Spurred by our previous discussion and having some free time in my hands I persused my PWN-Oxford dictionary with the aim of drawing up a definite list of feminine nouns ending with a consonant. For your joy, here's a detailed summary of my findings :-)PRELIMINARY NOTE
Polish consonant sounds are customary labelled as hard or soft. Soft sounds are further classified as historical soft (also known as hardened or functionally soft) and phonetically (or "true") soft. "Softness" is the name traditional used in the Slavic grammatical tradition for "palatalisation".
I'll use this classification (slightly different ones are also in use, especially for l,j and ł, but for our purposes let's stick to this one):
Hard sounds are m, b, p, w, f, n, d, t, z, s, r, k, g, ch/h, ł
Historical soft sounds are c, dz, sz, rz/ż, cz, dż
True soft sounds are ź, ś, ć, dź, ń, j, l
Hard sounds (a part from ł) automatically soften if followed by "i". For s, z, n this gives the sounds ś,ź,ń. For the hard sounds m, b, p, w, f, d, t, r, k, g, ch/h there's no single symbol to write their corresponding soft sound and they cannot occur in word-final position. For our purposes we can write them as m', b' etc.MAIN RULE 1
The final consonant of feminine, zero-ending words is ALWAYS a soft consonant, either historical or true soft (see note 1 and 2 below for some minor qualifications).MAIN RULE 2
By far, the largest group of zero-ending feminine word is constituted by those ending in -ość, as already discussed. There are probably more than 3000 feminine words of this kind.LIST OF WORDS
Excluding words ending in -ość, the total number of zero-ending feminine nouns I found is 171. Of these, I estimate only some 30-40 are actually worth remembering. All the others look very obscure and are probably hardly-ever used in most normal contexts.
Warning: there may be mistakes!-ń
: 34 / przestrzeń, broń, pieśń, kieszeń, zieleń, pieczeń, dłoń, przyjaźń, czerń, jesień, jabłoń, otchłań, pogoń, przystań, bojaźń, pilśń, pleśń, czerwień, grań, podczerwień, woń, baśń, czasoprzestrzeń, dań, darń, goleń, jaźń, kaźń, krtań, sień, skroń, szreń, toń, waśń-ć
: 23 (excluding those ending in -ść) sieć, nić, płeć, chęć, ćwierć, pieczęć, mać, kibić, żółć, płacheć [can also be masculine], połać, barć, chuć, nać, paproć, perć, płoć, rtęć, staroć, troć, wilgoć, zamieć, wić-l
: 21 / myśl, stal, sól, kąpiel, biel, dal, faul, zgorzel, latorośl, narośl, odrośl, piszczel [can also be masculine], pościel, torbiel, twardziel, diesel, gardziel, kądziel, kipiel, topiel, winorośl-dź
: 21 / The 10 listed by Derevon [BTW it's miedź, not międź and żołądź can also be masculine] + gładź, gołoledź, kadź, podpowiedź, czeladź, gawiedź, sadź, szadź, spadź, śniedź, żerdź-ść
: 20 (excluding those ending in -ość) / I won't list them as it makes more sense to cosider the -ść ending as feminine, as discussed in my previous post-ż
: 16 / The 6 listed by Derevon + kradzież, młodzież, odwilż, podaż, uprząż, grabież, odsprzedaż, przedsprzedaż, rozprzedaż, trzebież-cz
: 15 / rzecz, słodycz, obręcz, ciecz, gorycz, odsiecz, zdobycz, klacz, dzicz, poręcz, rozpacz, smycz, tucz, przełęcz, swołocz-w'
: 13 (see note1) / krew, półkrew, brew, marchew, konew, chorągiew, brukiew, cerkiew, krokiew, rzodkiew, stągiew, warząchew, żagiew-c
: 11 / moc, noc, pomoc + 8 compound words of these: dobranoc, północ, równoc, Wielkanoc; samopomoc; niemoc, przemoc, wszechmoc-ź
: 5 / maź, rzeź, gałąź, uwięź, więź-ś
: 5 / pierś, oś, gęś, wieś, Białoruś-sz
: 3 / mysz, wesz, rozkosz-rz
: 3 / twarz, potwarz, macierz-j
: 1 / kolej
There are no feminine words ending in either -dz or -dż, which are the only soft consonant endings not represented in the list.NOTE 1
In my list there appear 13 words ending in -ew, and w is apparently a hard consonant. This seems to contradict MAIN RULE 1 above. However, there's a way out. This kind of situation is rationalised in Ron F. Feldstein's free Polish grammar (he's talking about the masculine word "paw" =peacock):
Notice that the stem-final of paw is structurally soft, palatalized [w'], but that it hardens in final position, which happens to be the dictionary and usual citation form. It would be more accurate to represent the stem as paw'-.
I find though, that the paradigms are so irregular, not every single Polish noun could possibly fit into any single category, e.g. feminine 'krew' (blood) vs. masculine 'zalew' (drainage pipe) ad infinitum.
This discussion also helps in making some sense of the different behaviour of the words you quote. Krew
is feminine and thus must ends in -w' and we expect -wi- to appear in other cases, -wi- being the only way to write w'. On the other hand zalew
is masculine and ends in a hard w, so no "intrusive" i ever appears.
NOM SING/PLUR krew/krwie | zalew/zalewy
GEN SING/PLUR krwi/krwi | zalwu/zalewów
DAT SING/PLUR krwi/krwiom | zalwowi/zalewom
ACC SING/PLUR krew/krwie | zalew/zalewy
INST SING/PLUR krwią/krwiami | zalewem/zalewami
LOC SING/PLUR krwi/krwiach | zalewie/zalewach
VOC SING/PLUR krwi/krwie | zalewie/zalewy
There doesn't seem to be any femine word ending in other softened hard sounds like m', b', p' etc.
I do not know if there are masculine nouns ending in softened sounds like -w'.NOTE 2
It may be possible to come across semi-assimilated feminine foreign words which may end in a hard consonant: e.g., Wenus (planet and goddess), biznesswoman, call girl. These are invariable for all cases, so they arise no problems.
Okay, this is all. I guess many hoped the situation to be a bit simpler, but that's the way it is... Anyway, all in all, it's not too bad. In other languages such as French or Italian for many words there's just no way to tell if they're feminine or masculine, so Polish isn't doing too bad after all.
I guess it would make sense to create a compact list containing only useful words and excluding derivate words (if noc is feminine, so should be północ, ect.)
The PWN dictionary reports "defekt", "tapir (fryzura)","babiniec" as feminine but I think they're mistakes (I cross-checked on wikisłownik). Who knows how many other mistakes there are in this dictionary...