2.3 Morphology of Colloquial Czech
The aim of this section is to present only the most obvious examples and patterns of Colloquial
Czech inflection. Colloquial Czech derivation uses the same inventory of morphemes as the
literary language, albeit with certain differences in the distribution of frequency, which will not
be addressed in this section. It should be understood that Literary and Colloquial Czech are not
two distinct and separate registers, but rather constitute a continuum of grammatical as well as
lexical features. Most grammatical features are shared across the continuum, and the remainder
show a hierarchy of representation (some are relatively neutral, others relatively marked as either
literary or colloquial variants). Some of the features identified as Colloquial Czech (CCz) below
may be virtually universal for all speakers, whereas others are less frequent and or stylistically
marked. Readers who desire greater detail on this topic are referred to Townsend 1990.
2.3.1 Inflection of nouns
The single most pervasive feature of Colloquial Czech nominal inflection is an Ipl ending of
Đama/Đěma for all three genders (replacing masculine and neuter endings in -y/-i, feminine
endings in -ami/-ěmi, and yielding -ma for the kost type of feminine nouns). Compare the
literary and Colloquial Czech Ipl forms for our head nouns: LCz bratry vs. CCz bratrama
brothers, LCz koši vs. CCz košema baskets, LCz malíři vs. CCz malířema painters, LCz
kotly/-i vs. CCz kotlama/-ema cauldrons, LCz přednosty vs. CCz přednostama chiefs, LCz
zachránci vs. CCz zachráncema protectors, LCz ženami vs. CCz ženama women, LCz
růžemi vs. CCz růžema roses, LCz dlaněmi vs. CCz dlaněma palms of hand, LCz kostmi
vs. CCz kostma bones, LCz městy vs. CCz městama cities, LCz nábřežími vs. CCz
nábřežíma waterfronts, LCz slůňaty vs. CCz slůňatama baby elephants. Other Colloquial
Czech features relate only to a given paradigm or group of nouns.
Masculine nouns ending in a velar that undergoes a Type 1 alternation before the Lpl -ích in
Literary Czech may receive -ách instead with no alternation in Colloquial Czech: LCz o vojácích
vs. CCz vo vojákách about the soldiers. With some masculine hard stem nouns the expected
Lpl -ích is regularized to -ech: LCz v lesích vs. CCz v lesech in the forests. In Colloquial
Czech there is some preference for DLsg -ovi over -i: LCz holiči/-ovi vs. CCz holičovi/-i
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barber. The CCz forms chleba bread and sejra cheese, equivalent to the Gsg partitive
forms LCz chleba, sýra, have spread to the NAsg, eclipsing the functions of LCz NAsg chléb,
sýr. CCz is also characterized by sporadic differences in vowel length, particularly shortening of
ů and í in desinences. The neuter -í paradigm (see head noun nábřeží waterfront) tends to
acquire adjectival endings in Colloquial Czech, creating forms such as CCz Gsg nábřežího, Dsg
nábřežímu, Gpl nábřežích, all of which are represented by LCz nábřeží. The two feminine
paradigms with Nsg ending in a consonant, the -e/ě type (head noun: dlaň palm of hand) and
the -i type (head noun: kost bone) have become to some degree intermingled in CCz, which
tends to prefer the -e/-ě type endings for all nouns of both types, creating CCz forms such as
kostích vs. LCz kostech bones and CCz lodě vs. LCz lodě/lodi boat.
2.3.2 Inflection of adjectives and adverbs
The two vowels that produce the most characteristic phonological features of Colloquial Czech,
é (which shifts to ý/í) and ý (which shifts to ej), figure prominently in adjectival morphology,
accounting for most of the differences between the LCz and CCz hard-stem paradigm below.
Other distinctions include the replacement of LCz Ipl -mi with CCz -ma (cf. the above
discussion of nouns), and the removal of gender distinctions in the Npl (including the Type 1
alternations for masculine animates, i.e., CCz does not have the masculine animate Npl druzí in
the paradigm below), yielding a single genderless CCz NApl in -ý. The table below shows the
CCz desinences that differ from their LCz equivalents in bold face:
druhej second; other
singular plural
masculine feminine neuter (all genders)
N druhej druhá druhý druhý
G druhýho druhý druhýho druhejch
D druhýmu druhý druhýmu druhejm
A druhej/-ýho druhou druhý druhý
L druhým druhý druhým druhejch
I druhým druhou druhým druhejma
The CCz forms listed in this paradigm are not equally marked stylistically. In general, forms
involving the shift of é > ý, particularly in the feminine paradigm, are less marked and more
pervasive than the forms exhibiting ý > ej. The soft stem adjectival paradigm distingishes CCz
from LCz forms only in the Ipl, where CCz prvníma corresponds to LCz prvními first. There
is, however, one soft adjective that exhibits the change of í > ej, CCz cizej foreign, strange,
with plural forms GLpl cizejch, Dpl cizejm and Ipl cizejma corresponding to LCz Nsg masc
cizí, GLpl cizích, Dpl cizím, Ipl cizími.
CCz avoids short form adjectives (except rád glad), using only long forms for adjectives
and passive participles, and appending long form endings to all but the Nsg masc and neut
forms of the possessive adjectives. Thus LCz nemocen ill has the CCz counterpart CCz
nemocnej, with a paradigm like druhej above, and the same goes for passive participles, e.g.,
LC napsán, napsaný vs. CCz napsanej written. Aside from Nsg masc bratrův brothers
(sometimes shortened in CCz to bratruv and occasionally realized as bratrovej) and neut
bratrovo (sometimes CCz bratrový), which are the same in both registers, CCz adds the
endings from the druhej paradigm to bratrov- brothers and sestřin- sisters.
CCz tends to generalize the productive comparative adjectival formant -ější to many stems
that use -ší in LCz, for example CCz čistější cleaner as opposed to LCz čistší/čistější.
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The regular comparative adverb formant LCz -ěji can be replaced by -ějc in CCz, yielding
CCz častějc vs. LCz častěji more often and CCz rychlejc vs. LCz rychleji faster, though this
is a rather marked feature. A relatively neutral feature of CCz is the exclusive preference of
forms truncating final -ě for irregular comparative adjectives where LCz admits both forms in
free variation: CCz hůř vs. LCz hůře/hůř worse; CCz vejš vs. LCz výše/ výš higher.
2.3.4 Inflection of pronouns
The paradigm of the 1sg pronoun is considerably simpler in CCz, since all forms except the N
já and I mnou can be realized as GDAL mně, with no distinction between enclitic and stressed
forms (though the D enclitic form mi, standard for LCz, also appears frequently in CCz). The
CCz replacement of Ipl -mi by -ma is carried out in all three persons, yielding CCz Ipl forms
náma us, váma you and jima them. The nominative forms of 3rd person pronouns gain the
CCz prothetic v- and the plural (as in the adjectival paradigm) shows no gender distinctions: von
he, vono it, vona she, voni they. Aside from the distinction in the N, the 3sg masculine
and neuter pronouns share a collapsed and simplified CCz paradigm of GA jeho/ho, D
jemu/mu, L něm, I jím (where this last form can also be shortened to jim). After a preposition,
CCz uses only GA něj (never něho), and uses only the accusative enclitic pronoun ho (never
jej), although all variants coexist in LCz. CCz frequently lengthens the feminine accusative 3sg
pronoun to CCz jí (cf. LCz jí), yielding a single form (alternating with ní) for the entire
paradigm (except the N vona she).
Possessive pronouns and the demonstrative ten this display the same CCz
correspondences characteristic of adjectival paradigms, with é > ý, ý > ej (except in the Isg), loss
of gender distinctions in the plural, and replacement of Ipl -mi with -ma. For the pronouns můj
my, tvůj your, and svůj ones own there is a strong CCz preference for uncontracted over
contracted forms; thus CCz uses moje for Nsg neut/fem, Asg neut, Npl, Asg masc, and Apl,
and mojí for Isg fem. The sole CCz NApl form for these is ty; note also the CCz GDLsg fem
tý and Ipl těma. The LCz pronouns týž, tentýž the same are not used at all in CCz (where they
are replaced by ten samej).
2.3.5 Inflection of numerals
Jeden one is declined in CCz like ten, indicated above, however in counting and in compound
numerals, it most frequently appears as CCz jedna: CCz jednadvacet let, dvacet jedna let vs.
LCz jed(e)nadvacet let, dvacet jeden rok. CCz has a tendency to spread the ou diphthong
throughout the paradigm of dva/dvě two, yielding GL dvouch, D dvoum, and Idvouma as
alternates to LCz forms GL dvou and DI dvěma. The replacement of Ipl -mi by -ma motivates
CCz třema three and štyřma four, and there is a tendency to merge the genitive and locative
forms of these two numerals, yielding GL třech, štyřech. Ordinal numerals exhibit the same
variations in CCz that are characteristic of adjectives.
2.3.6 Inflection of verbs
The CCz vowel shifts that are so prominent in the adjectival declension play almost no role in
verbal paradigms, with the exception of a few monosyllabic infinitives which display é > ý/í (or
simply shorten): LCz mést vs. CCz míst/mest sweep, LCz nést vs. CCz nýst/nest carry.
CCz replaces LCz 1sg -i with -u and 3pl -í with -ou: CCz sleduju I follow (cf. LCz
sleduji), CCz sledujou they follow (cf. LCz sledují). The final -e in the LCz 1pl -eme ending is
frequently truncated in all Type III conjugations in CCz: CCz zvem we call (cf. LCz zveme),
CCz sledujem we follow (cf. LCz sledujeme). CCz shows a tendency to align the Type I and
Type II conjugations by implementing parallel 3pl forms -aj and -ěj: CCz dělaj they do (cf.
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LCz dělají), CCz souděj they judge (cf. LCz soudí), CCz trpěj (cf. LCz trpí) they suffer,
CCz uměj (cf. LCz umějí) they know how. Even irregular verbs conform, yielding CCz spěj
they sleep, chtěj they want, jeděj they eat, věděj they know. Outside of fixed phrases,
CCz uses no gerunds whatsoever, and no participles save the past passive (predominantly with
long forms). The remaining differences between LCz and CCz verb systems are limited to
relatively small groups of verbs. Here is a selection of the most salient features:
Type III non-suffixed stems ending in an obstruent and suffixed stems ending in a
consonant suffixed with nou show truncation of the final -l in the masc sg past form; with nou
verbs an alternative ending is -nul: CCz ved vs. LCz vedl he led, CCz nes vs. LCz nesl he
carried
, CCz pek vs. LCz pekl he baked, CCz tisk/tisknul vs. LCz tiskl he pressed, printed.
Type III non-suffixed obstruent stems in h/k have a CCz infinitive form in -ct
corresponding to LCz -ci: CCz píct/pect vs. LCz péci bake.
Three Type III nonsuffixed ij verbs show a vowel shift in CCz: CCz kreju, meju, reju vs.
LCz kryji, myji, ryji I cover, I wash, I dig.
Certain Type III suffixed a verbs can have imperative forms in -ej (like the Type I aj
suffixed class): CCz mazej(coll: get going!)/maž vs. LCz maž smear.
The two verbs CCz moct vs. LCz moci be able and CCz pomoct vs. LCz pomoci help
have the stem můž- throughout their non-past conjugations: CCz po-můžu, po-můžeš, po-může,
po-můžem, po-můžete, po-můžou vs. LCz po-mohu, po-můžeš, po-může, po-můžeme, pom
ůžete, po-mohou. The imperative help! also has different forms: CCz pomož vs. LCz pomoz.
Similarly CCz péct bake avoids some of the stem variation witnessed in its LCz counterpart
péci: CCz non-past peču, pečeš, peče, pečem, pečete, pečou, imperative peč! vs. LCz non-past
peču/peku, pečeš, peče, pečeme, pečete, pečou/pekou, imperative peč!/pec!
The verb vzít take deletes the z in non-past and imperative forms in CCz: CCz vemu,
vemeš, veme, vemem, vemete, vemou, vem! vs. LCz vezmu, vezmeš, vezme, vezmeme, vezmete,
vezmou, vezmi!