Old Occitan > Morphology, Part One


Old Occitan has a two cases, nominative and oblique, and two numbers, singular and plural. Nouns may be masculine or feminine, but there are vestiges of the neuter for some pronouns and for adjectives.

Standard Masculine Declension

singular plural
nom. jorns, day jorn
obl. jorn jorns

Note the pattern of this: the -s occurs for the nominative singular and the oblique plural, and the ending drops for the oblique singular and the nominative plural. In practice the articles will usually clear up this confusion.

Some masculine nouns will introduce some other letters with the -s:

singular plural
nom. montz, mountain mon
obl. mon montz

Agent nouns (Lat. -tor) are declined so:

singular plural
nom. trobaire, troubador trobador
obl. trobador trobadors

Nouns from Latin -o, -onis. Note that the n in parentheses means it is liable to drop out.

singular plural
nom. bar, baron baró(n)
obl. baró(n) baró(n)s

Some nouns decline after the pattern of om:

singular plural
nom. om, man ome
obl. ome omes

Feminines in -a have only two forms, singular and plural. The oblique is identical to the nominative:

Standard (-a) Feminine Declension

singular plural
nom. domna, lady domnas
obl. domna domnas

But the other feminines decline so:

singular plural
nom. naus, ship naus
obl. nau naus

There are two irregular feminines:

singular plural
nom. sòr, sister serors
obl. seror serors

singular plural
nom. mólher, woman molhèrs
obl. molhèr molhèrs


Adjectives agree in case and number with their nouns. There are two types of adjectives in Old Occitan, those which decline the feminine like domna and those which do not.

The first type, bons, good:

masculine feminine
nom.sg. bo(n)s bona
obl.sg. bo(n) bona
nom.pl. bo(n) bonas
obl.pl. bo(n)s bonas

The second type, tals such:

masculine feminine
nom.sg. tals tals
obl.sg. tal tal
nom.pl. tal tals
obl.pl. tals tals

By the late medieval period many adjectives had moved from the second into the first class.

The comparative is formed by adding plus, for example plus gentils. The superlative is made by adding an article or possessive to the comparative: lo plus gentils. Often, however, simple plus gentils can be interpreted also as a superlative.

A few synthetic forms survived:

Adverbs are derived from adjectives in two ways. The most common is to suffix -(a)mén to the feminine form of the adjective, finamen finally. Another way is to suffix -s, premiers. Both may be combined into -méns, often spelled -mentz.


Some forms of the definite article are prone to both elision of the final vowel (l'us) and enclitic reduction. For enlitics the reduced article will be suffixed to the preceding word. In old editions this wasn't marked, but is now usually marked with a dash (e-l son cozi) or with a raised dot (e·l son cozi). In the list below elided (proclitic) forms are marked with an apostrophe, enclitics with the raised dot.

masculine feminine
nom.sg. lo, le; l'; ·l, ·ls la, li; l'; ·lh, ·l
obl.sg. lo; l'; ·l, ·ll la; l'
nom.pl. li; l', ll', ·l, ·ls las
obl.pl. los; ·lhs, ·ls las

The numeral one does duty for the indefinite article a, an. In the plural it means some.

masculine feminine
nom.sg. u(n)s una
obl.sg. u(n) una
nom.pl. u(n) unas
obl.pl. u(n)s unas

Personal Pronouns

The personal pronouns, like the definite article, are prone to appear in proclitic or enclitic forms. The third person pronouns are a little more complex, so here are the first and second person pronouns first:

first person second person
nom.sg. èu, ièu; ie·, I tu, you
obl.sg. me, mi; m'; ·m té, ti; ·t
nom.pl. nos; ·ns, we vos; ·us, you (pl.)
obl.pl. nos; ·ns vos; ·us, ·eus

The first person form ie· is used when it's followed by an enclitic.

The indefinite pronoun ("one", Fr. on) is forms of óme (including on), but uses forms of vos for the oblique.

Unlinke nouns and the first and second personal pronouns, the third person pronouns have several forms of the oblique: accusatives for the direct object of a verb and datives for the indirect object. Also, there are forms which are used after prepositions, and finally there are forms which seem to be emphatic, though not always very.

masc.sg. masc.pl fem.sg fem.pl
Subject él il éla élas
Subject, emphatic celúi celèi
Direct object lo los la las
After prep. él éls éla élas
Indirect object li; l', lh'; ·l, ·lh li; l', lh'; ·l, ·lh
Emph. oblique lúi lór lèi(s) lór


Possessive pronouns have distinct adjective and pronoun forms in the singulars my, your, his, her, its. The adjectives modify nouns and the pronouns occur by themselves ("this is mine").

The pronoun forms:

These decline identically:

masculine feminine
nom.sg. mèus mia, mèua
obl.sg. mèu mia, mèua
nom.pl. mèi mias, mèuas
obl.pl. mèus mias, mèuas

Since the -e- is open, these may all diphthongize, mièus, mièuas etc.

The adjectival forms of the possessives again decline identically, mos, tos, sos:

masculine feminine
nom.sg. mos ma
obl.sg. mo(n) ma
nom.pl. mèi mas
obl.pl. mos mas

The forms for our, your, their have identical pronoun and adjective forms:


Old Occitan demonstrative pronouns may act as either pronouns or adjectives (cel that (one) or cel om that man).

First, there is a neuter series which can be translated "it" but which most of the time refers not to a thing, but to something just said or about to be said:

ò aisò, acò

Ò needs no completion, but does, and is usually followed by a relative pronoun, so que that which: so qu'ieu vauc deziran that which I am desiring. Aco requires no relative.

The two following demonstrative systems come in three forms. The weak form is given in the first paradigm. An introductory form which may take completion, like so above, but does not require it, and is formed by prefixing c- (often spelled s-) to the weak form. The strong form is emphatic, and is formed by prefixing unaccented aic-, ais- or aqu- to the weak form.

ést, this

masculine feminine
nom.sg. ést ésta
obl.sg. ést ésta
nom.pl. ist éstas
obl.pl. éstz éstas

As examples, the masculine nominative singular introductory form is cést and the strong is aicést or aquést.

cél, that

masculine feminine
nom.sg. cél céla
obl.sg. cél céla
nom.pl. cil célas
obl.pl. céls célas

The weak froms of the cel series (el, ela, etc.) are the third person pronouns. As an example of a strong form, the feminine oblique plural would be aicélas or aquélas.

Copyright (c) 2006-2014 William S. Annis