Spoken Novegradian

Розговорней новеградескей лизике

22.1 Introduction

Novegradian in its standard written form is quite clearly a Slavic language with numerous Slavic features. Even innovative formations in the Novegradian standard almost always have direct analogues in other Slavic languages. This was further reinforced over the many centuries of Russian domination and influence in the region; even after Novegradian was universally recognized as a distinct language, Russian was still viewed as prestigious, and the formal standard was developed to be more similar to Russian.

In the Soviet period this began to change, a process still continuing in the present day. From 1917 the Novegradian standard began to develop more along its own path and came closer into line with the spoken form of the language around the city of Novegráde Velíkei. A great deal of vocabulary of Uralic origin that had long been in use in speech became standardized at this point.

Although the vocabulary was updated, the grammar in many respects was not. The many years of contact with speakers of Uralic and Baltic languages, in particular Finnish, Karelian, Komi, Estonian, and Latvian, have left a great impact on the language. While the written standard and the higher registers of spoken Novegradian are still clearly Slavic, most registers of the spoken language actually display a strong Uralic quality blended in with the Slavic, resulting in something uniquely Novegradian.

Most of the features described in this section are not limited to casual speech, but are even seen in semiformal speech as well. Only in the formal spoken language are these colloquial features completely absent. When reading in non-formal environments, many speakers will adopt a middle ground, with many aspects of colloquial pronunciation present, but naturally keeping the grammar and vocabulary of the written text.

22.2 Pronunciation

22.2.1 Vowels

The Novegradian vowel system has remained relatively stable. However, there are a few trends to be noted.

The loan-vowel /ɨ/ has stabilized. In the standard, it has a tendency to centralize in certain positions (see Phonology section), but in the colloquial language, the vowel has stabilized a little forward of cardinal [ɨ].

The sequence /ij/ when word-final or before a consonant centralized to [əj], which was then reanalyzed as /aj/ in many speakers’ speech. Therefore words such as английске anglíjske “English” are pronounced англайске angláiske. There is at least one manifestation of this change in the standard language: индайка indáika “turkey (bird)”, derived from Индия Índija “India”, rather than the expected **индийка.

The word-final sequence /ow/ (especially common in the partitive plural ending, though not exclusively) has undergone metathesis, becoming /wo/: нигуо níguo “book-part.pl”.

22.2.2 Consonants

Consonant changes can be groupted into two main categories—systematic changes and reductions.

The most significant change affecting the sound of the language is the fricativization of /l/ in palatalizing environments. In the standard, /l/ is palatalized to [lʲ] before stressed [e æ i]. In the spoken language, this palatalization turned into the [l] first into a lateral fricative, and then into a full fricative [ʑ]: затулите zatulíte “closed” → затужжите zatužíte. This change does not occur when the /l/ is part of a cluster (as in anglíjske above) or when word-initial (standard листе líste “leaf, sheet” → coll. лист líst). Novegradians have taken to using жж to represent the sound [ʑ] from earlier /l/ in speech-imitating writing, since by standard spelling rules ж would almost always be pronounced [zʲ] in the positions the new [ʑ] appears in.

Word-initial /e/ [je] appears to be simplifying to [e] after prepositions that end in a consonant: в еропортѣ v ieropórtě “in the airport” is pronounced [βje.ro.ˈpor.tɪ] in the standard, but [βe.ro.ˈpor.tɪ] colloquially.

Although Novegradian has never been very tolerant of large internal clusters, the process of simplification continues. Clusters involving /ts/ are particularly vulnerable, where the /ts/ weakens to [s] or [z]: традиця tradícia “tradition” → традися tradísia. The more complex the cluster, the greater the simplification: вункся vúnksia “function” → вунся vúnsia.

On the other hand, the rules forbidding final clusters seem to be laxing. Due to the loss of the nominative singular ending on many nouns (discussed later), листе líste “leaf, sheet” is now pronounced лист líst. This same sort of ending deletion now allows word-final voiced consonants: граде gráde “city” → град grád [ˈgrad]; as well as word-final /β/: будове budóve “building” → будов budóv [bu.ˈdoβ].

Other than the above, there are few other changes that can be discussed in this section. Cluster simplifications tend to be irregular and occur on a case-by-case basis, and other changes are more closely connected with a word’s morphology, and so will be discussed in the appropriate section below.

22.3 Verbs

The verbal system has been fairly stable outside of the past tense. The four main changes to be discussed here are minor changes to inflectional endings, the rise of evidentiality, negative marking, and inanimate agreement in the past tense.

22.3.1 Changes in Verbs

Minor phonetic changes to verbal forms include:

Informal spellings such as цидас cidás “he/she reads” (standard цидаст cidást), цида cidá “they read” (standard цидати cidáti) and ес iés “there is” (standard ест iést) are purely orthographic changes. The simplifications they represent have occurred in the standard language as well; the standard simply mandates the more conservative spellings.

The subjunctive mood is also beginning to fall out of use. In colloquial speech it is only required in conditional sentences (“would”), in polite requests, and after verbs such as “want” and “ask” indicating indirect commands. In all other places it has more or less been completely lost, generally having been replaced by the present or future tenses.

A number of irregular verbs have also undergone a degree of regularization. This is most visible with -давати -daváti, the imperfective stem for derivatives of дати “give”, which now conjugates as a regular first conjugation verb: давам, даваш, давас davám, daváś, davás, etc instead of the standard даюн, даеш, дает daiún, daiéś, daiét.

Verbs with a mutation in the first person singular present show a strong tendency to generalize that mutation across the present tense, resulting in forms such as вигьиш vígjiś “you see” (standard видиш vídiś) and лублим lúblim “we love” (standard лубим lúbim).

In addition, the zero-ending imperfective (formed by taking a second conjugation perfective verb and switching it to the first declension and palatalizing the root-final consonant) is falling out of use in favor of the suffixial imperfective -овати. Therefore derived imperfective forms such as позгодоулати pozgodóulati “train” and помагати pomagáti “help” are being replaced by позгодововати pozgodòvováti and помоговати pomògováti.

The verb исти ísti “go” has acquired a prefixed i- in all of its past tense forms by analogy with its infinitive and present/future forms: ишле iślé, ишла iślá, ишло iśló, etc. This is also seen in derived forms, albeit with /j/ instead of /i/: войшле voiślé, войшла voiślá, etc. 1

While standard Novegradian has long allowed the adverb велем vélem “very” to modify verbs directly to intensify the action described, colloquial Novegradian also allows the adjectival superlative prefix най- nai- to be prefixed to verbs for an even stronger intensification: он ше найлублит ón śé nailúblit “he loves this more than anything”.

22.3.2 Evidentiality

Spoken Novegradian has developed a two-way evidential system, distinguishing between the “directive” and “indirective”. This distinction is only made in the past tense; other tenses are unmarked for evidentiality.

The directive is the default unmarked form. It indicates that either some sort of direct evidence exists regarding the truth of a statement, or makes no statement regarding whether or not there is evidence. This ‘evidence’ can be anything directly experienced by the speaker, most often meaning they actually saw it happen.

The indirective must be explicitly marked. It indicates that there is no direct evidence behind the statement, generally meaning the speaker heard about it from other sources. The indirective is formed by one of two clitics that attach to the end of the past-tense verb. Demonstrated with пизати pizáti “write”:

Form Type 1 Type 2
Masc Sg пизаледѣ
Fem Sg пизаладѣ
Inan Sg пизалодѣ
Dl пизалѣдѣ
Pl пизалидѣ

The same clitics are applied regularly to middle voice or passive verbs.

-дѣ -dě is much more commonly seen than -ѕит -dzit, and for that reason is generally written without a hyphen.


In the standard both of these sentences would be rendered Оне пришле Óne priślé.

The language has not yet reached the point where this sort of evidentiality marking is obligatory. That is, a form such as прайшле praiślé is strictly speaking unmarked for evidentiality, while прайшледѣ praiślédě is marked for the indirective. However, some dialects (especially the Siberian dialects) have reached the point where this marking is almost obligatory, meaning that прайшле is usually interpreted as directive.

22.3.3 Negation

The tendency to reduce the negative particle не ne to simply нь- nj- before verbs beginning with a vowel can be traced to the 17th century; the palatal elements comes from the partial occlusion of the older /e/ before another vowel. However, since the 1940s or so this нь has been reanalyzed as an integral part of the verb when negated, and the regular negative particle не has been reinstated, resulting in a double marking of negation on such verbs. This prefixed нь- is in fact treated as an actual inflection, so pronouns and adverbs can be placed in between the regular negative particle не and this negatively-marked verb:

Verbs which do not begin with a vowel are negated regularly. They display no distinct negative form.

22.3.4 Inanimate Agreement in the Past Tense

In colloquial Novegradian, gender agreement for inanimate (non-human non-animal) nouns has been lost in the past tense. The loss of the neuter gender (see below) has freed up the past tense ending -ло -lo, now used for all singular inanimate nouns. Singular animate nouns continue to make the masculine (-ле -le) versus feminine (-ла -la) distinction. In the dual and plural, animate and inanimate nouns continue to share the same endings.

22.3.5 Emphatic Middle Voice

Colloquially, the middle voice suffix -ш(и) -ś(i) may be attached to the imperative of certain verbs to create an emphatic request, typically indicating a pressing need request or frustration. This is allowed whenever the verb itself is intransitive, or when the direct object is the topic, but unexpressed:

22.3.6 The Clitic ‘Be’

The clitic forms of буити has been gaining ground in colloquial Novegradian. In the standard, where the third person pronouns frequently took an enclitic form (оне-и óne-i “he is...”), colloquially this has actually been extended to most subject pronouns, even those for which this form (in origin third person singular) is etymologically inappropriate. Following is a comparison of the standard and colloquial means of expressing a single copular sentence for all personal pronouns. Note that -и has spread to all forms except the third person plural, though it dissimilates to /je/ after another /i/.

Standard Colloquial Meaning
Яс вежне.
Iás véźne.
Ясе-и вежне.
Iasé-i véźne.
I am happy.
Ти вежне.
Tí véźne.
Ти-е вежне.
Tí-je véźne.
You are happy.
Оне-и вежне.
Oné-i véźne.
Оне-и вежне.
Oné-i véźne.
He is happy.
Она-и вежна.
Oná-i véźna.
Она-и вежна.
Oná-i véźna.
She is happy.
Надуа вежни.
Naduá véźni.
Надуа-и вежни.
Naduá-i véźni.
The two of us are happy.
Вадуа вежни.
Vaduá véźni.
Вадуа-и вежни.
Vaduá-i véźni.
You two are happy.
Ондуа вежни.
Onduá véźni.
Ондуа-и вежни.
Onduá-i véźni.
They two of them are happy.
Муи вежни.
Muí véźni.
Муи-е вежни.
Muí-je véźni.
We are happy.
Вуи вежни.
Vuí véźni.
Вуи-е вежни.
Vuí-je véźni.
You are all happy.
Они су вежни.
Oní su véźni.
Они су вежни.
Oní su véźni.
They are happy.

These clitic forms are almost always used for noun + be + adjective sentences and frequently though by no means always in noun + be + noun sentences, and only in the present tense. However, the clitics are never used if the complement is placed before the subject: Вежне яс Véźne iás “I am happy”.

22.3.7 Stress Patterns

The highly complex system of verbal stress patterns in standard Novegradian, consisting of six patterns for regular verbs and many more for irregular ones, shows considerable analogical levelling in colloquial speech. These colloquial patterns often infect even educated or formal speech, suggesting that in modern usage the traditional stress patterns are largely an artificial construct supported by formal education.

Amongst I and E conjugation verbs, stress patterns are reorganizing along lines of aspect. Imperfective verbs gravitate towards stem stress, while perfective verbs gravitate towards ending or hysterodynamic (ending with the exception of the non-1sg present) patterns.

This appears to inconsistently apply to prefixed I or E conjugation verbs. Amongst some verbs it is not unusual to see a stem-stressed unprefixed verb acquire ending or hysterodynamic stress when a prefix is added, but the majority of verbs retain the stress pattern of the unprefixed form regardless of aspect. There is quite a bit of regional variation.

In the A conjugation, ending stress tends to dominate across all verbs, regardless of aspect (although there are very few unprefixed A-conjugation perfectives).

22.4 Nouns

The nominal system has probably seen the most changes in colloquial speech. These can be grouped into five main areas—changes in case endings, the rise of possessive endings, the restructuring of the partitive, the appearance of a new case form, and the loss of the neuter.

22.4.1 Changes in Case Endings

A number of phonetic changes have affected the declension system of nouns. There have been no major overall changes to its structure, only changes to the endings.

The nominative ending -е for fourth declension masculine nouns and -и for all fifth declension nouns has been more or less completely eliminated. Note that any word-final clusters or voiced consonants caused by this drop remain as such, i.e., the clusters do not simplify and the voiced consonants do not devoice. However, if too dificult a cluster would result, the ending remains in an ultrashort reduced form, usually close to [ə̆] (a short schwa). In the chart below this will be marked using ъ, but note that in normative orthography imitating speech no vowel is written at all.


Standard Colloquial Meaning
trip, journey
color, flower

The loss of these endings means that it is no longer possible to tell whether a given noun ending in a consonant belongs to the third, fourth or fifth declension. While there have been no recorded instances of nouns shifting declensions for a large group of people as of yet, this opens the possibility of declension changes in the coming years.

Even some foreign loans have been affected: такси táksi “taxi” → такс táks. Indeclinable nouns, though, do not change: ковѐ kóve “coffee”.

The situation for neuter nouns ending in /e/ (as opposed to /o/) is more confined. Many speakers still preserve the original -e ending, but an increasing number of people are beginning to drop these as well: море móre “sea” → мор mór. The old neuter ending -о and the first declension ending -а are unaffected.

For neuter fourth declension nouns, which have identical nominative and accusative cases, the above changes also apply to the accusative.

Both the partitive singular and partitive plural endings have undergone some changes as well. The singular ending -ок/-ёк/-ек has lenited to -ох/-ёх/-ех -oh/-ioh/-eh. The variant ending -у -u seen in the third and fourth declensions has disappeared in favor of -ох/-ех. The plural ending -оу -ou, as mentioned earlier, has undergone metathesis to -уо -uo. The second declension ending -ёу, however, has not changed.

The final -и in the nominative singular form of a few sixth declension nouns (such as мати máti “mother” and докьи dókji “daughter”) is dropped as well: мат mát, докь dókj. The few sixth declension nouns that end in /e/ in the nominative singular generally change it to /jo/: шѣме śě́me “seed” → шѣмё śě́mio.

There has been a tendency to regularize nouns that have a strange “non-Novegradian” ending in their nominative singular form, most commonly /u/. These are generally changed to /o/: оху óhu “ear” → охо óho.

Finally, there has also been a desire to regularize indeclinable nouns that have been in the language for a while, especially those that refer to everyday sights. There are three primary means of doing so:

22.4.2 Possessive Endings

A common feature in many Uralic languages is that possession can be indicated by a series of possessive affixes instead of using separate possessive adjectives or pronouns. Likely under the influence of these languages, Novegradian has developed a set of possessive affixes that can be used (and actually are required) on a small set of nouns.

These affixes developed from the possessive adjectives, and likely have existed in spoken Novegradian for quite a while. Since the early 18th century possessive pronouns were almost exclusively written after kinship terms, whereas they could be freely written before or after other nouns. Fused forms more like those in modern Novegradian have been attested since the 19th century.

Once possessive adjectives were made to follow kinship terms, the next step they took was to lose the ability to agree with the noun they were modifying, having lost their inflectional endings. They then lost their primary stress, cliticizing to the noun they followed. This cliticization then resulted in the deletion of the final vowel (the nominative singular ending) of the noun if it was unstressed, turning the clitic into a true ending. They continued to undergo phonetic reductions, leaving the modern forms of today.

In Novegradian these endings may only be used on kinship terms (see the list in the appendix) as well as the noun друге drúge “friend”. The basic endings are as follows:

Singular Dual Plural
1st -мо -mo -най -nai -на -na
-наш -naś
2nd -туо -tuo -уай -uai
-вай -vai
-уа -ua
-уаш -uaś
-ва -va
-ваш -vaś
3rd -иево -ievo
-во -vo
-иѣ -iě
-iu -ех -eh

The 1pl “our” and 2pl “you all’s” forms have two variants that exist in free variation, one preserving the final /sʲ/ and one dropping it. Older speakers tend to preserve the /sʲ/ more than drop it, but many younger speakers preserve it as well.

The 2dl and 2pl also have variants with /w/ and /β/. The /w/ form is used when the endings are being added to a base ending in a consonant and the /β/ form when being added to a base ending in a vowel.

The ending -иѣ -iě means “her”. The two variants for “he” follow the same rules as above: -иево -ievo is used after consonants and -во -vo after vowels.

The singular possessive forms of a noun are formed by dropping the final vowel of the nominative singular form (unless the final vowel is stressed, as in жена źená “wife”, or there is a consonant cluster before that vowel, as in шестра śéstra), and then adding the appropriate endings. Using друге drúge “friend”, мама máma “mother/mom”, and шестра śéstra “sister”:

друге Meaning мама Meaning шестра Meaning
1Sg другмо
my friend маммо
my mother шестрамо
my sister
2Sg другтуо
your friend мамтуо
your mother шестратуо
your sister
his friend мамиево
his mother шестраво
his sister
her friend мамиѣ
her mother шестраѣ
her sister
1Dl другнай
us two's friend мамнай
us two's mother шестранай
us two's sister
2Dl другуай
you two's friend мамуай
you two's mother шестравай
you two's sister
3Dl другю
them two's friend мамю
them two's mother шестраю
them two's sister
1Pl другна(ш)
our friend мамна(ш)
our mother шестрана(ш)
our sister
2Pl другуа(ш)
you all's friend мамуа(ш)
you all's mother шестрава(ш)
you all's sister
3Pl другех
their friend мамех
their mother шестраех
their sister

Doubled consonants, such as -мм- in маммо mámmo “my mother”, are pronounced geminate: /mam.mo/.

The plural forms are formed by taking the nominative plural forms of the noun and adding the same endings. The only difference is that the final -ш is always dropped from the 1pl and 2pl endings when the noun is plural. With дружи drúźi “friends” and шестри śéstri “sisters”:

дружи Meaning шестри Meaning
1Sg дружимо
my friends шестримо
my sisters
2Sg дружитуо
your friends шестритуо
your sisters
his friends шестриво
his sisters
her friends шестриѣ
her sisters
1Dl дружинай
us two's friends шестринай
us two's sisters
2Dl друживай
you two's friends шестривай
you two's sisters
3Dl дружию
them two's friends шестрию
them two's sisters
1Pl дружина
our friends шестрина
our sisters
2Pl дружива
you all's friends шестрива
you all's sisters
3Pl дружиех
their friends шестриех
their sisters

The sixth declension nouns мати máti “mother” and докьи dókji “daughter” are also regular, the singular forms being based on the “short” nominative singular and the plural on the “extended” nominative plural: докьмо dókjmo “my daughter”, докьеримо dókjerimo “my daughters”.

Forms such as the above, with possessive suffixes, do not decline for case. These suffixed forms may be used in place of the nominative or animate accusative cases (i.e., as the subject or object of a sentence), or in place of the dative/instrumental when acting as the complement of a copula (e.g., ше-и маммо śé-i mámmo “This is my mother”). However, it may not substitute for the accusative case as the object of a preposition or for the dative/instrumental case in any other function. Outside of the subject, direct object, or complement of a sentence, the full expression noun + at + pronoun must be used: Она содагла ше мамой омне Oná sodaglá śé mámoi omné “She gave this to my mother” (lit. “She gave this to the mother at me”).

In areas with a high level of bilingualism with a Uralic language, particularly Finnish and Komi, it is not unusual to find speakers mixing endings from Novegradian and the local language in conversation. It is therefore not uncommon to hear expressions such as талотуо talotuo for “your house” in Finnish (properly талоси talosi) or ёртъясна jortjasna “our friends” in Komi (properly ёртъясным jortjasnym), or vice versa, hearing expressions in Novegradian such as другни drúgni “my friend” in Finland or татыс tátys “his father” in Komi. Such language mixtures are discouraged, but hard to control in casual conversation.

There are, however, a few quirky and idiomatic uses of possessive suffixes on nouns not denoting kinship. A common such example is the phrase В окмо не багь! V ókmo ne bágj! “Get out of my sight!” (lit. “Don’t be in my eye[s]!”). This particular expression extends to other forms as well: В окнай не багь! V óknai ne bágj! “Get out of our (dl) sight!”.

22.4.3 Possessive Constructions

In colloquial Novegradian, the two possessive structures (о + genitive and plain genitive) have each acquired exclusive uses. The former is used only with animate possessors, the latter with inanimate possessors. Both constructions may either precede or follow the possessed noun.



If the possessed object is also animate and is capable of taking possessive suffixes, the possession is redundantly marked:

This pattern is preserved when the possessor is a pronoun. In the first and second person (which must always be animate), declined forms of the preposition о are used (see Section 22.9.2). In the third person, declined forms of о are used if the possessor is animate, while the regular third person possessives as used in the standard language are used if the possessor is inanimate. As with other possessive phrases, the possessor may come either before or after the possessed.

Spoken Novegradian allows for the object of a plural possessor to be distributive. If there is no distributive particle it is assumed that possession is shared.

The possessor may appear either before or after the possessed, as before, so long as the distributive particle remains before the possessed item; oní po vóz and po vóz oní are identical in meaning. The distributive particle also no longer requires its object to be in the dative/instrumental case; it acts more like a true particle than a preposition.

While the о + genitive form of possession is becoming more and more widespread in Novegradian and is replacing possessive adjectives genitive modifiers, these forms do not allow for standalone genitives, as seen in sentences such as “Ours is better” or “Andréie’s are better”.

If the standalone possessor is a simple pronoun, the declined preposition is converted directly into a definite adjective using the suffix -н- -n-, which can then decline for case and number: омненей omnénei “mine (sg.masc)”, онасня onásnia “ours (sg.fem)”, онинеи onínji “their (pl)”. Speakers are inconsistent with the inherited third person forms; some use евоней ievónei, ѣней iě́nei, ехней iéhnei, etc, while others continue to use ево ievó, ѣ iě́, ех iéh, etc. Since these new adjectives can only be used as standalone genitives and can never directly modify a noun, they have no indefinite forms.

Curiously, this same rule extends to more complicated possessors as well, creating a few more monstrous adjectives such as овандрейней ovandréinei “Andréie’s (masc.sg)”, онаташня onatáśnia “Natáśa’s (fem.sg)”, опетрапетровицнеи opétrapetróvicnji “Pétre Petróvice’s (pl)”, оцарамецислававидораевнеи ocáramecislávavidoráievnji “Tsar Mécislau II’s (pl)”, although this last example is borderline acceptable. Essentially entire genitive phrases are adjectivalized (о Цара Мецислава Видораево o Cára Mecisláva Vidoráievo); if the phrase ends in a vowel, it is dropped or, if an illegal cluster would form, replaced by an epenthetic /e/.

This “adjective” that embeds an entire phrase is limited to the actual possessor noun, appositives hierarchically equal to it (such as titles), and sometimes adjectives. More complex hierarchies, such as additional possessives, are not allowed, so embedding “Kíre’s brother’s” as **обратаокирней obrátaokírnei or something of the sort is impossible. Such a construction would require rephrasing.

Compare the following sentences:

1 Идѣя ов Ивана Николаевица – интересна.
Idě́ia ov Ivána Nikoláievica – interésna.
idea-nom.sg at-v Ieváne-gen Nikoláievice-gen Ø interesting-nom.sg.fem
“Ieváne Nikoláievice’s idea is interesting.”
2 Обаин з идѣй ех – интересни, но овивананиколаевицня шияяс суѣшеюн.
Obájin z idě́i iéh – interésni, no ovivánonikoláievicnia śijáias suě́śeiun.
both-nom from idea-gen.pl their Ø interesting-nom.pl, but at-v-Ieváne-Nikoláievice-adj-nom.sg.fem seem-3sg better-datins.sg.fem.def
“Both of their ideas are interesting, but Ieváne Nikoláievice’s [idea] seems better.”

22.4.4 The Vocative Case

Although the above possessive suffixes are limited to kinship terms for the most part, one form has become generalized to all nouns. The 1sg possessive ending -мо -mo has created a new vocative case in Novegradian, used when calling out to someone.

3 Татмо!
4 Добре еутро, студенкьимо!
Dóbre iéutro, studénkjimo!
good-nom.sg.masc morning-nom.sg, student-voc.pl
“Good morning, class!” (lit. “students”)

The vocative is most commonly seen with names.

5 Еринмо! Ото ти!
Ierínmo! Óto tí!
Ierína-voc! expl you.nom Ø!
“Ierína! There you are!”

22.4.5 The Restructuring of the Partitive

In colloquial spoken Novegradian the partitive has acquired a much more restrictive use, but perhaps a more stable one. It can only be used for the subject or direct object of a sentence.

In the standard, the partitive could be used after non-declining determiners such as многе “many” in oblique cases, or after declining ones such as нѣкотре “several” as long as the adjective appeared definite. Colloquially, the partitive may not appear in oblique cases.

(6) Colloquial: Он ме науѕиле немногами англайсками словесми.
Ón me naudzíle nemnógami angláiskami slóvesmi.

Standard: Оне мене науѕиле немноге английскоу словесоу.
Óne mené naudzíle nemnóge anglíjskou slóvesou.

“He taught me a few English words.”

Instead, the partitive can only be used as the subject of a sentence if preceded by an appropriate determiner, or as the direct object of a sentence with or (more commonly) without a determiner.

Additionally, the inanimate direct object of positive future imperfective verbs (formed with буити + infinitive) tends to take the partitive case in all circumstances, whether the meaning is partitive or not. With animate direct objects, however, the animate accusative continues to be used.

(7) Colloquial: Бадун цидати шей нигох.
Bádun cidáti śéi nígoh.

Standard: Бадун цидати шу нигу.
Bádun cidáti śú nígu.

“I’m going to read this book.”

22.4.6 Loss of the Neuter

In colloquial Novegradian the neuter gender has ceased to exist, having merged fully with the masculine. Even in the standard language the difference in agreement is minimal; the two are distinguished only in the singular past tense of verbs and nominative/animate accusative singular of adjectives. The spoken language has completed the process, with masculine agreement taking over in adjectives and “inanimate” agreement in verbs. Formerly neuter nouns now only constitute a subparadigm within the third and fourth declensions that have a distinct nominative/accusative form from their masculine counterparts.

The former neuter agreement endings have acquired new functions with the demise of the gender as an independent category. The verbal neuter has been reassigned to all inanimates as mentioned earlier, while the indefinite adjectival neuter continues to be used for impersonal adjectives (as in Кладно Kládno “It is cold”). The definite adjectival neuter has been lost.

22.4.7 Example Declensions

To demonstrate the declension of nouns in modern spoken Novegradian, in the chart below are nouns from each of the six declensions.

нига “book” жемя “land” дум “house” мор “sea” нокь “night” мат “mother”
Nom нига níga жемя źémia дум dúm мор mór нокь nókj мат mát
Gen нигѣ nígě жемин źémin думу dúmu мора móra ногьи nogjí матера mátera
Acc нигу nígu жемлу źémlu дум dúm мор mór нокь nókj матера mátera
D/I нигой nígoi жемей źeméi думом dúmom морех moréh нокьех nókjeh матерех materéh
Loc нигѣ nígě жеми źemí думѣ dúmě морѣ mórě ногьи nogjí матере mátere
Lat нигун nígun жемлун źemlún думон dumón морен morén нокьин nókjin материн máterin
Voc нигмо nígmo жемямо źémiamo думмо dúmmo мормо mórmo нокьмо nókjmo матмо mátmo
Nom ниги nígi жемѣ źémě дума dumá мори móri нокьие nókjie матери máteri
Gen ниг níg жемели źeméli дум dúm мор mór нокьей nókjei мадер madér
Acc ниги nígi жемѣ źémě дума dumá мори móri нокьие nókjie мадер madér
D/I нигам nígam жемлам źemlám думам dumám морам morám ногьям nogjiám матерми mátermi
Part нигуо níguo жемлоу źemlóu думуо dúmuo мореу móreu нокьеу nókjeu матеруо máteruo
Loc нигах nígah жемлах źemláh думѣх dumě́h морѣх morě́h нокьих nókjih матерѣх máterěh
Lat ниги nígi жемѣ źémě думи dúmi морѣ mórě нокьи nókji мадери madéri
Voc нигимо nígimo жемѣмо źéměmo думамо dumámo моримо mórimo нокьиемо nókjiemo материмо máterimo

22.4.8 Singularia Tantum

Standard Novegradian, like several of the other Slavic languages, has a sizable number of nouns referring to fruits and vegetables that are singularia tantum, that is, they exist only in the singular and are treated as mass nouns. The colloquial language has continued to generalize this pattern, so that most common fruits and vegetables now act as singularia tantum.

22.5 Adjectives

The function and declension of adjectives have changed very little. A few endings have changed to reflect changes in the nominal system, but other than these, the adjectival system is largely unchanged from the standard.

Several of the nominative definite endings have reduced slightly, having lost the first vowel in the ending. The nominative endings now look like this:

Masculine Feminine (Neuter) Plural
-ей -ei -ia -ие -ie -еи -ji

The neuter form only exists in one specific context—reading from a text that is written in the standard and contains productive neuters in -ое -oie. Otherwise, it has no use in spontaneous speech. The reduced ending has no spelling in Novegradian because it never appears in informal speech-imitating writing.

The nominative definite forms for an adjective like цервене cérvene “red” are therefore: цервеней cérvenei, цервеня cervénia, цервенеи cervénji, and in informal contexts the neuter цервеное cervénoie would be pronounced cervénie when being read from a text.

More significant, however, is that several formally-indeclinable determiners have been converted into normal adjectives, in particular многе mnóge and нѣколке několke “several”. These follow the same rules that older adjective-determiners such as нѣкотре follow in colloquial speech, in that they may be partitive only when indicating the subject or direct object of a verb.

8 Я вигьун многуо лудеу.
Iá vígjun mnóguo lúdeu.
I.nom see-1sg many-part.pl people-part.pl
“I see many people.” (with partitive)
9 Яс говорун о многѣх лудѣх.
Iás govorún o mnógěh lúděh.
I.nom talk-1sg about many-loc.pl people-loc.pl
“I talk about many people.” (without partitive)

22.6 Numerals

22.6.1 Cardinal Numbers

The two most interesting changes to the numeral system are the loss of gender agreement in the inanimate numerals “two” (which has become дова dóva or дов dóv for all genders) and “three” (which has become три trí) and the formation of an animate numeral “one”, еден iedén, which does not decline.

Most numerals undergo some reduction in speech:

Inanimate Animate
1 едне iédne еден iedén
2 дов dóv дуаин duájin
3 три trí троин trójin
4 цетри cétri цетро cétro
5 пет pét пентро péntro
6 шес śés шестро śéstro
7 шень śénj шентро śéntro
8 осн ósn (о)зентро (o)zéntro
9 девит dévit дуестро duéstro
10 дешит déśit ѕестро dzéstro

The /ɲ/ seen in the nominative form of the inanimate numeral seven has spread to all inanimate forms: шень śénj, шеньех śénjeh, шеньем śénjem.

The standard numeral пиздешити pizdéśiti “fifty” has been almost completely replaced by пољста półsta (lit. “half of a hundred”). However, 51, 52, 53, etc, continue to be based on пиздешити, never пољста. The animate form of 50 remains пиздешит(е)ро pizdéśit(e)ro.

In addition, colloquially the concept of “at least X” can be expressed by placing a stressed со immediately after the numerical expression: дешит лудин со déśit ludín só “at least ten people”. This is related to the preposition со “with”, which in this context has acquired a wholly adverbial function.

22.6.2 Ordinal Numbers

The system of ordinal numbers remains largely unchanged except in one aspect. The numbers “one” and “two” have developed regularized ordinals еденне iedénne and дуойне duóine that appear in the ordinal forms of complex numerals only. That is, “first” is still пирве pírve and “second” is still друге drúge, but “twenty-first” is дуадеши еденне duadéśi iedénne and “twenty-second” is дуадеши дуойне duadéśi duóine.

22.7 Pronouns

22.7.1 Personal Pronouns

The newest addition to the pronominal system is a series of unstressed clitic pronouns for the accusative and dative/instrumental cases. They have largely supplanted the full forms, which are now used mainly for emphasis. However, these clitic pronouns can never be used after a preposition.

The accusative clitic pronouns:

Sg Dl Pl
1st ме me най nai нас nas
2nd те te вай vai вас vas
3rd во vo
ю iu их ih
Reflexive ше śe

The dative-instrumental clitic pronouns:

Sg Dl Pl
1st мей mei на na нам nam
2nd тей tei ва va вам vam
3rd му mu
ей iei
ма ma им im
Reflexive шей śei

The two forms listed under as third person singular are masculine and feminine respectively.

The pronoun оба/обѣ “both” has collapsed into a single genderless form as with дова, although it has also acquired a suffix by analogy with the numeral доваин “two” and the former possessive adjectives наин/ваин “us two’s, you two’s”: обаин obájin.

22.7.2 Personal Pronouns and Conjunctions

In colloquial Novegradian, the generalization of ас ás “whereas I” to all persons as some sort of pre-conjunction has become mandatory, whereas in the standard it is optional. The whole array of coordinating conjunction + pronoun combinations in colloquial Novegradian is complex enough to warrant a table. Note in particular the stress shifts in some of the third person forms.

Pronoun И “And” А “Whereas”
и яс
i iás
и ти
i tí
ас а ти
as a tí
ас ан
as án
ас ана
as ána
и надуа
i naduá
а надуа
a naduá
и вадуа
i vaduá
а вадуа
a vaduá
ас андуа
as ándua
и муи
i muí
ас а муи
as a muí
и вуи
i vuí
ас а вуи
as a vuí
ас ани
as áni

Despite the spread of ас as amongst all the personal pronouns, the conjunction remains simply а a before any other part of speech as well as before other types of pronouns. For this reason the highly unique forms in the table above are sometimes termed “conjunctive pronouns”.

22.7.3 Interrogative Pronouns

Spoken Novegradian has seen some reshuffling in its interrogative pronoun system.

Зацем zácem “why?” has largely been replaced by just цем cém, the locative form of цой cói “what?”. Зацем remains in use, however, when referring to “why?” in the sense of “for what goal?”: Зацем ти ишле марнатен? / За млегом “Why do you go to the store? / For milk”. Similarly, кем kém, the locative form of хой hói “who?”, has taken on a meaning of “for whose sake? because of whom?”, as in Кем ти зайшле саймен? “Because of whom did you drop by the party? Who did you drop by the party to see?”.

Two additional interrogatives that have developed in the colloquial language are одцем odсém [ot.ˈtsɛm] “from what, how?” and одкем odkém [o.ˈkʲɛm] “from whom, how?”. The formal language uses the pronoun оскуд oskúd “whence?” for all questions of origin, whether the origin is a place, person, or thing. Colloquial Novegradian, however, distinguishes all three sources:

Одцем, as seen above, typically refers to more abstract sources than either оскуд or одкем.

The interrogative колкѣ kólkě “how many?” has acquired a variant form used only with animate nouns and pluralia tantum, колкеро kólkero, by analogy with animate numerals. Thus where standard Novegradian required the wordier колкѣ пароу штон? kólkě paróu śtón? “how many pairs of pants?”, colloquial Novegradian allows simply колкеро штонеу? kólkero śtóneu?.

22.8 Topicalization

The exact role topicalization plays seems to vary from generation to generation. Nowadays people tend to use it very laxly, often enough that it may appear at a cursory glance to be a definite article. And truly, it has acquired a number of aspects typical of articles. Speakers have become somewhat hesitant to attach the topicalization marker to any indefinite noun, prefering to use it in the following sentence once it is semantically definite.

However, the topical nature of the marker -то is still quite strong. Two main properties make this clear:

22.9 Prepositions

Three main trends have been observed in the colloquial use of prepositions—phonetic simplification of prepositions, the merger of certain prepositions with following pronouns, and the generalization of the three-form preposition system.

22.9.1 Phonetic Simplification of Prepositions

Colloquial Novegradian has eliminated all polysyllabic unanalyzable pronouns by simplifying their pronunciation. Originally slurred, these symplified forms can now be seen in more careful speech as well. Such changes include:

Standard Colloquial Meaning
деля délia дя diá for
нимо nímo ним ním past
огољо ogóło гољ gół around

These types of dramatic reductions have not yet affected prepositions whose etymology is transparent; analogy prevents it from occurring.

The vowel in the prepositions во vo “in”, со so “with”, and ко ko “toward” is often unrounded and lowered, becoming [ʌ].

Before a word beginning in /k/ or /g/, ко ko “to, toward” lenites to хо ho: хо керкевем ho kérkevem “towards the church”.

22.9.2 Preposition ‘Declension’

Another Uralic feature that has entered Novegradian is the beginning of system of prepositional declension, where when certain prepositions are followed by a personal pronoun, the two merge to form a single unit: Standard Novegradian во мнѣ vo mně́ “in me”, colloquial вами vamí. A similar phenominon is seen in Slovenian.

Historically these developed from the reduced ‘clitic’ pronouns (see Section 22.7 above), which once were allowed to follow certain prepositions. Clitic pronouns are not allowed anymore because all previously-allowed forms have merged to form these declining prepositions.

For prepositions that can be used with multiple cases, only the most common case is seen in merged forms. For example, во can be used with the accusative, locative, and lative cases, but the locative meaning is by far the most common. For that reason all merged forms of во carry the locative sense “in”.

There are two basic sets of endings declining prepositions use. One set is derived from the dative/instrumental clitic pronouns, which were used with prepositions that either took the dative/instrumental case or a case very similar to it in terms of pronouns, such as the locative. The other set comes from the accusative clitic pronouns, which similarly were used with prepositions requiring the accusative case or a similar one, particularly the genitive.

These merged forms only developed for a small set of prepositions that were phonetically weak, all of which ended in a vowel. Sometimes vowel changes occur when a preposition takes pronoun endings (such as во vo → вами vamí above), but the reason for such changes are clear; in this case, it was a reanalysis of the [βʌ] pronunciation often seen in the independent preposition.

The following prepositions are allowed to decline: во vo “in”, ко ko “to(ward)”, о o “at”, со so “with”, and дя dia “for”.

во vo
ко ko
со so
о o
дя dia
1Sg вами
2Sg вати
3SgM ванму
3SgF ваней
1Dl вана
2Dl вава
3Dl вама
1Pl ванам
2Pl вавам
3Pl ваним
Reflx ваши

Other meanings of the above prepositions must be written out in full: омне “at me”, but о мнѣ “about me”.

The declined forms of о o have replaced possessive adjectives in modern spoken Novegradian: нига омне níga omné “my book”. They may also be used with a noun with a possessive ending for further emphasis: татмо омне tátmo omné “my father”.

22.9.3 The Three-Form Preposition

Standard Novegradian has three prepositions that each have three forms: во, со, and ко. Before a word beginning with a vowel or /j/, the vowel would drop: в, с, к. Before a third person pronoun, they would acquire a final /n/: вон, сон, кон.

This pattern has spread analogically to a number of other prepositions. Once these prepositions acquired a vowelless form before words beginning with a vowel, analogy soon provided them with the -n suffix as well.

The following prepositions have three forms in colloquial speech:

Preposition Vowelless Extended Meaning
во vo в v вон von in
до do д d дон don up to, until
зе ze з z зен zen from
ко/хо ko/ho к k кон kon to, toward
про pro пр pr прон pron because of
со so с s сон son with

The three new three-form prepositions above have lost their older two-form variant with -в -v. Other prepositions that are two-form in the standard but that do not appear on the above list continue to act as two-form prepositions.

In spoken Novegradian, initial /e/ [je] (in the standard) is always pronounced [e] after a prepositon: в езерѣ [ˈβɛ.ze.rɪ] “in the lake”.

22.9.4 Distributive По

The distributive particle по po in the colloquial language has completely broken with its origin as a preposition. It no longer forces its “object” to take any case, and is now invariable (i.e., it lacks the form пов pov before words beginning with vowels). It simply acts as a modifying particle that always appears before the noun it modifies. If the distributive noun is the subject of a sentence, then the verb can show proper gender and number agreement as well.

1) Compare the standard infinitive or present/future forms войсти vóisti “to enter”, войдун voidún “I will enter”, and so on. This /j/ has always been present in these tenses in the standard; now it is spreading to the past as well.

2) Standard оне авиле óne ávile.

3) Standard оне не авиле óne ne ávile.

4) Standard оне мнѣ авиле óne mně́ ávile.

5) Standard оне не мнѣ авиле óne ne mně́ ávile.

6) Standard буила рѣга builá rěgá.