Aha! Learning Croatian: Vocabulary #007
Names of towns: a grammatical nightmare
In English, the names of cities and towns are just that – names, or nouns. I think that they might be technically called proper nouns. The names London, Fremantle, Toronto, Beijing, Madrid, Capetown, Islamabad, and Lima are all just nouns.
Well, native English speakers are in for a shock when they come to put Croatian place names into sentences. The names change from sentence to sentence! Yes, they decline according to their role in sentneces.
But before we can decline place names, we have to know whether they are nouns or adjectives, masculine or feminine, and singular or plural.
Just look at some examples:
Names which are singular nouns:
Masculine: Zagreb, Split, Dubrovnik
Feminine: Rijeka, Jelsa, Krapina, Petrinja
Neuter: Dugopolje, Đakovo, Zastražišće, Oroslavje
Names which are plural nouns:
Masculine: Vinkovci, Križevci
Feminine: Plitvice, Vodice
Neuter: I don’t know of any. Do you?
Names which are adjectives, singular:
Names which are adjectives, plural:
I don’t know of any. Do you?
Compound names (two words):
Adjective + noun, singular masculine: Stari Grad, Slavonski Brod, Mali Lošinj
Adjective + noun, singular feminine: Vela Luka, Velika Gorica, Donja Stubica
Adjective + noun, singular neuter: Markovo Polje
Adjective + noun, plural masculine: ?
Adjective + noun, plural feminine: ?
Adjective + noun, plural neuter : Plitvička Jezera
Adjective + adjective, singular masculine: Novi Vinodolski
The endings of some place names do not allow us to unambiguously classify them ……
How do I know that Oroslavje is a singular neuter noun, and not perhaps a plural feminine noun (like
Plitvice)? I was told that is so by Mateja, my Croatian language teacher.
How do I know that Imotski is a singular masculine adjective, and not a plural adjective? Mateja told me so!
I have enough trouble declining “The little girl walked toward the old ladies”! Declining the names of Croatian towns and cities is just another level, and we’ll talk about that in another post: Declension of place names.
Which leads us to another challenge .... It is one thing to understand the declensions of place names, and perhaps to be able to get them right. But picking up by ear place names (declined) when somebody else is speaking is another world altogether.
I talk about this in another post: Picking up place names by ear.
The only thing that I am sure about is that to decline place names in sentences, we have to be able to classify them (eg; plural masculine noun, or feminine singular adjective, ….), as I have done above.
Inače, moji djed se rodio u Vodicama. Just saying ……. (and looking ahead).
A challenge, anyone?
Are you (Am I?) ready to decline place names in sentences? If you would like to test yourself, classify the following place names, following the example of the first one, shown. (How textbook is that!?)
Answers pop up below only after you have had a go .....
Karlovac noun, masculine, singular
Karlovac noun, masculine, singular
Vrboska adjective, feminine, singular
Vrbosko adjective, neuter, singular
Dugi Rat adjective + noun, masculine singular
Pula noun, feminine, singular
Plitvice noun, feminine, plural
Gornja Stubica adjective + noun, feminine singular
Lastovo adjective, neuter, singular
Markovo Polje adjective + noun, neuter singular
Šibenik noun, masculine, singular
Korčula noun, feminine, singular
Križevci noun, masculine, plural
Sveta Nedilja adjective + noun, feminine singular
Bogomolje noun, neuter, singular
Dugo Selo adjective + noun, neuter singular
Čista Mala adjective + noun, feminine singular
Primorski Dolac adjective + noun, masculine singular
Baška Voda adjective + noun, feminine singular
Oskorušno adjective, neuter, singular
Novi Vinodolski adjective + adjective, masculine singular
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