Belarusian/Lesson 11

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The ў Letter[edit]

The у нескладо́вае letter is considered a consonant. However, it has all features of a vowel except one - it does not make a syllable (нескладовае means non-syllabic).

The ў letter is always preceded by a vowel. Together they form something like English diphthongs: ow in slow etc.

воўк "vouk" a wolf

ла́ўка "lauka" a bench

A y-vowel following the ў letter is read with a й sound.

здаро́ўе "zdarouye" health

Other vowels never follow ў. If as a result of word flexion or derivation ў gets in such a position, it is replaced by в. The opposite is also true. The в letter is never followed by a consonant, and can not be the final letter of the word. In such a position, it is replaced by ў.

ла́ўка "lauka" a bench - ла́вачка "lavachka" a bench (diminutive)

хлеў "khleu" a shed - хлявы́ "khliavy" sheds

здаро́вы "zdaróvy" healthy, in good health - здаро́ўе "zdarouye" health

Singular Nouns Genitive[edit]

Nouns, adjectives, pronouns and adjective-like determiners are deflected by cases. So far, we have dealt with the Nominative, which is the initial case. Nominative singular (Nominative singular masculine for adjectives) is the word form to be searched in a dictionary.

The Genitive case is used to denote a kind of "kinship" between objects: a whole-to-part relation, a producer-to-product relation etc. In such cases, the "master" word (whole, producer etc.) would be Genitive.

In English such relations are usually denoted by the of preposition. Thus, a Genitive word X will most probably be translated to English as of (the) X. The opposite is also true. In Belarusian, there is no preposition that directly corresponds to the English of word. The of+noun expression would most probably be denoted by the Genitive in Belarusian.

Feminine[edit]

Singular feminine nouns have ы or і endings in the Genitive - exactly the same as Nominative plural forms.

шко́ла a school - шко́лы of a school (or schools)

до́ля a part, a share - до́лі of a part (or parts)

ко́шка a cat - ко́шкі of a cat (or cats)

ноч a night - но́чы of a night (or nights)

гусь a goose - гу́сі of a goose (or geese)

With feminine nouns having stressed endings in Nominative singular, the stressed is not shifted in the Genitive. Thus, Genitive singular and Nominative plural differ for such words.

вада́ water - вады́ of water - во́ды waters

зямля́ a land - зямлі of a land - зе́млі lands

рака́ a river - ракі of a river - рэ́кі rivers

Masculine nouns ending in а or я form the Genitive in the same way.

мужчы́на a man - мужчы́ны of a man (or men)

саба́ка a dog - саба́кі of a dog (or dogs)

Neuter[edit]

Neuter nouns ending in о, а have а ending in the Genitive, and neuter nouns ending in е, ё take the я ending in the Genitive.

акно́ a window - акна́ of a window

ко́ла (of) a wheel

по́ле a field - по́ля of a field

Masculine[edit]

The most difficult situation is about masculine nouns ending with a consonant. They can take either а (я for soft consonants) or у (ю for soft consonants) ending. The rule to distinct these two cases is rather complicated.

The а (я) ending is taken by masculine nouns that denote

(a) animate creatures, i.e. people and animals

чалаве́к a person - чалаве́ка of a person

воўк a wolf - ваўка́ of a wolf

конь a horse - каня́ of a horse

(b) countable objects

стол a table - стала́ of a table

хлеў a shed - хлява́ of a shed

(c) body parts

нос a nose - но́са of a nose

хвост a tail - хваста́ of a tail

BUT твар a face - тва́ру of a face

(d) public organisations

заво́д a factory - заво́да of a factory

прафсаю́з a trade union - прафсаю́за of a trade union

(e) locations, geographical or astronomical names

го́рад a town - го́рада of a town

Мінск Minsk - Мінска of Minsk

Марс Mars - Ма́рса of Mars

(f) measuring units or intervals

год a year - го́да of a year

метр a meter - ме́тра of a meter

вольт a volt - во́льта of a volt

долар a dollar - до́лара of a dollar (даля́р/даля́ра in tarashkievitsa)

(g) concrete scientific terms

су́фікс a suffix - су́фікса of a suffix

ра́дыус a radius - ра́дыуса of a radius

The у (ю) ending is taken by masculine nouns that denote

(a) uncountable objects, i.e. substances and materials:

мёд honey - мёду of honey

цынк zinc - цы́нку of zinc

ву́галь coal - ву́галю of coal

BUT хлеб bread - хле́ба of bread

(b) collections of objects:

наро́д people - наро́ду of people

лес a forest - ле́су of a forest

флот a fleet - фло́ту of a fleet

(c) phenomena of nature:

дождж rain - дажджу́ of rain

мароз frost - маро́зу of frost

(d) place, direction, shape, size, time etc.

час time - ча́су of time

шлях a way - шля́ху of a way

(e) abstract concepts: characteristics, states, processes, actions, feelings etc.

ро́зум intellect - ро́зуму of intellect

ко́лер a colour - ко́леру of a colour

канфлікт a conflict - канфлікту of a conflict

прагрэ́с progress - прагрэ́су of progress

рух movement - ру́ху of movement

со́рам shame - со́раму of shame

боль an ache - бо́лю of an ache

(f) scientific, social or religious theories or trends, usually ending with ism

ідэалізм idealism - ідэалізму of the idealism

футуры́зм futurism - футуры́зму of the futurism

буды́зм Buddhism - буды́зму of Buddhism

ісла́м Islam - ісла́му of Islam

BUT some nouns of this group, denoting social trends characteristic to the Soviet epoch, take the а ending

камунізм communism - камунізма of the communism

сацыялізм socialism - сацыялізма of the socialism

Some nouns can have different meanings that fall to different groups and thus may have different Genitive endings, depending on the meaning.

кава́лак ду́бу a piece of oak (дуб denotes a material)

ко́рань ду́ба a root of an oak (дуб denotes a tree)

про́цьма наро́ду plenty of people (народ denotes a collection of people)

во́ля наро́да the will of the people (народ denotes a people as a single body)

Exercises[edit]

Countries and Capitals[edit]

Read the names of the countries and the cities given below. Then make up the sentences saying which city is the capital (сталіца) of which country.

Cities: Мінск, Масква́, Вільнюс, Ры́га, Кіеў, Варша́ва, Ло́ндан, Пра́га, Ата́ва, Пары́ж, Рым, Тэгера́н, Іерусалім, Буэ́нас-А́йрэс, Кінгстан

Countries: А́нглія, Аргенты́на, Белару́сь (feminine), Ізра́іль, Іра́н, Іта́лія, Кана́да, Ла́твія, Літва́, По́льшча, Расія, Украіна, Фра́нцыя, Чэ́хія, Яма́йка

Sample: Мінск - сталіца Беларусі. (or Сталіца Беларусі - Мінск)

Clue: Масква - сталіца Расіі. Вільнюс - сталіца Літвы. Рыга - сталіца Латвіі. Кіеў - сталіца Украіны. Варшава - сталіца Польшчы. Лондан - сталіца Англіі. Прага - сталіца Чэхіі. Атава - сталіца Канады. Парыж - сталіца Францыі. Рым - сталіца Італіі. Іерусалім - сталіца Ізраіля. Тэгеран - сталіца Ірана. Буэнас-Айрэс - сталіца Аргентыны. Кінгстан - сталіца Ямайкі.

Rivers and Tributaries[edit]

Read the names of some Belarusian rivers being tributaries (прыто́кі) of other rivers. Make up sentences saying whose tributaries they are. Refer the map if you have difficulties.

The tributaries: Дры́са, Сож, Вілія, Буг, Пры́пяць (feminine), Піна, Бярэ́зіна, Мухаве́ц, Свіслач (feminine), Я́сельда

The rivers: Вісла, Дзвіна́, Дне́пр, Нёман

Sample: Дрыса - прыток Дзвіны.

Clue: Сож - прыток Дняпра. Вілія - прыток Нёмана. Буг - прыток Віслы. Прыпяць - прыток Дняпра. Піна - прыток Прыпяці. Бярэзіна - прыток Дняпра. Мухавец - прыток Буга. Свіслач - прыток Бярэзіны. Ясельда - прыток Прыпяці.

Try to think out: Is it possible to invert these sentences, i.e. to say Прыток Дзвіны - Дрыса etc.? Why?

Answer: No. Such sentences would imply uniqueness, i.e. that the Drysa is the only tributary of the Dvina etc. With countries and their capitals it was possible to invert the sentences because we dealt a "one-to-one" relation.

Singular Masculine Genitive[edit]

Put either а or у endings in place of underscores.

(1) цэнтр Мінск_ (the centre of Minsk)

(2) сло́ік мёд_ (a jar of honey)

(3) кава́лак хле́б_ (a piece of bread)

(4) перамо́га камунізм_ (the victory of communism)

(5) канча́так назо́ўнік_ (an ending of a noun)

(6) пачуццё гу́мар_ (the sense of humour)

(7) пагро́за канфлікт_ (a threat of a conflict)

(8) хвост ты́гр_ (a tail of a tiger)

(9) дырэ́ктар заво́д_ (a manager of a factory)

(10) вы́раз тва́р_ (the expression of the face)

(11) мэр го́рад_ (the mayor of the city)

(12) пача́так даждж_́ (the beginning of rain)

(13) пача́так шля́х_ (the beginning of the way)

Clue: a - 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11; у - 2, 6, 7, 10, 12, 13

Translation[edit]

Translate into Belarusian.

(1) This woman is a secretary of the manager.

(2) The headmaster of the school is travelling.

(3) Here is a jar of water.

(4) This is the root of the conflict.

(5) These oaks are trees of the forest.

(6) That street is the beginning of the way.

(7) What is the capital of Belarus? The capital of Belarus is Minsk.

(8) How are your students working? They are working well.

(9) What are the tributaries of the Dnieper? The tributaries of the Dnieper are the Sozh, the Prypiat and the Berezina.

Clue: (1) Гэтая жанчына - сакратарка дырэктара. (2) Дырэктар школы вандруе. (3) Тут слоік вады. (4) Гэта корань канфлікту. (5) Гэтыя дубы - дрэвы лесу. (6) Тая вуліца - пачатак шляху. (7) Якая сталіца Беларусі? - [Сталіца Беларусі -] Мінск. (8) Як працуюць твае студэнты? - [Яны працуюць] добра. (9) Якія прытокі Дняпра? - [Прытокі Дняпра -] Сож, Прыпяць і Бярэзіна.