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Študentje, škratje and nadškofje. Ending -je in nominative plural in nouns of the first masculine declension

Author(s): Špela Arhar Holdt

Journal: Slovenščina 2.0 : Empirične, Aplikativne in Interdisciplinarne Raziskave
ISSN 2335-2736

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 134;
Date: 2013;
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Keywords: Slovene morphology | alternative inflectional forms | noun | first masculine declension | ending -je

One of the phenomena found in conjugation and declension in the Slovene language are alternative inflectional forms. This paper focuses on one such example: certain Slovene masculine nouns in the first declension can be used in nominative plural with two different endings (e.g. študenti or študentje; in English students). While nowadays the majority of these noun forms typically end in -i, the ending -je remains the neutral choice for a small group of nouns. The beginnings of the described variation go back to the 16th century when the standardisation of Slovene took place. However, from the synchronic point of view, it is not entirely clear what determines the choice between the two endings in each case. Language users, motivated to use the ending that is most “suitable” or “correct”, seek guidance in language resources available to them, and sometimes supplement the available information with their own instinct-based “rules”. Namely, the information that one can currently obtain from Slovene reference books contains some inconsistencies – whereas the grammatical description of the problem appears to be rather vague, the prescriptive orthographic dictionary seems to be all the more decisive. This paper introduces new, corpus-based data related to the presented problem. It presents the findings of an analysis that is based on the Gigafida text corpus and is exploring three principal questions: (I) which nouns are used with alternative endings -i and -je in contemporary written Slovene, (II) what is the distribution of these endings for each specific noun, and (III) do the identified nouns reflect any general tendencies about the usage of the endings. The paper concludes with an attempt to bridge the gap between the existing view of the described variation and the new corpus-based findings.
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