Monday, February 12, 2007

SSSJ part 2

In some cases (almost exclusively borrowings, but also a few archaic or dialectal words with ambiguous spelling), the headword is followed by a short note on the pronunciation enclosed in square brackets:

dilino [d-] ...

Note that even in borrowings, this information is only supplied where there is potential confusion. Common borrowings with generally known and/or accepted pronunciation (elektrina, dentálny etc.) do not include this note.

In this entry, the [d-] indicates that the voiced dental plosive [d] is not palatalized according to the native de-te-ne-le/di-ti-ni-li rule. Elsewhere, the relevant parts of the lexeme or the entire lexeme are transcribed whenever appropriate:


girondista [ži- d-] ...
acta [akta] …
e-mail [imejl]...

The pronunciation note is followed by morphological data:

dilino [d-] -na pl. N -novia m. ...

This particular entry lists Genitive singular (-na, i.e. dilina) and Nominative plural (pl. N. -novia, i.e. dilinovia) followed by the specification of gender (m. for masculine, ž. for feminine and s. for neuter nouns).

For all nouns in the Dictionary, these data include Gen. sg. For masculine and neuter nouns, N. pl. is included by default, too. In many cases, other forms are given as well. In entries on masculine and neuter nouns this most commonly includes the notoriously difficult Locative sg.:

diel –lu L –le pl. N –ly m. ...

For feminine nouns, the equally troublesome Genitive plural is often listed as well:

električka -ky –iek ž. ...

I find it rather confusing that in case of masculine nouns, the default morphological information includes the names of the categories (i.e. N and pl.), while in case of feminine and neuter nouns it doesn't. The introduction offers no explanation as to why this is so.

Verbs are listed in the infinitive and the morphological information provided includes the following forms: present tense 3. person singular [1] and plural [2], 2. person imperative singular [3], past tense (actually, past participle) [4], prechodník (adverbial participle) [5], active participle masculine singular [6], passive participle masculine singular [7] and the gerund [8] (NB: the numbers in italics are mine, they do not appear in actual SSSJ entries):

brániť –ni [1] –nia [2] bráň! [3] -nil [4] –niac [5] –niaci [6] –nený [7] –nenie [8] ...

This is a huge improvement over previous dictionaries (which only listed [1] and [2] and occasionally [7]) and will surely please many a native speaker, not to mention those brave and admirable people learning Slovak as a second language.
As seen in the example above, while only hyphenated endings are normally listed for most forms, full forms (or even full conjugations) are given whenever necessary. Entries on verbs also indicate the aspect of the verb in question (abbreviation dok. for dokonavý = perfective and nedok. for nedokonavý = imperfective; occasionally both, see below):

čarať -rá -rajú -raj! -ral -rajúc -raný -ranie nedok. i dok. ...

For adjectives, the lemma is always Nominative singular masculine and the morphological derivations listed are N sg. feminine, N sg. neuter and N sg. masculine of the comparative (2. st.):

čierny -na, -ne 2. st. černejší príd. ...

Comparative is normally listed in entries on adverbs as well:

bohapusto 2. st. - tejšie prísl. ...

Note that in both adjective and adverb entries above, the comparative form is followed by an abbreviation indicating the part of speech (príd. = prídavné meno = adjective, prísl. = príslovka = adverb). Of all the parts of speech, only nouns and verbs remain unmarked as to their category. All other categories include the information on their function in a sentence which is optionally accompanied by other characteristics as well. Entries on pronouns, for example, also specify their respective type, while prepositions include the abbreviation for the case(s) which they govern. Why this is so is a mystery to me. It would have been more fitting - not to mention consistent - to indicate the word class in every single entry. I also wonder whether it wouldn't be more user-friendly to list the word class (followed by the gender for nouns and the aspect for verbs) immediately following the pronunciation guide. Contrast the following two versions:

dilino [d-] -na pl. N -novia m. {róm.}...
dilino [d-] podst. m. -na pl. N -novia {róm.}...

Morphological data can optionally be followed by an abbreviation in chevrons (represented here by brackets) indicating the origin of the word. As seen here, our example is a borrowing from Romani (rómčina).

dilino [d-] -na pl. N -novia m. {róm.}...

Multiple origins (e.g. Latin from Greek, German from Italian) are indicated by a "less than" sign (represented herein by a hyphen):

centrum -ra, pl. N centier s. {lat. - gr.}...
dohán -nu m. {maď. - tur. - arab.} …

When it comes to etymology, that is, unfortunately, it. Don't get me wrong: I am happy to note that the information provided is quite reliable and I‘m thankful for it, no matter how brief it is. It has even proven valuable to me, as I have since learned that bifľovať sa ("to learn by mindlessly memorizing; to cram for exams") is not only a borrowing from German (which I had already suspected), but that it ultimately derives from Greek (which figures, but is still news to me). I also learned that čurbes ("a wild party") originally comes from Hebrew and I am still trying to find out what is the origin of this lovely word. Wouldn't it be great if the respective entries contained all that information?

One more point of criticism: this note of origin is only found in borrowings, or rather immediately recognizable borrowings. Entries on borrowings which are commonly not recognized as such (i.e. "glej", "družba") do not include this note. I therefore cannot help but think that it would have been more consistent (though admittedly much more demanding from the point of the editors) to include the note of etymology with every non-native headword. E.g.:

glej -ja pl. N -je m. {lat. - gr.} ...
družba -by -ieb ž. {rus.} ...

(To be continued...)

11 comments:

Language said...

Oh, how depressing. Why would you go to all the trouble of putting out a massive dictionary, intended to be authoritative, and not include etymological information beyond what language a word is borrowed from (and even that only sometimes)? Presumably they have the etyma locked up in a cabinet in their office, and are hoarding them for their own pleasure. Are Slovaks not supposed to be interested in where their words come from??

Johanka said...

I totally agree with Languagehat's comment here.

Which Greek word is the origin for bifľovať sa?

bulbul said...

Steve,

Presumably they have the etyma locked up in a cabinet in their office, and are hoarding them for their own pleasure.
Knowing our academic milieu, I cannot help but think that this is a very charitable comment :o) I am planning to address this and other problems in Part 3 or 4. In the mean time, suffice it to say that I have been informed (IRL) that an etymological dictionary is in the works.

johanka,
I am assuming that biflovať sa - D büffeln - D Büffel - Gr. βουβάλι/βούβαλος.

David Marjanović said...

But what does it have to do with a buffalo? Did the Greeks come up with a word for "working hard" (I'm thinking along the lines of French bosser here) based on something as exotic as a buffalo, and then some 19th century students brought that into German??? ~:-| ~:-| ~:-|

Language said...

Lutz Mackensen's etymological dictionary of German says büffeln is after an earlier noun büffelerbeit 'buffalo work' (used by Luther). The noun Büffel is immediately from Latin bufalus, a byform of bubalus, itself straight from Greek.

David Marjanović said...

So, cramming for an exam is an eminently exotic activity and therefore associated with an exotic animal?

MMcM said...

Duden says that it's 16th century schoolboy slang, and suggests it's primarily from intensifying MHG buffen 'hit', secondarily from Büffel in the sense of 'work as hard as a buffalo'.

I assume that buffen is related to French buffe, whence English buffet (the verb). And that the original metaphor is like the English "hit the books".

David Marjanović said...

Oh! That makes sense. Thanks a lot!

The frequentative meaning of -eln is long dead -- if I hadn't read about it, I'd have never guessed it.

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