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Der slavische Vokativ im europäischen Kontext

Tanja Anstatt

The current study provides an overview of the use of the vocative in European languages and the tendencies in its development. The vocative, understood as the morphological marking of forms of address, occurs in only some European languages, more specifically in an area that will be called here the East European Vocative Belt.

The languages spoken in this area are the Slavic and non-Slavic languages of the Balkans, the central and northern European Slavic languages, as well as the Baltic languages. In these languages there is, on the one hand, an old vocative that has retained the morphological form inherited from Indoeuropean. In some Slavic languages, the old vocative has disappeared, while in others, it still exists, in some cases having undergone certain changes in form. Alongside the old vocative, there have been various new developments in vocative forms, which can be interpreted as the beginning of a new cycle (in terms of grammaticalization theory).

These new developments can be classified as ‘northern’ and ‘southern’ developments. The first of these terms refers to the marking of forms of address with the null suffix, which is particularly noticable in Russian, but which is also found in Polish, Ukrainian and Latvian. Russian is a special case, as the old vocative case had completely disappeared from the language at one point. Typical of ‘southern’ developments in the vocative is the use of particles, that is, of an analytical vocative, which was noted by Greenberg (1996) for the Balkan languages. In the Slavic languages, they are used alongside the old morphological vocative, whereby there seems to be a tendency to replace the old vocative. Language contact has proven to be an important factor in the continued use of the vocative as well as in new developments in the vocative.

Masculine and feminine nouns serve as the basis for vocative marking. The old vocative occurred only with these two form classes, and any expansion of this basis in terms of other classes of words, gender, or number in vocative developments, even in the new forms, has been rare.

Linguistische Beiträge zur Slavistik. XIV. JungslavistInnen-Treffen Stuttgart 2005. Hg. Ljudmila Geist und Grit Mehlhorn. München: Sagner 2008 (= Specimina Philologiae Slavicae 150), 9–26.