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Encyclopedia > Declension

In linguistics, declension is the inflection of nouns, pronouns and adjectives to indicate such features as number (typically singular vs. plural) and case (subject, object, and so on). Declension occurs in a great many of the world's languages, and features very prominently in many Indo-European languages, but is much less prominent in English; English nouns only decline to distinguish singular from plural (e.g. book vs. books), English adjectives don't decline at all, and only a few English pronouns show vestiges of case-triggered declension (e.g. subjective he vs. objective him). Linguistics is the scientific study of language. ... In grammar, inflection or inflexion is the modification or marking of a word (or more precisely lexeme) to reflect grammatical (that is, relational) information, such as gender, tense, number or person. ... A noun, or noun substantive, is a part of speech which can co-occur with (in)definite articles and attributive adjectives, and function as the head of a noun phrase. ... In linguistics and grammar, a pronoun is a pro-form that substitutes for a noun phrase. ... An adjective is a part of speech that modifies a noun, usually by describing it or making its meaning more specific. ... In linguistics, the term grammatical number refers to ways of expressing quantity by inflecting words. ... In grammar, the case of a noun or pronoun is its grammatical function in a greater phrase or clause; such as the role of subject, of direct object, or of possessor. ... The subject of a sentence is one of the two main parts of a sentence, the other being the predicate. ... An object in grammar is a sentence element and part of the sentence predicate. ... The Indo-European languages comprise a family of several hundred related languages and dialects [1], including most of the major languages of Europe, as well as many spoken in the Indian subcontinent (South Asia), the Iranian plateau (Southwest Asia), and Central Asia. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ...

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Declension in English

Main article: Declension in English

In Modern English, nouns have distinct singular and plural forms; that is, they decline to reflect their grammatical number. (Consider the difference between book and books.) Additionally, a small number of English pronouns have distinct subjective and objective forms; that is, they decline to reflect their relationship to a verb or preposition. (Consider the difference between he and him, as in "He saw it" and "It saw him.") Further, these pronouns and a few others have distinct possessive forms, such as his. (By contrast, nouns do not have distinct possessive forms; rather, the clitic -'s attaches to a noun phrase to indicate that it serves as a possessor.) The English language once had an extensive declension system similar to modern German or Icelandic. ... Note: This page or section contains IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode. ... This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with adposition. ... Possession, in the context of linguistics, is an asymmetric relationship between two constituents, the referent of one of which (the possessor) possesses (owns, rules over, has as a part, has as a relative, etc. ... In linguistics, a clitic is an element that has some of the properties of an independent word and some more typical of a bound morpheme. ...


Historically, English had a much richer system of declension. Firstly, there were a few more grammatical cases; Modern English's objective case results from a merging of Old English's accusative, dative, and instrumental cases (like a message, him, and post in "I sent him a message via post", respectively). Secondly, the distinction between these cases was visible in all nouns, not just certain pronouns. (Indeed, the modern clitic -'s descends from an affix used to mark Old English's genitive case, the ancestor of Modern English's possessive pronoun forms.) Thirdly, adjectives were declined to reflect the number and case of the nouns they modified; this is called agreement, and is analogous to agreement of certain verb forms in Modern English. (Consider the difference between "I read" and "He reads"; here, read has changed form to agree with its subject.) Fourthly, every noun had a gender, either masculine, feminine, or neuter, which was reflected (via agreement) in adjectives that modified it and pronouns that had it as antecedent. (There were some further complications as well; for example, adjectives had both weak declensions and strong declensions. For more information, see Old English morphology.) Note: This page contains phonetic information presented in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) using Unicode. ... In languages, agreement is a form of cross-reference between different parts of a sentence or phrase. ... In linguistics, grammatical gender is a morphological category associated with the expression of gender through inflection or agreement. ... The morphology of the Old English language is quite different from that of Modern English, predominantly by being much more highly inflected. ...


Latin and Sanskrit

An example of a Latin noun declension is given below, using the singular forms of the word homo (man), which belongs to Latin's third declension.

  • homo "[the] man" [as a subject] (e.g. homo ibi stat the man is standing there)
  • hominis "of [the] man" (e.g. nomen hominis est Claudius the man's name is Claudius)
  • homini "to [the] man" [as an indirect object] (e.g. homini donum dedi I gave a present to the man)
  • hominem "[the] man" [as a direct object] (e.g. hominem vidi I saw the man)
  • homine "[the] man" [in various uses not covered by the above] (e.g. sum altior homine I am taller than the man).

Declension has been analyzed extensively in Sanskrit, where it is known as karaka. Six varieties are defined by Panini, largely in terms of their semantic roles, but with detailed rules specifying the corresponding morphosyntactic derivations: The Sanskrit language ( , ) is a classical language of India, a liturgical language of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, and one of the 23 official languages of India. ... Karaka may refer to the following: Karaka, a tree endemic to New Zealand. ... Panini can refer to: Pāṇini, the 5th century BC Sanskrit grammarian Panini (sandwich), a type of Italian sandwich Panini (stickers), a brand of collectible stickers Giovanni Paolo Panini, an Italian artist This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Theta role. ...

  • agent (kartri, often in the subject position, performing independently)
  • patient (karman, often in object position)
  • means (karaNa, instrument)
  • recipient (sampradAna, similar to dative)
  • source (apAdAna, similar, but not the same, as ablative)
  • locus (adhikaraNa, location or goal)

For example, consider the following sentence: Dative has several meanings. ... In linguistics, the ablative case is a noun case found in several languages, including Latin, Sanskrit and in the Finno_Ugric languages. ...

vrikSh[at] parN[am] bhUm[au] patati
[from] the tree a leaf [to] the ground falls
"a leaf falls from the tree to the ground"

Here leaf is the agent, tree is the source, and ground is the locus, the corresponding declensions are reflected in the morphemes -am -at and -au respectively.


Languages with rich nominal inflection typically have a number of identifiable declension classes, or groups of nouns that share a similar pattern of declension. While Sanskrit has six classes, Latin is traditionally said to have 5 declension classes (see article on Latin declension). Such languages often exhibit free word order, since thematic roles are not dependent on position. Latin is an inflected language, and as such its nouns, pronouns, and adjectives must be declined in order to serve a grammatical function. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Word order. ...


Though English pronouns can have subject and object forms (he/him, she/her), nouns show only a singular/plural and a possessive/non-possessive distinction (e.g., chair, chairs, chair's, chairs'). Note that chair does not change form between "the chair is here" (subject) and "I saw the chair" (direct object). The n-declension is restricted to a few words like ox-oxen, brother-brethren, and child-children, though in Medieval English the s-declension and the n-declension were in stronger competition.


See also

Czech declension describes the declension, or system of grammatically-determined modifications, in nouns, adjectives, pronouns and numerals in the Czech language. ... The English language once had an extensive declension system similar to modern German or Icelandic. ... Icelandic (íslenska) is a North Germanic language spoken in Iceland. ... In grammar, inflection or inflexion is the modification or marking of a word (or more precisely lexeme) to reflect grammatical (that is, relational) information, such as gender, tense, number or person. ... Latin is an inflected language, and as such its nouns, pronouns, and adjectives must be declined in order to serve a grammatical function. ... See also: Slovak language. ... Nouns definie people, places, or things in Slovenian. ... This is a list of grammatical cases as they are used by various inflectional languages that have declension. ...

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Declension - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (877 words)
In linguistics, declension is a paradigm of inflected nouns.
Declension is seen, for example, in many Indo-European languages like Latin, Russian, German and Sanskrit; in Dravidian languages like Tamil; in most Uralic languages, such as Finnish and Hungarian; in Swahili and many others.
Declensions are distinguished by the presence of certain vowels or consonants.
Latin declension - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1219 words)
In addition, the accusative is the same as the nominative in the plural of the third, fourth and fifth declensions (but note the alternative –īs accusative plural ending for i-stem nominals, different from nominative –ēs).
The first (called the "first and second declension") combines the a and o declensions of nouns, with the a endings added when the adjective is feminine, and the o forms for masculines.
The other class for adjectives (called the "third declension") is similar to the third class for nouns, with the important difference that nearly all these adjectives form the ablative singular in -ī, not in -e.
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