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облако-кочевник

I want to put this word in the accusative plural. If I want to use correct Russian grammar, how would it look and sound and why? Which rule applies?

Here's the song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dke43JqfhU4

Лето взяло в руки краски:

Хочешь — жёлтой, хочешь — красной,

И зелёной — по аллеям бродить!

По полночным синим, серым

И далёким, самым белым,

Облаков-кочевников ловить.

I wonder if "облаков-кочевников" is the correct form. If not, then why and which variant would be right? "Облако" on its own is inanimate; "кочевник", however, is an animate noun. I just wonder what rule applies if they do combine together.

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  • Please don't post answers in comments. If you want to answer, click on "Add another answer" below the post and post the answer there. If you think that the question can't be answered, post an answer and explain why. If you think that the question premise is flawed, downvote and/or vote for closure. Thank you.
    – Quassnoi
    Apr 30, 2023 at 22:30

1 Answer 1

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In compound words which have a modifier noun and a modified noun, the modified noun is what the rest of the phrase has to agree with.

It means that when the two nouns have different animacy, like in народ-победитель, галстук-бабочка, человек-оркестр, the modified nouns (народ, галстук, человек) defines what the plural accusative is going to look like: поздравлять народы-победители, носить галстуки-бабочки, слушать людей-оркестров. So in neutral context, if облако-кочевник were a thing, it would decline as an inanimate noun (ловить облака-кочевники).

That said, in songs and poetry a certain level of poetic license is allowed. It's totally up to the author to treat облако as an animate noun if it makes the song work, which is what she's doing.

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  • Слушаю отца-оркестра и мать-оркестра :) Apr 30, 2023 at 21:38

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