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On the use of the ´s-Genitive and the of-Genitive with some inanimate nouns
2002 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor)Student thesis
Abstract [en]

The English genitive has two forms, the ‘s-genitive and the of-genitive. The two forms compete in some areas but also have specialized functions. The ‘s-genitive is preferred by animate nouns whereas the of-genitive is preferred by inanimate nouns, but the distinction is not always clear cut. Therefore, the purpose of this paper was to investigate the choice of genitive construction for some inanimate nouns (e.g. computer, vehicle) which could be regarded as having some sort of animateness or human or personal properties. The choice of genitive construction is governed by different conditional factors e.g. style and genre, the function of the genitive, the semantics of the noun in the genitive and the head noun. Earlier work (e.g. Altenberg, Biber, Dahl, Poutsma, Quirk) present ideas which were adopted for this investigation. The genitive constructions were classified into functional categories e.g. possessive, partitive, subjective, objective genitive. The classification of nouns according to a gender scale has also been useful. The aim has been to look for personal properties as an explanation for the s’-genitive with inanimate nouns. Some of-expressions were excluded because they were more or less set prepositional phrases or the like. The corpus used was the complete issue of the years 1998, 1999 and 2000 of the newspapers The Guardian and The Observer, available on CD-rom. The high degree of ‘s-genitives in newspaper text is partly connected with the overall high number of nouns in that genre, since newspapers strive to concise the space of text. An ‘s-construction is shorter than an of the – construction and, ultimately, a high number of nouns makes a high number of genitive constructions. Despite of this however, some occurrences of the ‘s-genitive could possibly be explained by the personification of the noun, that is, the assignment of human/personal properties to the noun. Especially the nouns computer and pc tended to take the ‘s-genitive instead of the of-genitive. For some other (picture, study) the of-genitive was preferred, possibly due to the kind of set expressions in which these words were found. For other words further e.g. camera, engine and painting the number of occurrences of each genitive construction was about equal. Another important observation was that subjective genitives mostly had the ‘s-form, whereas the objective genitives mostly had the of-form.

Abstract [en]

The English genitive has two forms, the ‘s-genitive and the of-genitive. The two forms compete in some areas but also have specialized functions. The ‘s-genitive is preferred by animate nouns whereas the of-genitive is preferred by inanimate nouns, but the distinction is not always clear cut. Therefore, the purpose of this paper was to investigate the choice of genitive construction for some inanimate nouns (e.g. computer, vehicle) which could be regarded as having some sort of animateness or human or personal properties. The choice of genitive construction is governed by different conditional factors e.g. style and genre, the function of the genitive, the semantics of the noun in the genitive and the head noun. Earlier work (e.g. Altenberg, Biber, Dahl, Poutsma, Quirk) present ideas which were adopted for this investigation. The genitive constructions were classified into functional categories e.g. possessive, partitive, subjective, objective genitive. The classification of nouns according to a gender scale has also been useful. The aim has been to look for personal properties as an explanation for the s’-genitive with inanimate nouns. Some of-expressions were excluded because they were more or less set prepositional phrases or the like. The corpus used was the complete issue of the years 1998, 1999 and 2000 of the newspapers The Guardian and The Observer, available on CD-rom. The high degree of ‘s-genitives in newspaper text is partly connected with the overall high number of nouns in that genre, since newspapers strive to concise the space of text. An ‘s-construction is shorter than an of the – construction and, ultimately, a high number of nouns makes a high number of genitive constructions. Despite of this however, some occurrences of the ‘s-genitive could possibly be explained by the personification of the noun, that is, the assignment of human/personal properties to the noun. Especially the nouns computer and pc tended to take the ‘s-genitive instead of the of-genitive. For some other (picture, study) the of-genitive was preferred, possibly due to the kind of set expressions in which these words were found. For other words further e.g. camera, engine and painting the number of occurrences of each genitive construction was about equal. Another important observation was that subjective genitives mostly had the ‘s-form, whereas the objective genitives mostly had the of-form.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2002. , 36 p.
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-53691Local ID: ENG C-13OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-53691DiVA: diva2:1102251
Subject / course
English
Available from: 2017-05-29 Created: 2017-05-29

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