Word of the Day

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dates in Slavic languages

I've noticed an interesting difference between Slavic languages in how they treat dates. In Czech, Slovak, Polish, and Russian, the month has to be in the genitive singular, no problem so far: 20. (dvacátého) ledna, 20. (dvadsiateho) januára, 20 (dwudziestego) stycznia, 20 (двадцатого, dvadtsatava) января (yanvarya), respectively, all meaning 20 of January or January 20.

Nevertheless, if there is something that triggers another case, for example a preposition, these languages differ: mezi 20. (dvacátým) lednem a 15. (patnáctým) únorem and medzi 20. (dvadsiatym) januárom a 15. (pätnástym) februárom in Czech and Slovak, respectively, both with number and month in the instrumental case, required by the preposition me(d)zi. Polish and Russian would have only the number, but not the month, in the instrumental case: między 20 (dwudziestym) stycznia a 15 (piętnastym) lutego and между 20 (двадцатым, dvadtsatym) января и 15 (пятнадцатым, pyatnadsatym) февраля (mezhdu 20 yanvarya i 15 fevralja).

Disclaimer: The Russian phonetic notation is very approximative.

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