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Evidence of active system in Russian [Re: Roll Your Own IElanguage]

From:Nik Taylor <fortytwo@...>
Date:Wednesday, April 7, 1999, 7:21
Danny Wier wrote:
> I noticed that [in Russian] masculine singular nouns and all > plural nouns have animate/inanimate distinction in the accusative > case: if animate, same form as genitive; if inanimate, the > nominative.
Ah, I've read about that. That occurs in quite a few Slavonic langs. It's a new feature, rather than a survival of PIE, tho. Originally, it began in nouns referring to *free adult healthy males*, that is, it was not used of cripples, children, or slaves! It was, apparently, a form of respect. However, it eventually generalized. I think I remember reading that Russian has generalized it furthest. -- "It's bad manners to talk about ropes in the house of a man whose father was hanged." - Irish proverb ICQ: 18656696 AIM Screen-name: NikTailor