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My grandfather, who is a Russian from the Smolensk region, has an interesting manner of speaking.

One of the peculiarities is his use of the -ом/-ем suffix for masculine nouns and proper nouns in the instrumental case that initially would have -ой or -ей when speaking about doing something with someone, i.e., "с Ю́рком" (vs "с Юркой"), "с Са́шем", "с Жо́рком", "с па́пом" (с папой), etc.

Could this be an alternative form that's in use in some region, or that came over from another language such as Ukrainian? Or is it an obsolete archaic form? Or is it just his own invention?

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4 Answers 4

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I'm not aware of particularly Smolensk-area dialects (and I know very little about them in general, to be quite honest), however, what you're describing is not that unimaginable.

In northern group of Russian dialects, the following happens:

Именительный падеж дếдушко мал’чи́шко
Родительный падеж у дếдушка у мал’чи́шка
Дательный падеж к дếдушку к мал’чи́шку
Винительный падеж дếдушка мал’чи́шка
Творительный падеж с дếдушком с мал’чи́шком
Предложный падеж о дếдушке о мал’чи́шке

Этот тип склонения существительных с суффиксами -ушк-, -ишк- встречается и в некоторых говорах северного ареала Западной группы южного наречия. В остальных говорах южного наречия, в среднерусских говорах и литературном языке существительные с суффиксами -ушк-, -ишк- изменяются по первому склонению: дếдушка, у дếдушки, к дế́душке; мальчи́шка, у мальчи́шки, к мальчи́шке и т. п. Отдельно взятый тип склонения существительных с суффиксом -ишк- значительно распространён за пределами ареала севернорусского наречия.

The Smolensk-area dialect doesn't belong to the northern group of dialects. However! This quote: "этот тип склонения ... встречается и в некоторых говорах северного ареала Западной группы южного наречия" is actually a good hint that a similar process might have happened in Smolensk as well. Also, based on your evidence, this pattern holds true with a wider range of nouns, not only with the suffix "-ушк"/"-ишк".

Also, Ivan isn't wrong, and this has traces in colloquial speech. One can say something like: "Мы сегодня с Юрком и Никитосом ходили в кино" without analyzing whether they say "Юрком" because they used the form "Юрок" or just because of something more complicated.

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  • Wow, great find! That does seem plausible region-wise, they could have extended the use to words without -шк- in those rural areas.
    – Curiosity
    Mar 1, 2021 at 19:01
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I live in the Bryansk region and I've come across a similar dialect near the Belarusian border. Maybe that has something to do with it.

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  • Smolensk is pretty close to Belarus, that's a definite possibility!
    – Curiosity
    Mar 18, 2021 at 18:56
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I think it's a colloquial kind of declension (i.e. one of many deviations from established grammar rules observed in everyday speech). In my experience, native speakers use such forms occasionally regardless of their geography, although it may be more common in some areas than others.

Perhaps the linguists on this forum could give a more informed (correct) answer to this, but from a layman's POV, it sounds like an element of informal speech not derived from another language or old Russian.

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  • That is my uninformed opinion as well, and I couldn't find anything online from my searches so you might be right.
    – Curiosity
    Feb 28, 2021 at 21:42
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The pair Женька / с Женьком is basically normative (non-dialectal, happening all over).

So if this form exists, it's not inconceivable that some dialects would allow it for a wider range of base words, although "с папом" does sound rather contrived to me.

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    Not sure if that's what you mean, but the pair for c Женько́м (which is the one happening all over) is Женёк, not Женька. The op is asking about c Же́ньком.
    – Quassnoi
    Jul 31, 2023 at 22:15
  • This is surprise to me. Which kind of proves that you can leap over these transitions. As for the stress, it is an underway language transition.
    – alamar
    Jul 31, 2023 at 22:20
  • Transition from where to where? There is (and has long since been) a way to form cutesy names in Russian: Ванёк, Санёк, Юро́к, Игорёк, Василёк, which are your run-of-the-mill 3b declension nouns that give Ванько́м, Санько́м etc. in the instrumental, with the stress on the final syllable. They are not really different from пушок or курок or any other noun with this declension pattern. But the op's grandfather is using a whole nother pattern, which is definitely dialectal.
    – Quassnoi
    Jul 31, 2023 at 22:36

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