Home >> Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 8 >> Deane to Democracy >> Declension

Declension

words, languages and language

DECLENSION, the change of termina tion in certain classes of words, in various lan guages, to indicate the relation in which those words stand toward other words in a sentence. The condition of change to which the words are brought by the several terminations are styled cases (Lat. cases) or fallings, for some reason imperfectly understood. The words subject to declension are of the classes, noun, adjective, pronoun, article. In the Latin language gram marians generally recognize five declensions, five different modes of forming cases, and to each declinable word they assign six cases, namely, the nominative, genitive (or possessive), dative, accusative (or objective), vocative (or interjectional), and ablative. There is also a locative case, used in the names of cities, and in such forms as humi, domi. In the plural the nominative and vocative are always of the same form; so, too, are the dative and ablative. The Greek declensions are variously classified, but most generally made three in number and the cases five, as well as two locative cases found in the dialects. The ancient Sanskrit language

has eight cases of nouns and the present lan guage of the Finns has 15; but the languages of western Europe derived from Latin—Italian , Spanish, Portuguese, French, etc.—have dropped the declinational terminations of the Latin, and hence the Latin for Iman,D which is declined homo, hominis, homini, hominem, homo, homine, has in those modern languages the one form homme in French, uomo in Italian, hombre in Spanish. The ancient Germanic language, from which English is descended, had declensions ; but in our language the only remnants of the an cient forms are, the possessive cases of nouns and the objective case of pronouns, I, me; he, him; she, her; they, them. While in the Indu European languages above cited, as well as in the Semitic tongues, the unity of the word is not destroyed by inflection, in languages like the Turkish, which are styled agglutinative, ele ments are added in declension which supersede or obscure the individuality of the original word. See CASE; INFLECTION.