Monday, 16 January 2017

Ndihmë për studentit - rasa emërore

Help for the student - the nominative case

(Please note that I'm neither a native nor a grammar book; thus I do not believe or pretend I'm covering all aspects of the Albanian grammar - I just decided to share some tips that helped me learn and distinguish some features of the language I've found hard. Still, checking out a grammar book will help you out probably more about learning more examples and cases than the ones presented here. Also, I'm a pattern spotter kind of learner, so such things help me a lot, hope you find it helpful too!)

Përshëndetje, sot do të shkruaj për disa shembuj prej gramatikës shqiptare - rasa emërore. But before I jump into the nominative, let's see what are the cases and why we have to use them (in case you want to speak and write correctly in Albanian, of course). If your native language has cases and you know what they are - lucky you, you can feel like you're one step ahead. For others that are not so lucky (like myself), keep reading, hopefully you'll understand it too.

So, if you've ever come across syntax, it studies the parts of the sentence. Another perky feature of it is that it also categorises different words with different functions - for example some words are categorised as subjects, others as verbs, yet others as objects and so on. Of course, it's a lot harder than I present it (people study linguistics to gasp all aspects of it), and I have a little, but crucial experience with that (I should thank my Italian teacher for all the long hours she made us distinguish who is doing what, plus the timeline of the sentences - a practical skill that is crucial if you start learning any language, other than English! Although we hated it and didn't see the point in it back then). Put in simpler words, in Albanian all nouns are marked with a case to show their function in the sentence. To make it clearer what it has to do with the nominative case - well, usually the nouns in the nominative case are subjects, i.e. they do the action presented by the verb. It's really important to understand the cases, in order to use them correctly (AND to use the adjectives' linking articles correctly, something that is extremely hard!)

It sounds a lot easier said than done, as Albanian as a language doesn't have a fixed structure of the sentence (like the standard subject-verb-object, like I eat a pizza) - instead the "doer" of the action can be pretty much everywhere, that's why it's important to understand who does the action of the verb. Another perky feature is that usually the action doer is just one (of course, there are examples of composed sentences where more than one thing is done by different doers, but let's start with the basics first), so it may help you to read the sentence and ask yourself who does the action, expressed by the verb - usually whoever is not doing it should be in a different case. The doer will be a noun/pronoun (even if it's skipped if it's understood by the verb - like the doer in "je këtu" is ti, namely you), and it will be in a nominative case (regardless of whether has adjectives linked to it, like vajza e bukur luan. It's still the subject!)

Now, as you've probably seen, each case in Albanian has two forms - definite and indefinite. The nominative is pretty easy, as usually the nouns are definite in the sentence (think about it, if you say something like The boy is playing with me, "the boy" is definite in English too. And usually whoever is doing something is definite in any language). The usual exception from the rule, when an indefinite nominative case is used, is when there is either a marker of quantity (like një, disa, dy, tre etc.) or a demonstrative pronoun (ky, kjo, këta, këto, ai, ajo, ata, ato for the nominative - i.e. any form of "this" or "that").

In case you use a possessive pronoun (im, yt, e saj etc.) the noun is always definite, regardless of its case.

Now, there is another perky feature that can give you two or more (!) nominative definite nouns in the same sentence (like vajza shkon tek mjeku) - these are introduced by some prepositions. Usually, the prepositions in Albanian are followed by either an accusative or an ablative case, but there are two that introduce nominative definite (at least in all cases I can think of, there may be some indefinite cases too) - these are nga (from) and te(k) (to, at). Nga is usually used to say you're from some place or you're coming from some place (like Argimi është nga Shqipëria, or mësuesi është nga Parisi, or djali vjen nga shtëpia etc). Te(k) is usually used to say you go to/towards some place (djali shkon tek shtëpia (e tij) or vajza shkon te dera, shkoj tek mjeku etc). So the best advice I can give you is to learn the prepositions not per se, but with which verbs they are used, and which case follows them!

Also, bear in mind that the subject can have both nominative and genitive case linked to it, but we'll go there at some point. For now just try that "distinguishing" with simple sentences, and see whether you can understand it.

So that's the short (not really short, but probably shorter and easier to get than a grammar book) "lesson" on the nominative case. Please remember that these are most probably only some of the uses, so don't overrely on them, check out a grammar book to see even more aspects of it. I mentioned the ones I've stumbled upon the most, so I think it's worth learning these examples.

Faleminderit për vëmendjen, mirupafshim!
(oh, do you know that "mirupafshim" literally means "may we well see each other again"? Anyway, that's a topic for another discussion).

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