The First Declension
We are now starting with regular declensions. I have classified regular declensions by their singular and plural flex stems. If any nouns form both their flex stems in the same manner, then they belong to the same declension, irrespective of their genders or the manner in which they form their (nominative) plurals. Thus ambo and tollem belong to different genders, ambo being masculine and tollem, neuter. Though as a rule there is a close relationships between plural formation and flex stems, these two even form their plurals differently. Yet they form their flex stems in the same way and therefore both belong to the first declension.
Is it very important to know which declension a particular noun belongs to? Perhaps not. For I am of the opinion that it is more practical to learn the plurals as well as the flex stems of all nouns as a part of the vocabulary. Thus if you want to know what a mango is called in Konkani and refer to the vocabulary or the Konkani dictionary, it would be very convenient to learn the Konkani word for mango as ambo, ambea, ambe, ambeam. The order in which the words are presented is: 1) the (nominative) singular, 2) the singular flex stem, 3) the (nominative) plural, and 4) the plural flex stem. It is similar to the method used by students of Latin, and I find that it is very practical and makes life easy for the student of the language. If a student of Konkani follows this method, then he or she does not need to bother about which declension a particular noun may belong to.
All the same, it may be useful to learn the different declensions and how they differ from each other. Nouns of the first declension may be any of the following types:
- All masculine nouns ending in o.
- Disyllabic masculine nouns ending in i with two consonants (not necessarily just two letters) between the two syllables.
- Polysyllabic masculine nouns ending in i.
- All neuter nouns ending in em.
- Disyllabic neuter nouns ending in im with two consonants (not necessarily just two letters) between the two syllables.
- Polysyllabic neuter nouns ending in im.
All the above form their flex stems by replacing the ending vowel of the singular (o, i, em or im) by ea and eam to form their singular and plural flex stems respectively. The following are a few examples
Examples: suknneacho avaz (the sound of a bird); paddeak dhanvddai (chase the bullock)
How to learn Konkani nouns: When you learn a Konkani noun, such as ghoddo (horse) for the frst time, don’t just learn it as a single word. Instead find out from somebody who knows Konkani, how he would say “horse”, “to a horse”, “horses”,and “to horses”. You would then be told that the respective words are “ghoddo”, “ghoddeak“, “ghodde“, and “ghoddeank“. With that information you get to know the singular flex stem (knock out the k from ghoddeak) , you already have the plural (ghodde) and you can get the plural flex stem by again knocking out the k from “ghoddeank” and replacing the last n by m. Then you learn the Konkani for “horse” thus: ghoddo, ghoddea, ghodde, ghoddeam. With that you have mastered everything about ghoddo and you will be able to use the word in any inflection case, from nominative to vocative.
So to learn the nouns mentioned in the table above, for instance, I would suggest that it would be best to learn them by rote thus:
- ambo, ambea, ambe, ambeam, mango
- tollem, tollea, tollim, tolleam, lake
- paddo, paddea, padde, paddeam, bullock
- suknnem, suknnea, suknnim, suknneam, bird
- mocho, mochea, moche, mocheam, shoe
- khorem, khorea, khorim, khoream, spade
Assuming that you are a student of Konkani, you may at first feel that all this involves too much effort just to learn one word at a time. However, once you get used to the system, it will become a part of you, and you will find it so very handy because it will make it smoother for you to use the learnt words in different situations with great flexibility.