15250[Slovak-World] Re: Slovak grammar strikes again
- Mar 1, 2006Thanks for the thorough explanation. This time it should stick in my brain.
>>> votrubam@... 03/01/06 2:32 PM >>>I know that to/toto ("that"/"this") is clear, Helen, just a note: I'll
> "Toto su milac~ikovia Mariana Hossu"
> "Toto su kandidatky na Divoku kartu"
> Why "toto"????
use _to_ in the examples, but they apply to _toto_ as well.
Unlike English, Slovak handles the "pointing subject" as genderless
On the one hand, English and Slovak do the same thing in:
Eva is a waitress.
Eva je casnicka.
The subject, _Eva_, is a feminine *noun* in the singular, and that is
copied in _waitress/casnicka_ (the subject complement).
But English and Slovak differ when the subject in such sentences
(subject + byt~ + subject complement) is a "pointing" *pronoun*:
He is a waiter.
She is a waitress.
It is a car.
They are waiters.
These are cars.
As we begin to say such a sentence, we don't have a noun yet. English
anticipates the gender of the subject complement and assigns the
subject=pronoun that gender in advance.
Slovak takes the opening pronoun as an act of pointing your finger --
stretch your arm and touch the book in order to point at it, to single
it out. There's no gender in this act, the object, book has no
grammatical gender. Only nouns have gender and we don't have a noun
yet as we begin the statement. Without a noun (= without grammatical
gender and number) Slovak defaults to _to_:
To je casnik.
To je casnicka.
To je auto.
To su casnici.
To su auta.
Imagine the opening as not uttering anything -- just silently pointing
your finger at the object/person you're going to name. The gender and
number then kick in with the verb:
To je ten casnik. To bol casnik. To bol ten casnik.
To je ta casnicka. To bola casnicka. To bola ta casnicka.
To boli ti casnici.
It happens in English, too, in statements like "It's that man, call
the police!" Here _it_ is also like pointing your finger. And _it_
is the rule in the English "It's me," or in the ultra-correct "It is
I," -- it would be amusing to say "I am I," in such instances.
But the pointing, gender/number-insensitive _to_ is the rule in Slovak
sentences of the type "pointing pronominal subject + byt~ + subject
votruba "at" pitt "dot" edu
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