Curonian grammar

Curonian grammar

Curonian grammar describes the grammatical features of extinct Curonian language. The Curonian language is highly inflected and archaic language. Its grammar is reconstructed basing on Latvian, Lithuanian and Old Prussian grammars and known Curonian place-names and New Curonian texts and vocabulary.


Curonian nouns are divided into seven declensions (three masculine and four feminine). But there are several nouns which are declined irregulary. The declension of noun is determined by its ending and gender.

Curonian nouns have eight grammatical cases: nominative case, accusative case, genitive case, dative case, ablative case, instrumental case, locative case and vocative case.The locative case has four forms: inessive (the regular and most common form), illative (iekš(k)an tan pirman vietan 'in the first place',āran 'outdoors, outside', priekšan 'for', laukaisnā 'to country'), allative (only used in a few idiomic expressions like: mājump, kalnump, šurp, turp), adessive (namaip, namaisump). The later three are adverb-forming cases.

Following table shows nominative endings for all regular declensions:

Masculine Feminine
1.decl. 2.decl. 3.decl. 4.decl. 5.decl. 6.decl. 7.decl.
Sing. Plur. Sing. Plur. Sing. Plur. Sing. Plur. Sing. Plur. Sing. Plur. Sing. Plur.
-as -āi -is -jāi -us -ūs -ās -ēs -is -īs -us -ūs

Masculine nouns

  1.decl.: vīr-as 'man, husband';
  2.decl.: skap-is 'shelf';
  3.decl.: turg-us 'market, bazaar'.

1.decl. 2.decl. 3.decl.
Sing. Plur. Sing. Plur. Sing. Plur.
Nom. vīras vīrāi skapis skapjāi turgus turgūs
Acc. vīran vīrāns skapin skapjāns turgun turgūns
Gen. vīras vīrūn skapjas skapjūn turgaus turgūn
Dat. vīraj vīrams skapjaj skapjams turgav turgums
Abl. vīrā vīrams skap skapjams turgaus turgums
Ins. vīrami vīrais skapimi skapjais turgumi turgumis
Loc. vīrai vīraisu skapīju skapjaisu turgūju turgusu
Voc. vīru! vīrāi! skapi! skapjāi! turgau! turgūs!

Feminine nouns

    4.decl.: saiv-ā 'woman, wife';
    5.decl.: ap-ē 'river';
    6.decl.: nakt-is 'night';
    7.decl.: vilt-us 'guile, deceit', dzirn-ūs 'mill'.

4.decl. 5.decl. 6.decl. 7.decl.
Sing. Plur. Sing. Plur. Sing. Plur. Sing. Plur.
Nom. saivā saivās apē apēs naktis naktīs viltus dzirnūs
Acc. saivān saivās apin apēs naktin naktīs viltun dzirnūs
Gen. saivās saivūn apēs apjūn naktijas naktjūn viltuvas dzirnūn
Dat. saivāj saivāms apēj apēms naktijai naktīms viltuvai dzirnūms
Abl. saivās saivāms apēs apēms naktijas naktīms viltuvas dzirnūms
Ins. saivaju saivāmis apeju apēmis naktiju naktīmis viltuvu dzirnūmis
Loc. saivāju saivāsu apēju apēsu naktīju naktīsu viltūju dzirnūsu
Voc. saivu! saivās! ape! apēs! nakti! naktīs! viltu! dzirnūs!

Dual number

Curonian had also a Dual number. It was mainly used in the words representing body parts, e.g. duvi rankai, kājai, ausī, aksī, nāsī 'two hands, legs, ears, eyes, nostrils'.

The Dual endings of all cases:

Masculine Feminine
1.decl. 2.decl. 3.decl. 4.decl. 5.decl. 6.decl. 7.decl.
Nom.Acc.Voc. -au -jau -ai -ei
Dat.Abl.Ins. -amu -imu -umu -āmu -ēmu -īmu -ūmu
Gen.Loc. -aj -jaj -āj -ēj


In rapid speech there occure some changes in vowel quality, the final long vowels and diphthongs get shortened, but -aj, -aju turn into [ui], and -ami into [um(i)], as also -ijas and -uvas turn into [ies] and [ūs], -ijai and -uvai turn into [ij]/[ei]/[ie] and [ui].

See also

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