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The adjective Христов looks quite unique to a learner such as myself. I can't think of any others that look like it; meaning it lacks the characteristic -ый/ий/ой endings (and their inflected forms) I'm used to. It also seems to follow the declension pattern of a noun (or more specifically, male surnames, where the instrumental and all the plural forms are inflected like adjectives). I'd like to know why this is. Is it a grammatical holdover from Old Church Slavonic or Old East Slavic? If so, how did it come about, morphologically speaking? I'm only familiar with -ов in modern Russian, where it is an ending for plural nouns or singular male surnames. How was Христов formed from whatever the noun form of "Christ" was at the time?

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  • Will you provide some context, a sentence at least? I believe it's possessive from Christ.
    – V.V.
    Aug 12 '16 at 5:37
  • Sure. From the Wikipedia article on Иисус Христос: "Необходимость вкушения тела и крови Христовых в таинстве причащение (Ин. 6:48—58)"; "В православной иконографии на иконе Воскресения Христова изображается момент схождения Спасителя в ад и изведения из ада душ ветхозаветных праведников. " We can see it follows the noun(s) it describes and matches said noun in number and gender. I found it curious because it doesn't look like a typical adjective. I was also surprised not to see "Христоса," the genitive of Христос, used instead. Aug 12 '16 at 5:52
  • As a side note, you are right about surnames (though, as others said, it is the names that are derived from the possessive form). Христов is a known surname; for exampe, Борис Христов was one of the world's greatest basses (he was a Bulgarian though).
    – Zeus
    Aug 12 '16 at 14:27
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I can't think of any others that look like it

Tons. Отцов, дедов, братов etc.etc.

I'm only familiar with -ов in modern Russian, where it is an ending for plural nouns or singular male surnames

Actually it's surnames which are produced from possessive forms, i.e. Петров means Peter's [son].

I was also surprised not to see "Христоса," the genitive of Христос, used instead

Genitive of Христос is Христа.

Is the -ов we see in possessive adjectives the same -ов we see in the inflectional ending for masculine nouns in the genitive plural today? Or is it etymologically unrelated?

These are different and do not always coincide. For example, братов (possessive) vs. братьев (gen. pl.).

I would have thought Петра would be "Peter's," whereas Петров would be "Peters'"

Петров = "Peter's" or "of Peters"; Петра = "of Peter".

Is it still a productive ending today

Yes, but it applies only to animate nouns, just like "'s" in English. Also Genitive is definitely more popular nowadays, which is especially true for "modern" words. So making possessive of such words is somewhere between "not recommended" and "wrong".

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  • Thanks! I'll edit that mistake out. Is the -ов we see in possessive adjectives the same -ов we see in the inflectional ending for masculine nouns in the genitive plural today? Or is it etymologically unrelated? If it is related, has it shifted its meaning or was it used for plural nouns then as it is now? Because I would have thought Петра would be "Peter's," whereas Петров would be "Peters'". Is it still a productive ending today with regards to building possessive adjectives, or are there a set number of very old ones that use it and newly coined poss. adjectives follow a different pattern? Aug 12 '16 at 8:02
  • @GinésdePasamonte Answer's updated.
    – Matt
    Aug 12 '16 at 9:09
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In Russian we have got possessive adjectives, which mean belonging to a person or an animal (singular ):

мамина сумка, отцовы кроссовки, кошачьи следы, нянькины сказки, кровь Христова братовы ботинки.

They are equal to a noun+noun structure

сумка мамы, кроссовки отца, следы кошки, etc.,

but this structure can show belonging to ownership in plural: ботинки братьев.That's why, they say,there's a tendency to use a noun+ noun structure or adjectives ending with -овский,ский more often.

The suffix -ов,(-ев) helps to form adjectives from nouns (masculine, ending with hard(soft) consonant

Отец – отцов, брат– братов, Христос – (we remove -ос) Христов, Христова, Христово.

We also remove -ос in declension :

Христос, Христа,Христу, Христа, Христом, о Христе. (храм Христа Спасителя).

Matt has already mentioned surnames, which were formed with the same suffixes.

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  • To me, "кошачий" is not a possessive adjective. It means "characteristic of cats" rather than "a/the cat's". "Следы кошки" is equivalent to "кошкины следы".
    – ach
    Aug 15 '16 at 9:01
  • Принадлежащие кошке, кошачий хвост- что тогда? Характерный или принадлежащий?
    – V.V.
    Aug 15 '16 at 10:40
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To illustrate this short-form adjectival construction with last names in another setting, I have seen it used sometimes in math to name concepts after people: Артин --> артинов модуль (Artinian module), Риман --> риманова поверхность (Riemann surface), Банах --> банахово пространство (Banach space), and so on. It also occurs in physics: Ньютон --> ньютонова механика (Newtonian mechanics). If the name ends softly then -ов becomes -ев: Абель (Abel) --> абелев интеграл (abelian integral), абелева группа (abelian group), and абелевое многообразие (abelian variety). As other answers have indicated, this method of forming an adjective out of a name seems old-fashioned. Far more often I see the genitive following the noun, e.g., сфера Римана (Riemann sphere), not риманова сфера.

It is standard to use a lower-case first letter (артинов rather than Артинов, unless it is the first word of a sentence), and this short-form adjective precedes the noun. Neither of these is the case with your example of Христов; native speakers are welcome to comment on that.

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    Capitalization depends on whether it is descriptive or possessive adjective. If it ends in "-ian" in English (Cartesian product, Newtonian liquid, Riemannian manifold), it's descriptive and is not capitalized in Russian (декартово произведение). If it ends in "'s" in English or is used unchanged (Newton's laws, Riemann sphere), it is possessive and is capitalized in Russian (regardless of being used in genitive or as a form in -ов, -ев, -ин)
    – Quassnoi
    Aug 21 '16 at 17:17
  • @Quassnoi I agree possessive is capitalized genitive, but I have never seen short-form adjectival names (-ов/ев) capitalized if not the first word. For example, in the slides at matematika.phys.msu.ru/files/a_stud_spec/256/lectioni-7.pdf it is банахово пространство throughout, not Банахово, and this is an example where the term in English, Banach space, leaves the name unchanged. Also, Riemann surface uses the name unchanged but I have only seen риманова поверхность, not Риманова поверхность.
    – KCd
    Aug 22 '16 at 0:38
  • For example, see the notes on Riemann surfaces at mi.ras.ru/noc/lectures/01chirka.pdf, even just the introduction.
    – KCd
    Aug 22 '16 at 0:46
  • + булева алгебра (Boolean algebra) Oct 28 '17 at 11:43

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