the case of nouns n.
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The Case of Nouns. Lecture 7. According to the Limited Case Theory , developed by O. Jespersen , English nouns have two case forms – genitive case and common case.

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According to the Limited Case Theory, developed by O. Jespersen, English nouns have two case forms – genitive case and common case.

  • We adopt this theory because it is based on the Structural approach to language description and complies with the principle that
  • each grammatical form has its own grammatical meaning and
  • each grammatical meaning is realized through a specific grammatical form.
defining the category
Defining the Category
  • Case is a grammatical category expressing various relations of the noun to other elements in the sentence structure or in the structure of the phrase.
  • The languages in the world are classified into synthetical, preserving the inflectional case system, and
  • analytical, expressing these relationships by prepositions, relative pronouns and word order.
  • Both English and Bulgarian are analytical languages.
the category of case is based on the functional opposition of two sets of forms common genitive
The category of case is based on the functional opposition of two sets of forms: common ↔ genitive.
  • The common case form is unmarked.
  • It expresses relations between the noun and the verb in syntactic structures of various statuses.
  • Each specific relation is further distinguished by means of word order:
the genitive case form is marked by the s grammatical ending
The genitive case form is marked by the –‘s grammatical ending.
  • This ending is attached
  • to nouns in the singular form (the teacher’s pencil),
  • to irregular plural forms (the children’s pencil),
  • to larger syntactic structures (Jack and Jill’s adventure).
  • The apostrophe is attached to regular plural nouns (the students’ papers).
proper nouns in s can be marked in two ways
Proper nouns in –s can be marked in two ways:
  • either ‘s or apostrophe
  • Example: Burns’s poems or Burns’ poems
  • but the ending should be pronounced [iz] in both cases
the genitive case forms express relations between two nouns jane s brother my sister s house
The genitive case forms express relations between two nouns: Jane’s brother; my sister’s house.
  • The inflected genitive is common with animate nouns:
  • - personal names –Dr. Brown’s students
  • - personal nouns –my father’s watch
  • - collective improper nouns –the party’s political platform
  • - higher animals –the lion’s cage
the inflected genitive is also used with some inanimate nouns
The inflected genitive is also used with some inanimate nouns:
  • - geographical names –Bulgaria’s past
  • - names of institutions –the Chamber of Trade and Industry’s Premises
  • - temporal nouns –a two months’ holiday
  • - nouns of distance –a three miles’ walk
  • - in some set phrases –at a stone’s throw; within arm’s reach
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The forms of the genitive play basically the role of an attribute.
  • The attributive relation is a phenomenon of the surface structure.
  • However, there are different semantic nuances of the genitive case
structural types of genitive phrase
Structural Types of Genitive Phrase
  • According to the structure of the noun phrase in which the genitive case form is included, we can distinguish the following types of phrase:
  • the regular genitive phrase – the noun in the genitive case precedes the head noun

the Queen’s English

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the group genitive phrase – the case marking refers to a group of nouns or a noun phrase –the United States’ policy
  • If it is a group of nouns, the marker is added to the last one –Mary and Paul’s home
  • It shows certain independence of the marker which can be likened to that of the article.
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the double genitive phrase – the relation between the two nouns is marked twice –

1. by means of case ending and

2. the preposition of

a friend of my brother’s

(one of my brother’s friends)

  • It is used whenever another determiner besides the genitive is needed:

a friend of Tom’s, an old song of Greene's,

a book of John's

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the elliptic genitive phrase – the head noun is omitted if the context makes it possible for the addressee to recover the relation

Ann’s office is larger than Tom’s

My car is faster than John's (=John 's car)

  • The genitive here is an elliptical variant of the noun phrase.
  • the elliptic genitive is also called independent
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the local genitive phrase – this is a variety of the elliptic type
  • The omitted noun refers to buildings or establishments.

at St. Paul’s (Cathedral);

at the newsagent’s

semantic types of genitive phrase
Semantic Types of Genitive Phrase
  • Two semantic types of genitive phrase can be distinguished:specifyinganddescriptive.
specifying genitive
Specifying Genitive
  • Within this semantic type the noun in the genitive case form is used with specific reference:my neighbour’s son
  • The relations between the noun in the genitive case form and the head-noun are various.
accordingly grammarians distinguish between the following semantic varieties
Accordingly, grammarians distinguish between the following semantic varieties:

a. possessive Genitive –this man’s car(=this man has a car)

  • The noun in the genitive case denotes the owner; the head-noun denotes the possession.
  • The feature /+animate/ is of basic importance.
  • In the majority of cases the head noun has the feature /-human/.
b subject genitive
b. subject Genitive

my friend’s visit(=My friend visited us.)

Tom’s arrival (=Tom arrived.)

  • The noun in the genitive case denotes the agent; the head-noun denotes the action.
  • Requirements:
  • the head-noun must share the same root as the respective verb;
  • the noun in the genitive must have the feature /+animate/ in its semantic component.
c object genitive
c. object Genitive

Tom’s trial(=They tried Tom.)

Brown’s murder(=They murdered Brown)

  • The head noun of the phrase becomes a predicate of the underlying sentence;
  • The noun in the genitive case object of the underlying sentence;
  • The noun in the genitive case denotes the affected; the head-noun denotes the action.
d genitive of origin
d. Genitive of origin

R. Stevenson’s essays

  • The noun in the genitive case denotes the agent; the head-noun denotes the product.
  • The specifying genitive may be replaced by a prepositional phrase introduced by the preposition of:

my friend’s visit(=the visit of my friend)

prepositional phrases may express several more meanings
Prepositional phrases may express several more meanings:

a. appositive Genitive –the city of London

  • the important word isLondonand it iscitythat qualifies it

b. partitive Genitive –the leg of the chair

c. Genitive of measure –the length of the swimming pool

descriptive genitive
Descriptive Genitive
  • With this semantic type the noun in the genitive case is used with generic reference.
  • We can distinguish between two semantic varieties:
  • classifying Genitive
  • Genitive of measure
a classifying genitive
a. classifying Genitive
  • a sailor’s uniform(=uniform worn by sailors)
  • cow’s milk(=milk from cows)
  • a doctor’s degree(=a doctoral degree )
  • The boys’ own paper (=a British magazine for boys)
b genitive of measure
b. Genitive of measure
  • an hour’s break(=a break of one hour)
  • a mile’s walk(=walking a distance of one mile)
  • The descriptive genitive is not always possible to be replaced by an of-phrase.
  • Many descriptive genitive phrases have become set phrases:

a spider’s web, a bee’s sting

  • Some phrases have idiomatic meaning:

a giant’s task, a child’s play

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The uses of the ‘s (inflected) genitive and the of- (periphrastic) genitive overlap to a considerable degree.
  • But the two structures are not always interchangeable.
  • The inflected form is common in headlines, captions and titles. This is due to its brevity and the prominence it gives to the noun:

‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’, ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’