Vy hočete putovati s mene, dragi čitatelj? Put ne bude dolgy. My načinamo na dolina konec i odtudy my budemo pohoditi v vrh.

Our village

Of all the possible places where people live, the one I love most is a small village far from the noise of the city, with its small community. It does not have overcrowded flats, just small wooden cottages. It is a simple and picturesque place to live, with inhabitants whose faces are as familiar as the flowers in our garden. It is a secluded world with few people, closely united like ants in an ant-hill, or bees in a hive, or sheep in a fold, or nuns in a convent, or sailors on a ship – where everyone knows everyone and everyone is known by everyone, where everyone is interested in everyone, and everyone may hope that others are interested in him.

How pleasant it would be to immerse oneself into this warm-hearted feeling of love and unknown habits, to get together and be friends with all these unique people around us! Just like we will know all the corners and turns of the shady streets and sunny meadows that we pass every day. The small social group, which is rural society, is what poetry and prose owe most to. A long, stretched out street, windingon a nice, warm day, crossing a large, broad road, full of cars and trucks. Would you like to travel with me, dear reader? The journey will not be long. We begin at the end of the valley and from there we will proceed up the hill.