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This page pertains to UD version 2.

Animacy: animacy

Values: Anim Hum Inan Nhum

Similarly to Gender (and to the African noun classes), animacy is usually a lexical feature of nouns and inflectional feature of other parts of speech (pronouns, adjectives, determiners, numerals, verbs) that mark agreement with nouns. Some languages distinguish only gender, some only animacy, and in some languages both gender and animacy play a role in the grammar. (Some non-UD tagsets then combine the two features into an extended system of genders; however, in UD the two features are annotated separately.)

Similarly to gender, the values of animacy refer to semantic properties of the noun, but this is only an approximation, referring to the prototypical members of the categroy. There are nouns that are treated as grammatically animate, although semantically the are inanimate.

The following table is an example of a three-way animacy distinction (human – animate nonhuman – inanimate) in the declension of the masculine determiner który “which” in Polish (boldface forms in the upper and lower rows differ from the middle row):

gender sg-nom sg-gen sg-dat sg-acc sg-ins sg-loc pl-nom pl-gen pl-dat pl-acc pl-ins pl-loc
animate human który którego któremu którego którym którym którzy których którym których którymi których
animate non-human który którego któremu którego którym którym które których którym które którymi których
inanimate który którego któremu który którym którym które których którym które którymi których

In the corresponding paradigm of Czech, only two values are distinguished: masculine animate and masculine inanimate:

gender sg-nom sg-gen sg-dat sg-acc sg-ins sg-loc pl-nom pl-gen pl-dat pl-acc pl-ins pl-loc
animate který kterého kterému kterého kterým kterém kteří kterých kterým které kterými kterých
inanimate který kterého kterému který kterým kterém které kterých kterým které kterými kterých

More generally: Some languages distinguish animate vs. inanimate (e.g. Czech masculines), some languages distinguish human vs. non-human (e.g. Yuwan, a Ryukyuan language), and others distinguish three values, human vs. non-human animate vs. inanimate (e.g. Polish masculines).

Anim: animate

Human beings, animals, fictional characters, names of professions etc. are normally animate. Even nouns that are normally inanimate can be inflected as animate if they are personified. And some words in some languages can grammatically behave like animates although there is no obvious semantic reason for that.

Inan: inanimate

Nouns that are not animate are inanimate.

Hum: human

A subset of animates where the prototypical member is a human being but not an animal. Again, there may be exceptions that do not fit the class semantically but belong to it grammatically.

Nhum: non-human

In languages that only distinguish human from non-human, this value includes inanimates. In languages that distinguish human animates, non-human animates and inanimates, this value is used only for non-human animates, while Inan is used for inanimates.


Animacy in other languages: [bg] [cs] [en] [et] [fr] [ga] [grc] [hu] [hy] [it] [myv] [pt] [ru] [sl] [tr] [u] [uk]