Structure of a Nominal Group
Cases in Modern Eittlandic
Although seldom visible, as described in Case Marking, cases still remain part of the Eittlandic grammar, expressed through its syntax rather than explicit marking on its nouns and adjectives. Four different grammatical cases exist in this language: the nominative, accusative, genitive, and dative case.
- The nominative case represents the subject of a sentence, that is, the subject of intransitive clauses and the agent of transitive clauses. As we’ll see below, it is morphologically marked only in dialects other than Standard Eittlandic, and only if the word is a strong masculine word.
- On the other hand accusative, like Old Norse, usually marks the object of a verb, but it can also express time-related ideas such as a duration in time, or after some prepositions. It is also the default case when a noun has no clear status in a clause, and it can as such serve as a vocative.
- Dative usually marks indirect objects of verbs in Old Norse, though it can also often mark direct objects depending on the verb used.
Although present in Early Old Norse, the use of grammatical cases has been on the decline since the Great Vowel Shift (see Phonology: Great Vowel Shift). Due to the general loss of word-final short vowels and to regularization of its nouns, Eittlandic lost almost all of weak nouns’ inflexions and a good amount in its strong nouns’ inflexions. On top of this, the root of most nouns got regularized, getting rid of former umlauts. Hence, while in Old Norse one might find the table below presented in Cleasby and Vigfusson (1874), Modern Eittlandic is simplified to the table following it.
|Strong Masculine||Strong Feminine||Strong Neuter||Weak Masculine|
|Strong Common||Strong Neuter||Weak Nouns|
As you can see, a good amount of declensions disappeared from nouns, with only four marked cases for strong common nouns and two for strong neuter and weak nouns. The declension system completely merged weak nouns which are no longer distinguished by gender. Strong masculine and strong feminine also got merged into strong common.
Declensions are no longer productive in almost all Modern Eittlandic dialects. They are still mostly used in formal and written speech, but they are less and less used in less formal circumstances and in oral speech. The Royal Academy for Literature, which authored Standard Eittlandic, even recommends not using grammatical cases when using this dialect as they are reduntand with other syntactic strategies. While the recommendation is mostly followed, speakers still tend to use the singular genetive declension oraly. Younger folks at the time of writing even tend to regularize it as -ar for strong neuter and weak nouns.
One exception to declensions no longer being productive is in and around the Hylfjaltr Kingdom exclave in southern Eittland where speakers of its local dialect tend instead to favor strong nouns for newer terms. Hence, while most dialects agree on “internet” (pl.nom internetr, pl.dat internetum) being a weak noun, this dialect treats it as either a strong feminine (sg.gen internetar, pl.nom&acc internetr, pl.dat internetum) or a strong neuter (sg.gen internets, pl.dat internetum) — the difference is due to subdivisions in said dialect, mainly between rural and urban areas favoring the former and the latter respectively.
There are some regular exceptions to the declension system. The first one, inherited from Old Norse, is the -r suffix becoming -n or -l when a noun ends with an «n» or an «l» respectively, hence the table below showing the declensions of strong masculine himn (heaven) and strong feminine hafn (harbour, haven).
During the last five centuries, the root of the word got regularized so that only one or two forms are allowed. Due to umlaut or ablaut, it is possible the main vowel of a word changes between its singular and plural form, even sometimes affecting its dative form. These changes are due to old vowels long gone since — with most even gone by the time of Old Norse. These changes mainly remains in a few common words. The table below gives some examples of such irregularities. These words are marked as irregular in the dictionary.
|kettle (m.)||foot (m.)||book (f.)||water (n.)|
Articles and Demonstratives
When the noun of a nominal group is not a mass noun or a proper noun, an article must accompany it, except for indefinite plural nouns.
The indefinite article is einn, the same term as one in Eittlandic. It agrees in declension with its noun, though it is to be noted its declension is irregular, as seen in table below. Similarly, other numerals have declensions as discussed in Word Classes: Numerals.
As in other scandinavian languages, definite articles in Eittlandic act as suffixes to the noun and fully replace its declension as it has case marking itself. The full declension table of definite articles can be found in the table below. As we can see, the definite articles underwent an important regularization as well as merging strong neuter and weak nouns together.
|Strong Common||Strong Neuter and Weak Nouns|
The initial i is only used when using the definite articles as a suffix would cause a consonant cluster forbidden by Eittlandic phonology, otherwise it is omitted. An example of the former case is with vatn (water) which becomes vatnits when in its definite singular genitive form, while øy (island) becomes øyns in the same form. Like the indefinite article, the suffix agrees in gender, agreeing either with strong masculine or feminine words (or as established before, strong common) or with strong neuter and weak nouns.
The use of definite articles with nouns is further discussed in Definiteness.
Definiteness in Eittlandic serves multiple purposes. Its most obvious one is to distinguish between an indefinite and a definite entity, as in English a dog or the dog, respectively einn hundr and hundinn, as discussed in Articles and Demonstratives.
However, definiteness is also necessary with suffixed possessives and demonstrative.
Eittlandic inherited from Old Norse a gender system divided into three genders: male, female, and neuter. Although the number of elements marking it declined during its evolution, Eittlandic still marks gender in its strong nouns, adjectives, pronouns, and to a certain degree in its articles. However, as mentioned in Case Marking, case marking and by extensions gender marking is slowly disappearing in Modern Eittlandic nouns and adjectives.
Due to the presence of declensions with strong nouns and adjectives, its pronouns, and to a certain degree different articles, it can still be said Eittlandic is a gendered language, although it doesn’t hold much importance in its grammar anymore. Since strong nouns aren’t productive anymore and weak nouns lost all obvious gender differences, we can even consider gender as not productive anymore in Eittlandic and bound to eventually disappear. In fact, the loss of gender is even stronger in Standard Eittlandic due to the theoretical absence of declensions in this dialect.
In case a strong noun is used with a strong adjective, both will agree in number and gender.