However, the vocative noun doesn't always have to be a name. It could be a title or description, as in the following examples:
The vocative form of these nouns never ends in an -s. Most commonly, it looks like the nominative form without the final -s; in other words, it is identical to the accusative form of the noun. Here are some examples:
There is a handful of words in the second declension which do not form the vocative in this way. This exceptional group contains words which end in -ens or -ns, and a couple of others. Here they are:
akmens 'rock, stone', asmens 'blade', rudens 'autumn', ūdens 'water', zibens 'lightning', mēness 'moon', sāls 'salt', suns 'dog'.
The vocative of these nouns is usually identical with the nominative form. However, since none of these nouns refer to people, it is highly unlikely that you will ever be called upon to use the vocative form of these words!
Most grammars say that the vocative for this declension class is the same as the nominative case. However, there are certain words which fall into this class which never retain the final -s (or -š) in the vocative. These are nouns which:
|pārdevējs||pārdevēj!||seller, store clerk|
|ugunsdzēsējs||ugunsdzēsēj!||fireman, fire fighter|
|draudziņš||draudziņ!||dear friend (dimin.)|
|tētiņš||tētiņ!||dear daddy (dimin.)|
|Robertiņš||Robertiņ!||dear/little Robert (dimin.)|
Otherwise, nouns of this class would typically have vocative forms which are identical to their nominative forms. Here are some examples in which the vocative and nominative forms are the same:
Nevertheless, there are other situations in which nouns of this class do not have identical forms in the nominative and vocative cases. In other words, sometimes a noun in the vocative case will drop the -s suffix. Take a look at the following examples:
Notice that the noun tēvs "father" can occur either with or without the -s ending, depending on the individual speaker. In other words, it looks as though the -s ending is optional in the vocative.
In fact, it is most common for men's names to occur in the vocative without an -s ending, as seen in the following examples:
|Some First Declension Male Names|
It is not just names which can have this type of vocative form: other masculine nouns of this class may appear without a final -s ending, as seen in these examples:
Once again, the grammars say that the vocative case for these nouns is identical to the nominative case. However, it is possible to have vocative forms without the final -s. Take a look at the following examples:
So what is the overall pattern? Take a look at the next section:
|What happens to the ending?||Declension
|Which types of nouns?||Examples|
|-s MUST be deleted||1st||end in -tājs, -ājs, -ējs, -nieks,
or are diminutives
|skolotājs → skolotāj!
draudziņš → draudziņ!
||end in -is
||puisis → puisi!
||-s (or -š) MAY be deleted
||all other nouns in this class
||tēvs → tēvs!/tēv!
||nouns ending in -ens + mēness, sāls, suns
||akmens → akmens!/akmen!
||Mikus → Mikus!/Miku!
Hope this helps!
However, we're not done. Now we have to deal with the feminine nouns. Here we go:
Although the vocative form is usually identical to the nominative form in this declension class, it is quite possible for the vocative to occur without the final -a ending. Take a look at the following examples:
Apparently there are situations where the deletion of the -a ending is more likely, and others where it never happens. Take a look at the following examples:
|What happens to the ending?||Description of noun||Examples|
|-a is usually deleted||word is 3 syllables long||Karmena → Karmen!|
Silvija → Silvij!
Lonija → Lonij!
|-a is NOT deleted
||cluster of 2 or more consonants before -a ending
||Nelda → Nelda!|
Indra → Indra!
In other words, if a noun is 3 or more syllables long, it is much more common for the final -a to be dropped. On the other hand, if there is a sequence of 2 or more consonant sounds before the -a ending, and dropping the -a vowel would leave a cluster of consonants at the end of the word, it apparently never is deleted.
Clearly these are not absolute rules; this is evidenced by the fact that some people will drop the final -a ending even in two syllable words: Anna → Ann!, māsa → mās! "sister". On the other hand, many people will retain the final ending in these same words: māsa → māsa! "sister". Thus, we can only say that, even though these appear to be strong tendencies, the dropping of the final -a ending is optional.
Although Latvian grammars often describe the vocative form of these nouns as identical to the nominative, it is quite common for the final -e ending to be deleted. Take a look at the following examples:
According to a thesis by Inga Kēlvere-Wälchli, the same word can occur both with and without a final -e ending, but is more likely to drop the ending if the word has been made part of a longer compound. Take a look at the following examples of vocative forms:
|Word alone||English translation||Word in compound||English translation|
|Kundze!||Lady! (or: Ma'am!)||Jaunkundz!||Young lady!|
This clearly relates to the tendency (described above) to drop a final vowel ending in the vocative, if the word is three (or more) syllables long.
Kēlvere-Wälchli also says that a final vowel suffix is more likely to be dropped if the preceding syllable contains a long vowel (e.g. ī) or a diphthong (e.g. ei, ie, or ij ). This may explain why a name like Zane is never pronounced *Zan! in the vocative case. (Note: linguists use an asterisk * before a work to mark a form that doesn't occur.)
On the other hand words which have a long vowel in the second-to-last syllable (like Līze or Mudīte) will often show up in the vocative without the final vowel ending: Līz! Mudīt!. Nevertheless, this is still just a strong tendency, not a "rule", since it is quite possible to pronounce the same word either with or without a final -e in the vocative. Take a look at the following examples:
|meitene||meitene! or meiten!||girl|
|Ilze||Ilze! or Ilz!||Ilze|
|Liene||Liene! or Lien!||Liene|
In other words, the deletion of the final -e in the vocative case is not rule-governed; it is still just an option.
Since the word ļaudis (meaning "people") only occurs in the plural, its vocative form is identical to its nominative form (as for all plurals). Apparently vocatives are also identical to nominatives in the singular, although clearly there isn't muchevidence to go by. In other words, you rarely hear people going around saying Zoss! "Goose!" or Zivs! "Fish!".
|What happens to the ending?||Declension
|Final vowel MAY be deleted||4th||skolotāja → skolotāja! or skolotāj!
||Mudīte → Mudīte! or Mudīt!
||-s is NEVER deleted
||zivs → zivs!
|kaķītis||kaķīt!||dear/little cat (dimin.)|
We can look at these as cases where the final -s ending has been dropped first, and only then the stem vowel -i (i.e. dakteris → dakteri → dakter). As a result, we can say that the circumstances in which the final short vowel -i may be deleted in these masculine nouns are basically the same as those in which the final short vowels -a or -e are optionally deleted in the feminine noun declensions. In other words:
|When may stem vowel be deleted?||Masculine noun examples||Feminine noun examples|
|word is 3 syllables long||dakteris||dakter!||skolotāja||skolotāj!|
|second to last vowel is long or diphthong||puisis||puis!||Līze||Līz!|
That should take care of just about every vocative form you will encounter.
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Last revised February 22, 2010