Vocative case

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The vocative case (abbreviated VOC) is the case used for a noun that identifies a person (animal, object etc.) being addressed or occasionally the determiners of that noun. A vocative expression is an expression of direct address by which the identity of the party spoken to is set forth expressly within a sentence. For example, in the sentence "I don't know, John," John is a vocative expression that indicates the party being addressed, as opposed to the sentence "I don't know John" in which "John" is the direct object of the verb "know."

Historically, the vocative case was an element of the Indo-European case system and existed in Latin, Sanskrit and Classical Greek. Many modern Indo-European languages (English, Spanish, etc.) have lost the vocative case, but others retain it, including the Baltic languages, some Celtic languages and most Slavic languages (not the case for Russian).

Some linguists, such as Albert Thumb,[who?] argue that the vocative form is not a case but a special form of nouns not belonging to any case, as vocative expressions are not related syntactically to other words in sentences.[1]

Indo-European languages[edit]

Comparison[edit]

Distinct vocative forms are assumed to have existed in all early Indo-European languages and survive in some. Here is, for example, the Indo-European word for "wolf" in various languages:

Language Nominative Vocative
Proto-Indo-European *wl̩kʷ-o-s *wl̩kʷ-e
Sanskrit vr̩k-a-s vr̩k-a
Classical Greek λύκ-ο-ς

(lúk-o-s)

λύκ-ε

(lúk-e)

Latin lup-u-s lup-e
Lithuanian vilk-a-s vilk-e
Old Church Slavonic вльк-ъ

(vlĭk-ŭ)

вльч-е

(vlĭč-e)

The elements separated with hyphens denote the stem, the so-called thematic vowel of the case and the actual suffix. In Latin, for example, the nominative case is lupus and the vocative case is lupe, but the accusative case is lupum. The asterisk before the Proto-Indo-European words means that they are theoretical reconstructions and are not attested in a written source. The symbol ◌̩ (vertical line below) indicates a consonant serving as a vowel (it should appear directly below the "l" or "r" in these examples but may appear after them on some systems from issues of font display). All final consonants have been lost in Proto-Slavic so both the nominative and vocative Old Church Slavonic forms do not have true endings, only reflexes of the old thematic vowels.

The vocative ending changes the stem consonant in Old Church Slavonic because of the so-called First Palatalization. Most modern Slavic languages that retain the vocative case have altered the ending to avoid the change: Bulgarian вълко occurs far more frequently than вълче.

Baltic languages[edit]

Lithuanian[edit]

In Lithuanian, the form that a given noun takes depends on its declension class and, sometimes, on its gender. There have been several changes in history, the last being the -ai ending formed between the 18th and 19th centuries. The older forms are listed under "(other forms)".

nominative vocative (current standard) vocative (other forms) translation
masculine nouns o-stems vilkas vilke! wolf
jo-stems vėjas vėjau! Old. Lith. vėje! wind
ijo-stems gaidys gaidy! rooster
a-stems viršilà viršìla! sergeant-major
e-stems dėdė dėde! uncle
i-stems vagis vagie! thief
u-stems sūnus sūnau! son
n-stems vanduo vandenie! vanden! water
proper names Jonas Jonai! Old Lith. Jone! John
diminutives sūnelis sūneli! little son
feminine nouns a-stems tautà [sg.] taũta! people
e-stems katė kate! cat
i-stems avis avie! sheep
r-stems duktė dukterie! dukter! daughter
irregular marti marti/marčia! daughter-in-law
proper names Dalià Dãlia!
diminutives sesutė sesut(e)! little sister

Some nouns of the e- and a- stems declentions (both proper ones and not) are stressed differently: "aikš": "aikšte!" (square); "tauta": "tauta!". In addition, nouns of e-stems have an ablaut of long vowel ė in nominative and short vowel e /ɛ/ in vocative. In pronunciation, ė is close-mid vowel [], and e is open-mid vowel /ɛ/.

Celtic languages[edit]

Goidelic languages[edit]

Irish[edit]

The vocative case in Irish operates in a similar fashion to Scottish Gaelic. The principal marker is the vocative particle a, which causes lenition of the initial letter.

In the singular there is no special form, except for first declension nouns. These are masculine nouns that end in a broad (non-palatal) consonant, which is made slender (palatal) to build the singular vocative (as well as the singular genitive and plural nominative). Adjectives are also lenited. In many cases this means that (in the singular) masculine vocative expressions resemble the genitive and feminine vocative expressions resemble the nominative.

The vocative plural is usually the same as the nominative plural except, again, for first declension nouns. In the standard language first declension nouns show the vocative plural by adding -a. In the spoken dialects the vocative plural is often has the same form as the nominative plural (as with the nouns of other declensions) or the dative plural (e.g. a fhearaibh! = Men!)

Gender masculine feminine m f
English the big man the big boy the big woman the big sister John Mary
Sg. Nominative an fear mór an buachaill mór an bhean mhór an deirfiúr mhór Seán Máire
Genitive an fhir mhóir an bhuachalla mhóir na mná móire na deirféar móire Sheáin Mháire
Vocative a fhir mhóir a bhuachaill mhóir a bhean mhór a dheirfiúr mhór a Sheáin a Mháire
Pl. Nominative na fir móra na buachaillí móra na mná móra na deirfiúracha móra
Genitive na bhfear mór na mbuachaillí móra na mban mór na ndeirfiúracha móra
Vocative a fheara móra a bhuachaillí móra a mhná móra a dheirfiúracha móra
Scottish Gaelic[edit]

The vocative case in Scottish Gaelic follows the same basic pattern as Irish. The use of the vocative, aside from literary usage, is mostly confined to personal names; it then is obligatory. The vocative case causes lenition of the initial consonant of nouns. In addition, masculine nouns are slenderized if possible (that is, in writing, an 'i' is inserted before the final consonant). Also, the particle a is placed before the noun unless it begins with a vowel (or f followed immediately by a vowel, which becomes silent when lenited). Examples of the use of the vocative personal names (as in Irish):

Nominative case Vocative case
Caitrìona a Chaitrìona
Dòmhnall a Dhòmhnaill
Màiri a Mhàiri
Seumas a Sheumais
Ùna Ùna
a choin

The name "Hamish" is just the English spelling of "Sheumais", and thus is actually a Gaelic vocative. Likewise, the name "Vairi" is an English spelling of "Mhàiri".

Manx[edit]

The basic pattern is similar to Irish and Scottish. The vocative is confined to personal names, in which it is common. Foreign names (not of Manx origin) are not used in the vocative. The vocative case causes lenition of the initial consonant of names. It can be used with the particle "y".

Nominative case Vocative case
Juan y Yuan
Donal y Ghonal
Moirrey y Voirrey
Catreeney y Chatreeney
John John

The name "Voirrey" is actually the Manx vocative of "Moirrey" (Mary).

Brythonic languages[edit]

Welsh[edit]

Welsh marks the vocative by lenition of the initial consonant of the word, with no obligatory particle. Despite its use being less common, it is still used in formal address: the common phrase foneddigion a boneddigesau means "gentlemen and ladies", with the initial consonant of boneddigion undergoing a soft mutation; the same is true of gyfeillion ("[dear] friends") in which cyfeillion has been lenited.

Cornish[edit]

Cornish has retained the vocative case, with the particle the same as in Scottish Gaelic and Irish, a. It causes the second state mutation (lenition) in the next word. As in Manx, foreign names are often not lenited after the a.

Breton[edit]

Breton seems to have lost the vocative.

Germanic languages[edit]

English[edit]

Modern English lacks a formal (morphological) vocative case. English commonly uses the nominative case for vocative expressions but sets them off from the rest of the sentences with pauses as interjections, rendered in writing as commas. Two common examples of vocative expressions in English are the phrases "Mr. President" and "Madam Chairwoman".

Some traditional texts use Jesu, the Latin vocative form of Jesus. One of the best-known examples is Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring.

Historically, and in poetic or rhetorical speech, vocative phrases in English were prefaced by the word O, as is often seen in the King James Version of the Bible: "O ye of little faith" (in Matthew 8:26). Another example is the recurrent use of the phrase "O (my) Best Beloved" by Rudyard Kipling in his Just So Stories. The use of O may be considered a form of clitic and should not be confused with the interjection Oh (The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, section 5.197). However, as the Oxford English Dictionary points out, "O" and "Oh" were originally used interchangeably. With the advent of "Oh" as a written interjection, however, "O" is the preferred modern spelling in vocative phrases.[citation needed]

See also Apostrophe (figure of speech).

German dialects[edit]

In some German dialects, like the Ripuarian dialect of Cologne, it is common to use the (gender-appropriate) article before a person's name. In the vocative phrase then the article is, as in Venetian, omitted. Thus, the determiner precedes nouns in all cases except the vocative. Any noun not preceded by an article or other determiner is in the vocative case. It is most often used to address someone or some group of living beings, usually in conjunction with an imperative construct. It can also be used to address dead matter as if the matter could react or to tell something astonishing or just happening such as "Your nose is dripping."

Colognian examples:

  • Do es der Päul — Päul, kumm ens erövver!
    There is the Paul. Paul, come over [please]!
  • Och do leeven Kaffepott, do bes jo am dröppe!
    O [my] dear coffee pot, you are dripping!
  • Pääde, jooht loufe! Un di Pääde jonn loufe.
    Horses, run away! And the horses are running away.

Icelandic[edit]

The vocative case generally does not appear in Icelandic, but a few words retain an archaic vocative declension from Latin, such as the word Jesús, which is Jesú in the vocative. That comes from Latin, as the Latin word for Jesus is Jesus and its vocative is Jesu.

That is also the case in traditional English (without the accent) (see above):

  • Jesús (nominative) elskar þig.
    Jesus loves you.
  • Ó Jesú (vocative), frelsari okkar.
    O Jesus, our saviour.

The native words sonur ("son") and vinur ("friend") also sometimes appear in the shortened forms son and vin in vocative phrases. Additionally, adjectives in vocative phrases are always weakly declined, but elsewhere with proper nouns, they would usually be declined strongly:

  • Kær vinur (strong adjective, full noun) er gulli betri.
    A dear friend is better than gold.
  • Kæri vin (weak adjective, shortened noun), segðu mér nú sögu.
    Dear friend, tell me a story.

Greek[edit]

In Ancient Greek, the vocative case is usually identical to the nominative case, with the exception of masculine second-declension nouns (ending in -ος) and third-declension nouns.

Second-declension masculine nouns have a regular vocative ending in -ε. Third-declension nouns with one syllable ending in -ς have a vocative that is identical to the nominative (νύξ, night); otherwise, the stem (with necessary alterations, such as dropping final consonants) serves as the vocative (nom. πόλις, voc. πόλι; nom. σῶμα, gen. σώματος, voc. σῶμα). Irregular vocatives exist as well, such as nom. Σωκράτης, voc. Σώκρατες.

In Modern Greek, second-declension masculine nouns still have a vocative ending in -ε; however, the accusative case is often used as a vocative in informal speech: "Έλα εδώ, Χρήστο" "Come here, Christos" instead of "...Χρήστε". Other nominal declensions use the same form in the vocative as the accusative in formal or informal speech, with the exception of learned Katharevousa forms that are inherited from Ancient Greek Ἕλλην (Demotic Έλληνας, "Greek man"), which have the same nominative and vocative forms instead.[2]

Indo-Iranian languages[edit]

Kurdish[edit]

Kurdish has a vocative case. For instance, in the dialect of Kurmanji, it is created by adding the suffix of -o at the end of masculine words and the suffix at the end of feminine ones. In the Jafi dialect of Sorani it is created by adding the suffix of -i at the end of names.

Kurmanji Jafi
Name Kurdish vocative Name Kurdish vocative
Sedat (m) Sedo Bêstûn Bêsi
Wedat (m) Wedo Reşîd Reşi
Murat (m) Muro Sûret Sûri
Baran (m) Baro Fatime Fati
Gulistan (f) Gulê Firset Firsi
Berfîn (f) Berfê Nesret Nesi

Instead of the vocative case, forms of address may be created by using the grammatical particles (feminine) and lo (masculine):

Name Vocative
Azad (m) Lo Azad!
Diyar (m) Lo Diyar!

Sanskrit[edit]

In Sanskrit, the vocative (सम्बोधन विभक्ति sambodhana vibhakti) has the same form as the nominative except in the singular. In vowel-stem nouns, if there is a –ḥ in the nominative, it is omitted and the stem vowel may be altered: –ā and –ĭ become –e, –ŭ becomes –o, –ī and –ū become short and –ṛ becomes –ar. Consonant-stem nouns have no ending in the vocative:

Noun Singular Dual Plural
बाल (bāla, masc., 'boy') हे बाल he bāla हे बालौ he bālau हे बालाः he bālāḥ
लता (latā, fem., 'creeper') हे लते he late हे लते he late हे लताः he latāḥ
फलम् (phalam, neut., 'fruit') हे फलम् he phalam हे फले he phale हे फलानि he phalāni

The vocative form is the same as the nominative except in the masculine and feminine singular.

Slavic languages[edit]

Bulgarian[edit]

Unlike other Slavic languages except Macedonian, Bulgarian has lost case marking for nouns. However, Bulgarian preserves vocative forms. Traditional male names usually have a vocative ending.

nominative case
(name)
vocative case
Петър
Petar
Петре
Petre
Тодор
Todor
Тодоре
Todore
Иван
Ivan
Иване
Ivane

More-recent names and foreign names may have a vocative form but it is rarely used (Ричарде, instead of simply Ричард Richard, sounds unusual to native speakers).

Vocative phrases like господин министре (Mr. Minister) have been almost completely replaced by nominative forms, especially in official writing. Proper nouns usually also have vocative forms, but they are used less frequently. Here are some proper nouns that are frequently used in vocative:

english word nominative case vocative case
God Бог
Bog
Боже
Bozhe
Lord Господ
Gospod
Господи
Gospodi
Jesus Christ Исус Христос
Isus Hristos
Исусе Христе
Isuse Hriste
comrade другар
drugar
другарю
drugaryu
priest поп
pop
попе
pope
frog жаба
zhaba
жабо
zhabo
fool глупак
glupak
глупако
glupako

Vocative case forms also normally exist for female given names:

nominative case
(name)
vocative case
Елена
Elena
Елено
Eleno
Пена
Pena
Пено
Peno
Елица
Elitsa
Елице
Elitse
Радка
Radka
Радке
Radke

Except for forms that end in -е, they are considered rude and are normally avoided. For female kinship terms, the vocative is always used: {|

english word nominative case vocative case
Grandmother Баба
Baba
Бабо
Babo
Mom Майка/Мама
Mayka/Mama
Майко/Мамо
Mayko/Mamo
Aunt Леля
Lelya
Лельо
Lelyo
Sister Сестра
Sestra
Сестро
Sestro

Czech[edit]

In Czech, the vocative (vokativ, or 5. pád - "the fifth case") usually differs from the nominative in masculine and feminine nouns in the singular.

Nominative case Vocative case
Feminine
paní Eva (Ms Eve) paní Evo!
Marie (Mary) Marie!
knížka (little book) knížko!
Masculine
pan profesor (Mr Professor) pane profesore!
Ježíš (Jesus) Ježíši!
Marek (Mark) Marku!
Jiří (George) Jiří!
pan Dobrý (Mr Good) pane Dobrý!

In informal speech, it is common but grammatically incorrect[3]) for the male surname (see also Czech name) is in the nominative to address men: pane Novák! instead of pane Nováku! (Female surnames are adjectives, and their nominative and vocative have the same form: see Czech declension.) Using the vocative is strongly recommended in official and written styles.

Polish[edit]

In Polish, the vocative (wołacz) is formed with feminine nouns usually taking -o except those that end in -sia, -cia, -nia, and -dzia, which take -u, and those that end in -ść, which take -i. Masculine nouns generally follow the complex pattern of the locative case, with the exception of a handful of words such as Bóg → Boże ("God"), ojciec → ojcze ("father") and chłopiec → chłopcze ("boy"). Neuter nouns and all plural nouns have the same form in the nominative and the vocative:

Nominative case Vocative case
Feminine
Pani Ewa (Mrs. Eve) Pani Ewo! (Mrs. Eve!)
Ewusia (diminutive form of Ewa) Ewusiu!
ciemność (darkness) ciemności!
książka (book) książko!
Masculine
Pan profesor (Mr. Professor) Panie profesorze! (Mr. Professor!)
Krzysztof (Christopher) Krzysztofie! (Christopher!)
Krzyś (Chris) Krzysiu! (Chris!)
wilk (wolf) wilku!
człowiek (human) człowieku! / człowiecze! (poet.)

The latter form of the vocative of człowiek (human) is now considered poetical.

The nominative is increasingly used instead of the vocative to address people with their proper names. In other contexts the vocative remains prevalent. It is used:

  • To address an individual with the function, title, other attribute, family role
    • Panie doktorze (Doctor!), Panie prezesie! (Chairman!)
    • Przybywasz za późno, pływaku (You arrive too late, swimmer)
    • synu (son), mamo (mum), tato (dad)
  • After adjectives, demonstrative pronouns and possessive pronouns
    • Nie rozumiesz mnie, moja droga Basiu! (You don't understand me, my dear Basia!)
  • To address an individual in an offensive or condescending manner:
    • Zamknij się, pajacu! ("Shut up, you buffoon!")
    • Co się gapisz, idioto? ("What are you staring at, idiot!")
    • Nie znasz się, baranie, to nie pisz ("Stop writing, idiot, you don't know what you're talking about!")
    • Spadaj, wieśniaku! ("Get lost, peasant!")
  • After "Ty" (second person singular pronoun)
    • Ty kłamczuchu! (You liar!)
  • Set expressions:
    • (O) Matko!, (O) Boże!, chłopie

The vocative is also often employed in affectionate and endearing contexts such as Kocham Cię, Krzysiu! ("I love you, Chris!") or Tęsknię za Tobą, moja Żono ("I miss you, my wife."). In addition, the vocative form sometimes takes the place of the nominative in informal conversations: Józiu przyszedł instead of "Józio przyszedł" ("Joey's arrived"). The nominative may take the place of the vocative as well: Ania, chodź tu! instead of Aniu, chodź tu! ("Anne, come here!").

Russian[edit]

Historic vocative[edit]

The historic Slavic vocative has been lost in Russian and is now used only in archaic expressions. Several of them, mostly of religious origin, are common in colloquial Russian: "Боже!" (Bože, vocative of "Бог" Bog, "God") and "Боже мой!" (Bože moj, "My God!"), and "Господи!" (Gospodi, vocative of "Господь" Gospodj, "Lord"), which can also be expressed as "Господи Иисусе!" (Gospodi Iisuse!, Iisuse vocative of "Иисус" Iisus, "Jesus"). The vocative is also used in prayers: "Отче наш!" (Otče naš, "Our Father!"). Such expressions are used to express strong emotions (much like English "O my God!"), and are often combined ("Господи, Боже мой"). More examples of the historic vocative can be found in other Biblical quotes that are sometimes used as proverbs: "Врачу, исцелися сам" (Vraču, iscelisia sam, "Physician, heal thyself", nom. "врач", vrač). Vocative forms are also used in modern Church Slavonic. The patriarch and bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church are addressed as "владыко" (vladyko, hegemon, nom. "владыка", vladyka). In the latter case, the vocative is often also incorrectly used for the nominative to refer to bishops and patriarchs.

New vocative[edit]

In modern colloquial Russian, given names and a small family of terms often take a special "shortened" form that some linguists consider to be a re-emerging vocative case.[4] It is used only for given names and nouns that end in -a and , which are sometimes dropped in the vocative form: "Лен, где ты?" ("Lena, where are you?"). It is basically equivalent to "Лена, где ты?" but suggests a positive personal and emotional bond between the speaker and the person being addressed. Names that end in then acquire a soft sign: "Оль!" = "Оля!" ("Olga!"). In addition to given names, the form is often used with words like "мама" (mom) and "папа" (dad), which would be respectively shortened to "мам" and "пап". The plural form is used with words such as "ребят", "девчат" (nom: "ребята", "девчата" guys, gals).

Such usage differs from the historic vocative, which would be "Лено" and is not related.

Serbo-Croatian[edit]

The vocative is widely used in Serbo-Croatian:

"Miloš"
Miloše
"Maša"
"Mašo"
"čovek" or "čovjek" (man)
"čoveče" or "čovječe"

Slovak[edit]

Until the end of the 1980s, the existence of a distinct vocative case in Slovak was recognised and taught at schools. Today, the case is no longer considered to exist except for a few archaic examples of the original vocative remaining in religious, literary or ironic contexts:

  • Boh (God) m.: Bože
  • Kristus (Christ) m.: Kriste
  • pán (lord) m.: pane
  • otec (father) m.: otče
  • človek (man, human) m.: človeče
  • chlap (man) m.: chlape
  • chlapec (boy) m.: chlapče
  • Ježiš (Jesus) m.: Ježišu
  • priateľ (friend) m.: priateľu
  • brat (brother) m.: bratu, bratku
  • syn (son) m.: synu, synku
  • mama (mother) f.: mamo
  • žena (woman) f.: ženo

In everyday use, the Czech vocative is sometimes retrofitted to certain words:

  • majster (maestro) m.: majstre
  • šéf (boss) m.: šéfe
  • švagor (brother-in-law) m.: švagre

Another stamp of vernacular vocative is emerging, presumably under the influence of Hungarian for certain family members or proper names:

  • otec (father) m.: oci
  • mama (mother) f.: mami
  • babka (grandmother, old woman) f.: babi
  • Paľo (Paul, domestic form) m.: Pali
  • Zuza (Susan, domestic form) f.: Zuzi

Ukrainian[edit]

Ukrainian has retained the vocative case mostly as it was in Proto-Slavic:[5]

  • бог [boh] (god) m.: боже [bože]
  • друг [druh] (friend) m.: друже [druže]
  • матуcя [matusia] (minnie) f.: матусю [matusiu]
  • неня [nenia] (nanny) f.: нене [nene]
  • бабця [babcia] (granny) f.: бабцю [babciu]
  • батько [batjko] (father) m.: батьку [batjku]
  • брат [brat] (brother) m.: брате [brate]
  • син [syn] (son) m.: сину [synu]
  • жінка [žinka] (woman) f.: жінко [žinko]
  • дружина [družyna] (wife) f.: дружино [družyno]
  • дівчина [divčyna] (girl) f.: дівчино [divčynо]
  • сестра [sestra] (sister) f.: сестро [sestro]
  • людина [liudyna] (human) f.: людино [liudyno]
  • чоловік [čolovik] (man) m.: чоловіче [čoloviče]
  • хлопець [chlopecj] (boy) m.: хлопче [chlopče]
  • святий отець [sviatyj otecj] (Holy Father) m.: святий отче [sviatyj otče]
  • приятель [pryjatelj] (fellow) m.: приятелю [pryjateliu]
  • пан [pan] (sir, Mr.) m.: пане [pane]

There are some exceptions:

  • мати [maty] (mother) f.: мамо [mamo]
  • божа матір [boža matir] (God's Mother) f.: матір божа [matir boža]

It is used even for loanwords and foreign names:

  • Джон [Džon] (John) m.: Джоне [Džone]
  • пан президент [pan presydent] (Mr. President) m.: пане президенте [pane presydente]

It is obligatory for all native names:

  • Володимир [Volodymyr] m.: Володимире [Volodymyre]
  • Святослав [Sviatoslav] m.: Святославе [Sviatoslave]
  • Мирослава [Myroslava] f.: Мирославо [Myroslavо]
  • Ганна [Hanna] f.: Ганно [Hanno]

It is used for patronymics:

  • Андрій Васильович [Andrij Vasylovyč] m.: Андрію Васильовичу [Andriju Vasyliovyču]
  • Ірина Богданівна [Iryna Bohdanivna] f.: Ірино Богданівно [Iryno Bohdanivno]

Latin[edit]

In Latin, the form of the vocative case of a noun is often the same as the nominative. Exceptions include singular second-declension nouns that end in -us in the nominative case. An example would be the famous line from Shakespeare, "Et tu, Brute?" (commonly translated as "And you, Brutus?"): Brute is the vocative case and Brutus would be the nominative.

Nouns that end in -ius, instead of the expected -ie end with . Thus, Julius becomes Julī and filius becomes filī. The shortening does not shift the accent so the vocative of Vergilius is Vergilī, with accent on the second syllable even though it is short. Nouns that end in -aius and -eius have vocatives that end in -aī or -eī even though the i in the nominative is consonantal.

First-declension and second-declension adjectives also have distinct vocative forms in the masculine singular if the nominative ends in -us, with the ending -e. Adjectives that end in -ius have vocatives in -ie so the vocative of eximius is eximie.

Nouns and adjectives that end in -eus do not follow the rules above. Meus forms the vocative irregularly as or meus, while Christian deus does not have a distinct vocative and retains the form deus. "My God!" in Latin is thus mī deus!, but Jerome's Vulgate consistently used deus meus as a vocative. Classical Latin did not use a vocative of deus either (in reference to pagan gods, the Romans used the suppletive form dive.

Romance languages[edit]

West Iberian languages[edit]

Portuguese drops the article to form the vocative. The vocative is always between commas and, like in many other languages, a particle Ó is commonly used:

  • Ó Jesus, ajude-nos!
    O Jesus, help us!
  • Menino, vem cá!
    Boy, come here!
  • Foi ela, Rita, quem me contou.
    It was her, Rita, who told me.
  • Não faças isso, amigo.
    Don't do that, [my] friend.

In Extremaduran and Fala, some post-tonical vowels open in vocative forms of nouns, a new development that is unrelated to the Latin vocative case.

Catalan[edit]

Catalan drops the article to form the vocative.

French[edit]

Like English, French sometimes uses (or historically used) a particle Ô to mark vocative phrases rather than by change to the form of the noun. A famous example is the title and first line of the Canadian national anthem, O Canada, a vocative phrase addressing Canada.

Romanian[edit]

The vocative case in Romanian is partly inherited, occasionally causing other morphophonemic changes (see also the article on Romanian nouns):

  • singular masculine/neuter: "-e" as in
    • "om": "omule!" (man, human being),
    • "băiat": "băiete!" or "băiatule!" (boy),
    • "văr": "vere!" (cousin),
    • "Ion": "Ioane!" (John);
  • singular feminine: "-o" as in
    • "soră": "soro!" (sister),
    • "nebună": "nebuno!" (mad woman),
    • "deșteaptă": "deșteapto!" (smart one (f), often used sarcastically),
    • "Ileana": "Ileano!" (Helen);

Since there is no -o vocative in Latin, it must have been borrowed from Slavic: compare the corresponding Bulgarian forms сестро (sestro), откачалко (otkachalko), Елено (Eleno).

  • plural, all genders: "-lor" as in
    • "fraţi": "fraţilor!" (brothers),
    • "boi": "boilor!" (oxen, used toward people as an invective),
    • "doamne şi domni": "doamnelor şi domnilor!" (ladies and gentlemen).

In formal speech, the vocative often simply copies the nominative/accusative form even when it does have its own form. That is because the vocative is often perceived as very direct and so can seem rude.

Venetian[edit]

Venetian has lost all case endings, like most other Romance languages. However, with feminine proper names the role of the vocative is played by the absence of the determiner: the personal article ła / l' usually precedes feminine names in other situations, even in predicates. Masculine names and other nouns lack articles and so rely on prosody to mark forms of address:

Case Fem. proper name Masc. proper name and other nouns
Nom./Acc. ła Marìa ła vien qua / varda ła Marìa!

Mary comes here / look at Mary!

Marco el vien qua / varda Marco!

Mark comes here / look at Mark!

Vocative Marìa vien qua! / varda, Marìa!

Mary come here! / look, Mary!

Marco vien qua! / varda, Marco!

Mark come here! / look, Mark!

Predictive constructions:

Case Fem. proper name Masc. proper name and other nouns
Pred. so' mi ła Marìa

I am Mary

so' mi Marco / so' tornà maestra

I am Mark / I am a teacher again

Vocative so' mi Marìa!

It's me, Mary!

so' mi, Marco! / so' tornà, maestra!

it's me, Mark! / I am back, teacher!

Arabic[edit]

Properly speaking, Arabic has only three cases: nominative, accusative and genitive. However, a meaning similar to that conveyed by the vocative case in other languages is indicated by the use of the particle (Arabic: يا‎‎) placed before a noun inflected in the nominative case (or accusative if the noun is in construct form). In English translations, it is often translated literally as Oh instead of being omitted.[6][7]

Beijing Mandarin[edit]

In the Beijing dialect of Mandarin Chinese, to express strong feelings (especially negative ones) to someone, a stressed "ei" is added to the word you address. The most common word added to "ei" to "孙子" (sunzi, lit. "grandson"), to form a sunzei, which means approximately "Hey you nasty one!"

Georgian[edit]

In Georgian, the vocative case is used to address the second-person singular and plural. For word roots that end with a consonant, the vocative case suffix is -o, and for the words that end with a vowel, it is -v like in Old Georgian, but for some words, it is considered archaic. For example, kats- is the root for the word "man". If one addresses someone with the word, it becomes katso.

Adjectives are also declined in the vocative case. Just like nouns, consonant final stem adjectives take the suffix -o in the vocative case, and the vowel final stems are not changed:

lamazi kali "beautiful woman" (nominative case)
lamazo kalo! "beautiful woman!" (vocative case)

In the second phrase, both the adjective and the noun are declined. The personal pronouns are also used in the vocative case. Shen "you" (singular) and tkven "you" (plural) in the vocative case become she!' and tkve, without the -n. Therefore, one could, for instance, say, with the declination of all of the elements:

She lamazo kalo! "you beautiful woman!"

Korean[edit]

The vocative case in Korean is commonly used with first names in casual situations by using the vocative case marker(호격 조사) 아 (a) if the name ends in a consonant and 야 (ya) if the name ends with a vowel:[8]

미진이 집에 가? (Mijini jibe ga?)
"Is Mijin going home?"

미진, 집에 가? (Mijina, jibe ga?)
"Mijin, are you going home?

동배 뭐 해? (Dongbae mwo hae?)
What is Dongbae doing?

동배, 뭐 해? (Dongbaeya, mwo hae?)
"Dongbae, what are you doing?

In formal Korean, the marker 여 (yeo) or 이여 (iyeo) is used, the latter if the root ends with a consonant. Thus, a quotation of William S. Clark would be translated as follows:

소년이여 야망을 가져라. (sonyeoniyeo, yamangeul gajyeora.)
Boys, be ambitious.

In Middle Korean, there were three honorific classes of the vocative case:[9]

Form Honorific
High
아/야 Plain
여/이여 Low with added nuance of exclamation

References[edit]

  1. ^ Russian: Реформатский А. А. Введение в языковедение / Под ред. В. А. Виноградова. — М.: Аспект Пресс. 1998. С. 488. ISBN 5-7567-0202-4
  2. ^ Holton, David, Irene Philippaki-Warburton, and Peter A. Mackridge, Greek: A Comprehensive Grammar of the Modern Language (Routledge, London and New York:1997), pp. 49-50 ISBN 0415100011
  3. ^ ČRo: Oslovování v češtině
  4. ^ Lillian A. Parrott, Université Paris 8. Vocatives and other direct address forms: a contrastive study. A. Grønn & I. Marijanovic (eds.) Russian in Contrast, Oslo Studies in Language 2(1), 2010. 211–229. (ISSN 1890-9639)
  5. ^ Methodical instructions for learning vocative case in Ukrainian professional speech
  6. ^ Jiyad, Mohammed. "A Hundred and One Rules! A Short Reference to Arabic Syntactic, Morphological & Phonological Rules for Novice & Intermediate Levels of Proficiency" (DOC). Welcome to Arabic. Retrieved 2007-11-28. 
  7. ^ "Lesson 5". Madinah Arabic. Retrieved 2007-11-28. 
  8. ^ 선철, 김 (May 2005). "‘꽃아’의 발음". 새국어소식 / 국립국어원. 
  9. ^ 양영희 (2009-12-01). "중세국어 호격조사의 기능 고찰". 사회언어학. 17. ISSN 1226-4822.