Resultant from the fossilization of the feminine agentive suffix *-ni (“one”) to v-stem *-y. In rare cases, the original v-stem noun has survived, e.g. *smoky (“fig”) + *-ni → *smokyni (“fig fruit”).
Nominative singular *-yni (with a hard consonant), genitive *-ynję (with a soft consonant) reflects Proto-Indo-European proterokinetic *ʹ-ih₂, *-yéh₂-s, and is a cognate inflectional class as found in Sanskrit देवी (devī́, “goddess”) (genitive देव्या (devyāḥ)), Ancient Greek Μοῦσα (Moûsa, “Muse”) (genitive Μούσης (Moúsēs)), Gothic 𐌼𐌰𐍅𐌹 (mawi, “girl”) (genitive 𐌼𐌰𐌿𐌾𐍉𐍃 (maujōs)) and Lithuanian martì (“daughter in law”) (genitive marčiõs).
Already during the Balto-Slavic period these nouns almost completely merged with jā-stems, but kept the separate nominative singular ending. In Late Common Slavic this was leveled out, and already in Old Church Slavonic nominative singular is attested spelled with the soft consonant, following the rest of the paradigm.
- Denominal, forming feminine noun forms. Equivalent of English -ess.
- Deadjectival, forming feminine nouns denoting a carrier of the specified property, state or condition.
** The second form occurs in languages that contract early across /j/ (e.g. Czech), while the first form occurs in languages that do not (e.g. Russian).
- *-ica (probably)
- East Slavic:
- South Slavic:
- West Slavic:
- Šekli, Matej (2012) , “Besedotvorni pomeni samostalniških izpeljank v praslovanščini”, in Philological Studies (in Slovene), volume 10, issue 1, Skopje, Perm, Ljubljana, Zagreb, pages 115–32
- Ranko Matasović (2008), Poredbenopovijesna gramatika hrvatskog jezika, Matica hrvatska: Zagreb, page 199f