How do languages with grammatical case deal with foreign names?

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xBlackHeartx
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How do languages with grammatical case deal with foreign names?

Postby xBlackHeartx » 2019-01-31, 22:58

Nouns taking grammatical endings for case obviously force a language to have all its nouns (or at least their nominative form) end with a limited set of endings. For instance, in Latin all nouns in their nominative/citation form have to end in -us, -a, or -C, with personal names all having to end in -us or -a.

So, how do languages that work like this incorporate foreign names? Obviously, there's no issue if the name already ends with an appropriate rhyme, but what if it doesn't? The only example in Latin I know is the name 'Jesus', which came from the original Hebrew name Yeshua. Its not hard to see what happened here. The 'ye/je' was kept, sh became s because Latin didn't have an sh sound, and the rhyme was just replaced with the masculine ending -us. I would guess that if it was a woman's name, they might have kept the original rhyme (unless that u would've posed a problem for some endings).

Is this the way all languages with grammatical case deal with foreign names? Or are there other ways they manage to resolve this problem?

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Re: How do languages with grammatical case deal with foreign names?

Postby linguoboy » 2019-01-31, 23:17

xBlackHeartx wrote:Nouns taking grammatical endings for case obviously force a language to have all its nouns (or at least their nominative form) end with a limited set of endings.

Not really, no. Look at Russian, for instance. AFAIK, Russian nouns in the nominative can end with the full range of final vowels and consonants found in that language. I think the situation is similar if not the same in the other Slavic languages.

So maybe you're only asking about the subset of inflected languages which include clear gender/case marking in the nominative?

xBlackHeartx wrote:Is this the way all languages with grammatical case deal with foreign names? Or are there other ways they manage to resolve this problem?

Latvian is the kind of language you appear to be talking about, having only six nominal declensions and a very limited range of permissible finals for the nominative case of nouns. It employs two solutions:

1. Treat the noun as indeclinable (common with foreign names ending in a vowel).
2. Supply an appropriate ending (e.g. for masculine names, generally -s or -is).

So, for instance, the full Latvian form of the name of former President of the USA Bill Clinton is "Viljams Džefersons Klintons". Each personal name element simply receives the unmarked (masculine) first declension nom.sg ending -s.
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Re: How do languages with grammatical case deal with foreign names?

Postby Linguaphile » 2019-02-01, 3:11

xBlackHeartx wrote:Nouns taking grammatical endings for case obviously force a language to have all its nouns (or at least their nominative form) end with a limited set of endings.

xBlackHeartx wrote:Is this the way all languages with grammatical case deal with foreign names?


As was already mentioned, not all languages with grammatical case require nominative forms to end with a limited set of endings. It sounds to me as though your question may have more to do with endings that indicate gender as opposed to endings that indicate case?
The nominative case is not an issue for foreign names in Estonian, because the nominative case can have pretty much any ending. There is no gender, but there are a variety of word classes. Estonian does need rules for how to deal with foreign words in the non-nominative cases, because it has to be able to add suffixes onto the genitive stem.

Estonian:
- If the name ends with a vowel, that vowel is used for the nominative and genitive case and all cases that use the genitive stem
- If the name ends with a consonant, a vowel is added for the genitive case (etc). As with all Estonian words, the specific vowel that should be used must be learned (this is where the word classes come in, or just plain memorization). Often, but not always, with foreign names the vowel is -i.

Exceptions to the above:
- If the name ends with a silent consonant, the genitive case will end with an apostrophe, and other cases will end with an apostrophe followed by the case ending (note that apostrophes are not used this way in native Estonian names or words)
- If the name ends with a silent vowel, an apostrophe + vowel ('i) is added for all cases except nominative, followed by the case ending (again, apostrophes are not used this way in native names/words)

nominative: Jessica, Mary, Mark, Eric, Andrew, Shakespeare, Youtube
genitive: Jessica, Mary, Marki, Ericu, Andrew', Shakespeare'i, Youtube'i
partitive: Jessicat, Maryt, Marki, Ericut, Andrew'd, Shakespeare'i, Youtube'i
illative: Jessicasse, Marysse, Markisse, Ericusse, Andrew'sse, Shakespeare'isse, Youtube'isse
ablative: Jessicalt, Marylt, Markilt, Ericult, Andrew'lt, Shakespeare'ilt, Youtube'ilt
(There are 14 cases, but the 9 that I'm not listing all work pretty much the same way as the last two, with different endings)

There are situations in which consonant gradation applies (New York > New Yorgi) and some names of biblical figures and historical figures have their own Estonian versions:

nominative: New York, Jeesus
genitive: New Yorgi, Jeesuse
partitive: New Yorki, Jeesust
illative: New Yorgisse, Jeesusesse
ablative: New Yorgilt, Jeesuselt

Except for the names of historical figures (which were in some cases given Estonian forms in the past), the names are written the way they are in their native language. For example, above there are the examples Mary, Eric, and Andrew. The Estonian alphabet doesn't have the letters y, c, or w, but it keeps them in foreign names. It also doesn't have silent letters, but keeps them in foreign names if they exist in the source language.

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Re: How do languages with grammatical case deal with foreign names?

Postby md0 » 2019-02-01, 7:15

Greek, in addition to having grammatical case, also abhors nouns ending in consonants (except -n and -s). The two strategies are the same as what was mentioned about Latvian:
a. Treat the noun as indeclinable
b1. If its foreign ending coincides with a Greek noun ending, reanalyse it as a noun ending
b2. Try to normalise the noun by adding or removing sounds

Examples:
a. Η Γιάκομπσον, της Γιάκομπσον, την Γιάκομπσον, the Jacobson nom/gen/acc, το ρεκόρ, του ρεκόρ, το ρεκόρ, the record (from French)
b1. Η Γουατεμάλα, της Γουατεμάλας, την Γουατεμάλα, the Guatemala, η φαμίλια, της φαμίλιας, την φαμίλια, the family (from Italian dialects)
b2. η μπασκέτα, της μπασκέτας, την μπασκέτα, the basket (in sports), (dialectal/Cypriot vernacular) η κκέτσια_, της κκέτσιας, την κκέτσιαν, the ketchup

The tendency, especially in Greece Greek, is to go for the first strategy, and even re-borrow old loans like 'βιόλα' (viola) which were declinable before as indeclinable now. That's a marker for social class in the last two or three decades.
In my dialect the tendency is not as strong but it's there.

The final consonant deletion is more common in my dialect than anywhere else, because in other Greek dialects the phonotactics are more relaxed. Adding vowels is universally acceptable. Both b1 and b2 are how Greek used to do things until recently, and as a result there are plenty of loanwords which native speakers can't tell are borrowings.

Finally, it's (probably) possible to borrow different meanings of a foreign word and use different strategy for each meaning, eg:
το μπαρ - the bar (venue)
η μπάρα - the bar (the counter in a bar)
(caveat: there's also an earlier μπάρα from Italian 'barra', meaning 'rigid oblong object')
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Re: How do languages with grammatical case deal with foreign names?

Postby Mutusen » 2019-02-03, 9:17

In Russian, basically:
  • female names ending in -a are declined normally, other names are not declined;
  • male names ending in a consonant are declined normally, other names are not declined.

Slovak is pretty much the same, although I'd say it has a bigger tendency to decline foreign words; male names ending in -o and -a are also declined, and male names ending in -y/-i have a special declension pattern. Slovak also often adds -ová to female last names, which has the advantage of making them declinable (but in the colloquial language I think it's rare or only used for some famous people).

So for example:
  • John, Johna, Johnovi, Johna, Johnovi, Johnom
  • Ricardo, Ricarda, Ricardovi, Ricarda, Ricardovi, Ricarda
  • Henry, Henryho, Henrymu, Henryho, Henrym, Henrym
  • Jessica, Jessicy, Jessice, Jessicu, Jessice, Jessicou
  • But: Mary, Mary, Mary, Mary, Mary, Mary
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