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Genitive Constructions (N’s N)

There are a number of genitive constructions in English which are classified according to different criteria: 1. dependence {Dependent and Independent (Absolute) Genitive ( a student’s answer, This student’s was the best answer); 2. the number of the constituents ( a single word Genitive: a boy’s bike, a double Genitive( my father’s friend’s pipe), a triple Genitive( my brother’s friend’s bride’s hat), a group Genitive( Prince of Denmark’s tragedy); 3. semantic relations between N’s and N: there are semantic varieties of dependent Genitives which are revealed transformationally and can be interpreted by means of componential method : a possessive Genitive( my son’s bike => my son has a bike), an agentive (subjective) Genitive( the boy’s application => the boy applied), an objective Genitive( the boy’s expulsion => the boy was expelled), an ambiguous Genitive (the writer’s invitation => the writer invites somebody (a subjective Genitive), => somebody invited the writer (an objective Genitive), the Genitive of origin( the girl’s story => the story told by the girl), descriptive Genitive (a mother’s love , a dog’s devotedness), Genitive of destination (the children’s room, the women’smagazine), Genitive of extension (a day’s work), temporal Genitive( a minute’s success, etc.).

All these synthetic Genitives can be replaced by analytical Genitives as there is semantic and structural similarity between the two ( France’s wines = the wines of France. It is the genitive of source). Analytical Genitive can be as ambiguous as a synthetic one ( the soldier’s shooting = the shooting of the soldiers =>the soldier shot or the soldier was shot). We can distinguish the same varieties of analytical Genitive as they are equal and can be encountered in the same environment (the Genitive of measure: the absence of two days= two days’ absence).

As to an Absolute Genitive, it is used independently. It is structurally and functionally diverse. Most frequent is the anaphorical Genitive which is used instead of a noun and represents the noun previously used to avoid its repetition. In a sentence it can perform the functions of a direct object, an attribute, a predicative, a detached element of a sentence (Render to Caesar those things which are Caesar’s and render to God those things which are God’s). The cataphorical Genitive anticipates a noun which is to come(John’s married the woman her father had loved).

The partitive (разделительный) Genitive( an opera of Verdi's => one of Verdi's operas). The locative Genitive( I met him at my aunt’s => at my aunt’s place).

Syntagmatically the absolute Genitive structure this N of N’s can express negative or positive evaluation (How naive was that picture of Dirk Stroeve’s. There was a silence threatened for a moment by that laughter of Giovanni’s. So your wife is a great friend of Mr Bossini’s).

Traditionally inanimate nouns are apt not to be used in the Genitive case , but in poetry and artistic texts there are no limitations to any noun being used in the Genitive, which is a marker of personification ( a variety of metaphor). Personification is a trope. Its effect consists in imparting the property of animate things to inanimate objects ( the ocean’s wave; reason’s voice; twilight’s silence, etc. Soldiers are citizens of death’s grey land).

At present in media (newspapers and magazines) of various circulation and orientation we encounter the spreading tendency to use any noun in the Genitive(the room’s silence; his book’s success, etc.) In this case nothing is personified. The Genitive loses its meaning of possession and acquires a qualifying function.

The morpheme -‘s comes to be lexicalized and turns into a derivational element, a suffix which changes the meaning of the word it is attached to (St Paul’s looks like a giant ship in the darkness = St Paul’s Cathedral. In an electrician’s he acquired a 9 volt transistor battery, in a stationer’s he was supplied with paper).

The Article

Debated Problems

1. Debated is the status of the article in the morphological system of ME. Some scholars treat it as a separate word, a separate part of speech {a pronoun (indefinite , demonstrative) or a pronominal adjective. The definite or the indefinite article, combining with nouns, forms word combinations (a table, the table) which are to be studied by syntax. Other linguists (B.A.Ilyish, for instance) treat these articles as functional words, auxiliary elements, building analytical forms of nouns, which represent the morphological category of definiteness/ indefiniteness. The distinction of this category expands the paradigm of the noun. According to M.Y. Blokh, the article is a half-notional, determining word. 2. Debated is the number of articles in ME. Some scholars distinguish two articles (the definite and the indefinite article). Others believe in the existence of the third article, the zero article, which denotes extreme generalization (Compare it with the zero morphemes of the singular form of nouns and verbs, which are meaningful). So, a three-member opposition a table::the table::table can be distinguished, which, according to M.Y. Blokh, underlies the category of article determination.


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