Both Planck and Nietzsche are foreign names. Why does one say

Я знаю Планка


Я знаю Ницше


Is there a criterion to know when does a borrowed name should be declined? Is the "-e" ending that YellowSky mentions enough?

  • 2
    Планк is masculine ending in a consonant, Russian has a pardigm for declining such nouns, Ницше is masculine ending in -e, there are almost no such nouns in Russian, every one of that kind is borrowed, hence they are indeclinable (like кофе - another masculine noun ending in -e).
    – Yellow Sky
    Oct 10 '13 at 15:46
  • @YellowSky, I do believe you should feel free to convert this to answer, since it is a valid answer actually.
    – shabunc
    Oct 10 '13 at 16:07
  • @YellowSky: strictly speaking, masculine nouns in -ище (дружище, человечище) etc. do exist and decline in Russian.
    – Quassnoi
    Oct 11 '13 at 12:17
  • @Quassnoi - I suspected I could be wrong in my generalizing too much, so I decided not to convert that comment into answer.
    – Yellow Sky
    Oct 11 '13 at 12:46

Все прочие мужские фамилии, имеющие основы на согласные и нулевое окончание в именительном падеже, склоняются как существительные второго склонения мужского рода, т. е. имеют в творительном падеже окончание -ом, (-ем): Герценом, Левитаном, Гоголем, Врубелем, Хемингуэем, Гайдаем. Такие фамилии воспринимаются как «нерусские».
Соотносительные женские фамилии не склоняются: Наталии Александровны Герцен, Любови Дмитриевне Блок, с Анной Магдалиной Бах, с Надеждой Ивановной Забелой-Врубель, о Мэри Хемингуэй, о Зое Гайдай.

Фамилии, пишущиеся с е, э, и, ы, у, ю на конце, могут быть только несклоняемыми.

So, Ницше doesn't decline because it ends with -е, and Планк is only declined if it's a male.

The complete declension rules for names are found here: http://www.gramota.ru/spravka/letters/?rub=rubric_482 (in Russian).

  • 2
    I guess I also need to try to explain WHY it is that way. Ницше sounds totally foreign and has no similar paradigm in Russian, so you simply cannot decline it. Планк sounds as if it could be a Russian masculine noun, so it makes sense to use corresponding declension. However, it will sound weird if it's a woman, so you'd better not decline the name in that case.
    – jwalker
    Oct 10 '13 at 21:17
  • The clause about surnames in is only valid for foreign surnames. Russian surnames Солнце and Море do decline when male.
    – Quassnoi
    Oct 11 '13 at 8:11
  • 2
    @Quassnoi The gramota.ru rule may look like it only applies to foreign names but it's not. I made sure and checked Склонение фамилий и личных имен в русском литературном языке referred to by the article: не склоняются и исконные антропонимы (точнее, антропонимы славянского происхождения), оканчивающиеся на -о, -е.
    – jwalker
    Oct 11 '13 at 10:11
  • 1
    good point. Anecdotally, I used to work with a man named Жало who insisted on declining his surname, though.
    – Quassnoi
    Oct 11 '13 at 11:34

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