Croatian grammar #006
How do we decline Trg bana Josipa Jelačića?
Genitive case in action
Anyone who has been to Zagreb knows the main square with a dramatic statue of a fierce-looking warrior mounted on his powerful horse, and wielding a large sword. What a moustache! What fiery eyes!
Do you know where I was when I took the photograph on the left? I do not have a drone.
Who is this historic character? He is ban Josip Jelačić (von Bužim), or Count Josip Jelačić, provincial governor of Croatia under the Austrian Empire 1848-1859. He was a crusader for independence of Croatia from Austria, and is regarded as being responsible for the abolition of serfdom in Croatia.
You can read some of the details of his military and personal lives at Wikipedia (Josip Jelačić) or Croatia Traveller (Ban Josip Jelačić).
So what does this have to do with learning Croatian?
Well, I recall that I had quite a problem with the endings of the words in the name of the square, according to case (that is, with the declension of the name of the square, Trg bana Josipa Jelačića). My teacher Mateja (SpeakCro: Learn Croatian Online) had to be very tolerant with me.
Let me begin with a comparison between the declensions of otok Hvar (the island Hvar) and of Trg bana Josipa Jelačića.
“I am on otok Hvar” is Ja sam na otoku Hvaru – in locative case, of course.
So it seemed right to me that “I am on Trg bana Josipa Jelačića” would be Ja sam na Trgu banu Josipu Jelačiću. Or something like that .......
But no, it is Ja sam na Trgu bana Josipa Jelačića.
And “I see otok Hvar” is Vidim otok Hvar – accusative case.
So, thinking accusative, I thought that “I see Trg bana Josipa Jelačića” might be Vidim Trg banu Josipu Jelačiću – in a way, corresponding with Vidim zelenu jabuku. In accusative case, the –a ending changes to –u, doesn’t it!?
But no, it is Vidim Trg bana Josipa Jelačića.
Mateja said that it’s time for some analysis …….
In the nominative case, otok Hvar is a simple name, meaning “the island Hvar”. So, both parts of the name decline as masculine words .....
In accusative case: “I see otok Hvar” is Vidim otok Hvar.
“I am going to otok Hvar” (also accusative) is Idem na otok Hvar.
“I am on otok Hvar” (locative) is Ja sam na otoku Hvaru.
And “I am leaving from otok Hvar” is Odlazim s otoka Hvara (genitive - see the post Going and coming: u-iz, but na-sa).
On the other hand, Trg bana Josipa Jelačića means “the square of ban Josip Jelačić.”
Following the word “of”, indicating possession, ban Josip Jelačić is in the genitive case (as bana Josipa Jelačića), regardless of the case of trg.
So, trg declines like any masculine word, but ban Josip Jelačić always goes into the genitive case.
“I see Trg bana Josipa Jelačića” (I see the square of ban Josip Jelačić) is Vidim Trg bana Josipa Jelačića. (Trg in accusative case)
“I am on Trg bana Josipa Jelačića” (I am on the square of ban Josip Jelačić) is Ja sam na Trgu bana Josipa Jelačića. (Trg in locative case)
“I am leaving from Trg bana Josipa Jelačića” (I am leaving the square of ban Josip Jelačić) is Odlazim s Trga bana Josipa Jelačića. (Trg in genitive case)
A corresponding situation …..
In Split (and many other towns in Croatia) is a street named Ulica kralja Tomislava (Street of King Tomislav). So, regardless of how ulica declines, depending on case, King Tomislav is always in the genitive case (as kralja Tomislava).
So, “I see Ulica kralja Tomislava” is Vidim Ulicu kralja Tomislava. (ulica in accusative, kralj Tomislav in genitive)
“I am on Ulica kralja Tomislava” is Ja sam na Ulici kralja Tomislava. (ulica in locative)
“I am leaving from Ulica kralja Tomislava” is Odlazim s Ulice kralja Tomislava. (ulica in genitive)
And what about … How would you say “This is the end of Ulica kralja Tomislava”?
And “I am going toward Trg bana Josipa Jelačića?”
It is not a mistake that in the name Trg bana Josipa Jelačića I have written bana with a lower case b. In Croatian, titles are not given upper case first letters.
The photo of the main square from above was taken from the Zagreb Eye (or Zagreb 360) observation deck at the top of a skyscraper adjacent to the square.
Answer to challenge:
“This is the end of Ulica kralja Tomislava” is Ovo je kraj Ulice kralja Tomislava. (ulica in genitive)
“I am going toward Trg bana Josipa Jelačića?” is Idem prema Trgu bana Josipa Jelačića. (Trg in dative)
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