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When I am addressing someone and say:

Кать, приходи в гости в воскресенье

is Кать just a spoken reduction of Катя, or is it a separate grammatical form?

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    Людк, а Людк :))) А если серьезно, то так как эти сокращения используются исключительно в обращении, то может это вариант т.н. звательного падежа? – Armen Tsirunyan Jun 17 '12 at 14:14
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    It's just like mom and bro in English. – Nakilon Jul 2 '12 at 1:44
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    @Nakilon it's different, since in Russian this short form is used exclusively as an address. You would not say «слышь, где Кать?» even in a hurry, compare to «where's you mom?» in English. – J-mster Jan 10 '15 at 17:10
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Historical vocative

The historical Slavic vocative has been lost in Russian, and currently can only be found in certain cases of archaic expressions. Few of those expressions, mostly of religious origin, are very common in colloquial Russian: Боже! (vocative of Бог), often also used in expression Боже мой! ("My God!"), and Господи! ("Lord"), which can also be expressed as Господи Иисусе! ("Jesus"), vocative is also used in prayers, e.g. Отче наш! ("Our Father!"). These expressions are used to express strong emotions (much like English "O my God!"), and are often combined (Господи, Боже мой).

Neo-vocative

In modern colloquial Russian given names and a small family of terms often take a special "shortened" form that some linguists consider to be a reemerging vocative case. This form is applied only to given names and nouns that end in -a and , which are optionally dropped in the vocative form: Лен, где ты? ("Lena, where are you?"). This is basically equivalent to Лена, где ты?, the only difference being that the former version suggests a positive personal, emotional bond between the speaker and the person being addressed. Names ending in acquire a soft sign in this case: Оль! = Оля! ("Olga!"). In addition to given names, this form is often used with words like мама and папа, which would be respectively "shortened" to мам and пап. In plural this form is used with words such as ребят, девчат (nominative: ребята, девчата).

Such usage differs from historical vocative (which would be Лено in the example above) and is not related to such historical usage.

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    +1 Very nice answer. The historical vocative is also found in Pushkin's "Чего тебе надобно, старче?" – Armen Tsirunyan Jun 17 '12 at 15:56
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    In Soviet times there was a joke: News reader Angelina Vovk met with Chancellor of Germany Helmut Kohl in the corridor of TV Center Ostankino. - Как дела, Коль? - asked Angelina. Ничего, Вовк - answered Helmut. – Artemix Aug 12 '13 at 9:48
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"Кать", "мам", "пап", etc. are colloquial form of the corresponding words. Grammatically, such form does not exist. Hence, "Кать, приходи в гости" is a spoken reduction of "Катя". Unlike in Ukrainian (endings "-о" or "-у") or Georgian (ending "-ო") languages, Russian does not have a special "addressing" grammatical form.

Possibly this is a way to shorten a phrase to express the thought quicker, without loss or change of meaning.

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"Кать", "мам", "пап" и т.д - это оборот разговорной речи. Грамматически, такой оборот не является правильноый формой. То есть, "Кать, приходи в гости" - это именно сокращенный вариант от "Катя". В отличии от, например, украинского (окончание "-о" или "-у" ) или грузинского (оконончание "-ო") языков, в русском языке т.н. звательного падежа нет.

Возможно, таким образом укорачивается фраза, чтобы быстрее выразить мысль без потери или изменения смысла.

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    Вам не кажется странным, что такие сокращенные формы систематически употребляются при обращении, и больше нигде? – J-mster Jan 10 '15 at 14:35

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