SamSkandinavisk nouns

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SamSkandinavisk nouns have two cases; Subject-Object and Genitive. Nouns in the Genitive case get a -s suffix. Nouns also aquire suffixes to form plurals and to designate indefiniteness or definiteness.

There are two grammatical genders; Common and Neuter. Approximately 75% of nouns are common gender and 25% are neuter gender. The Common Gender represents a merger of the Masculine and Feminine grammatical genders that were present in more archaic stages of the source languages.

Definite article

The suffix that is used to designate definiteness is also called the enclitic definite article. Although it is a suffix, it functions in a similar way to the definite article in other Western European languages such as English, German or French. For example en ankel (common gender = an ankle), ett hus (neuter gender = a house) and parasiter (parasites) in definite form become anklen (the ankle), huset (the house) and parasiterne (the parasites).

The enclitic definite article is only used when the noun-phrase is not modified by any other adjectives, determiners or articles. When these are part of the noun-phrase, the enclitic definite article is not used, instead independent, pre-noun definite articles are used; det for neuter nouns; den for common gender nouns; and de for plural nouns. (Incidentally these definite articles are also the 3rd person pronouns for it, he/she and they). For example:

anklen = the ankle; den ömme ankel = the sore ankle.

parasiterne = the parasites; de svultne parasiter = the hungry parasites.

huset = the house; det store hus = the big house.


There are two common methods of forming the plural; Called Plural 1 and Plural 2. Plural 1 adds a -er suffix to the noun stem when making a plural. Plural 2 adds no suffix, the form of the plural is often the same as the singular -- although it’s normally possible to determine the plural from the context and from accompanying adjective inflections and articles. There are also variations on the normal plurals that additionally change the stem vowel by umlaut (omljud in SamSka).

Plural 1A: is most normal nouns that form the plural with -er. This includes 95% common gender nouns and approximately half of neuter nouns.

Plural 1B: There are a few (~3%) common gender nouns that add -er and that also umlaut the stem-vowel, for example a changing to ä; o to ö and u to y. They are few in number but include some of the more frequent words in the language.

Plural 2A are nouns that don’t get a suffix to form the plural. This includes about half of neuter nouns -- monosyllablic neuter nouns in particular.

Plural 2B: There are a few (~2%) common gender nouns which, like Plural 2A, don’t add a suffix to make the plural. But they do umlaut the stem vowel. This class is notable for including the words for many family members such as moder (mother), fader (father), broder (brother), dotter (daughter).

The suffixes that mark definiteness, number and genitive case are agglutinated together onto the noun stem, which means that each noun will have a large number of potential endings. For example kvinnerns the womens can be analyzed as kvinne-r-n-s -- made up of kvinne (stem) plus -er (plural ending) plus -n (enclitic definite article) plus -s (genitive case ending). In all, a noun can have up to 6 forms.

In the example of kvinne (woman)

Singular Plural
Common Indefinite Definite Indefinite Definite
Nominative kvinne kvinnen kvinner kvinnerne
Genitive kvinnes kvinnens kvinners kvinnerns